Blueberry Branch – Illustrator Project

Blueberry Branch in Illustrator | mamasbrush #practice #learning #sharing #artwork #graphicdesign #blueberries #branch #art

This is my first official completed project in Adobe Illustrator.

In my journey as a budding artist, one of the walls I keep running up against in sharing my work digitally is Adobe Illustrator. I learned how to use Photoshop years ago (though numerous new editions leave me still figuring things out), but I’ve never had any training in Illustrator. I just sort of fake it to do what I need. Watch a YouTube video for this or that and make it work well enough. But it is a frustration when I want to do something and don’t know how.

I’d like to be able to use it to further my artistic endeavors, not be hindered by it. So I’ve decided to learn. As there is nothing in the budget for this sort of thing, I’ve turned to the internet as my teacher. This is hit or miss as I’m sure you know, but I’ve already learned several things I didn’t know before and, therefore, can now do several things I could never have done before. I’ve been working through other peoples project tutorials, but I keep getting stuck before finishing anything all the way. So I took what I’ve learned so far and I made my own project.

I started with this quick sketch on regular paper. It isn’t perfect and I didn’t bother fixing the mistakes. I took a picture of it with my phone, uploaded it and brought it into Illustrator. The main skill I was trying to work on was using the pen tool, so I created a new layer over top the one with the photo and began using the pen tool to trace over my lines and leaves. It’s going to take some further practice, but already I can see a difference over the last couple days. Mostly it’s just fun to see something I created in Illustrator.

It’s not perfect, but the project served it’s purpose. I’ve gotten some practice and I’ve learned where I need some further instruction.

Gathering here.

Customize your Rae Dunn for Valentine’s Day

I got my very first piece of Rae Dunn pottery for Christmas this year. I’ve been looking at how to DIY Rae Dunn type things for a while and pinning everything Rae Dunn before that, but now I have one. Trouble is, what can I do with one piece?

I got the “faith” mug. Isn’t it cute??? But when I think Rae Dunn, I think of all the ways I can use it to decorate seasonally. And don’t you need a dozen or more pieces to be able to do that? Actually, no. You don’t!

Last month I shared with you how I used my one Rae Dunn mug in a winter vignette. When February was approaching, though, I took some pictures of the process for you. (Just meant to share them earlier in the month!)

In the pictures above, you see the word “Faith” on the right. It’s a great word, but I was looking for something else for Valentine’s decor. The left picture shows you something else… a blank canvas!

Customize your Rae Dunn | mamasbrush #RaeDunn #mug #diy #tutorial #decor #valentine'sday

So I grabbed some masking tape and my water based Sharpie paint pen and got to work. (***Note: water based will wash off, oil based may not. Make sure you have the water based paint pen!!!) You could measure, but I just eye-balled the taping to get mostly strait and just far enough apart.

Customize your Rae Dunn | mamasbrush #RaeDunn #mug #diy #tutorial #decor #valentine'sday

Then I used my most Rae Dunn like writing (notice it isn’t the exact same, but it’s good enough for me) and wrote “kiss me” on the cup. If you mess up, just get a paper towel damp and clean it off to start over.

I did notice that it bled when the paint pen touched the tape, so I tried to be careful not to get so close the second time. But even then, I just folded up a paper towel, dipped it in a bit of water and cleaned up the edges after pulling the tape off.

Customize your Rae Dunn | mamasbrush #RaeDunn #mug #diy #tutorial #decor #valentine'sday

And I was done (or should I say “Dunn”?) Not sure yet what it will say with spring around the corner, but you can be sure it will be something.

Okay, so I wasn’t completely done…

Customize your Rae Dunn | mamasbrush #RaeDunn #mug #diy #tutorial #decor #valentine'sday

While I still had my supplies out and was still itching to decorate (I don’t have much Valentine stuff) I pulled out a couple of my little white bowls. I stuck a piece of masking tape around the bottom to give me a straight line and I added words to them too.

Customize your Rae Dunn | mamasbrush #RaeDunn #mug #diy #tutorial #decor #valentine'sday

They make me smile! πŸ™‚

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Customize your Rae Dunn | mamasbrush #RaeDunn #mug #diy #tutorial #decor #valentine'sday

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Dressing Up Your Gifts with a Little Something Extra

Like last year, we gifted home infused olive oils to most of our friends and family for Christmas this year. Let me tell you, they were so popular and so fun to do the first time that our list is growing. I think we are already planning to gift them to a few more people next year.

While you can use his post to plan for Christmas next year, I hope it will also be an inspiration for mid-year gifting. The principles are the same whenever (and whatever) you are gifting.We decided to push ourselves to do new flavors this year and are growing in our comfort with the whole process, but, for us, it’s not enough to simply gift infused oils. We wanted them to look amazing and we really think they did!

Dressing Up Your Gifts with a Little Something Extra | mamasbrush  #oliveoil #gifts #homemade #diylabels #gifting #woozybottles #infusedoliveoil

The Gift

Our gift was infused oils. We ordered 5 ounce woozy bottles from a new place this year (not going to say as we weren’t as happy with them). We’ll probably go back to Amazon for that next year even though they were a little more. We also ordered the labels and the heat shrink tops (though these are the ones for wine in a larger size… oops. There is one for the 5 ounce bottle somewhere.) Since they were a little bigger than our bottles, we trimmed them down and they worked fine.

I did the illustrations and the hand lettering for the labels again too. Then I combined all that in Photoshop with another font there and we printed them out.

Your gift could be anything. Something hand crafted in the workshop or baked in your kitchen. Something purchased in a store or ordered online. It can be something you give in mass to everyone on your list or something personally selected for each friend and family member.

Dressing Up Your Gifts with a Little Something Extra | mamasbrush #giftwrapping #presentation #packaging #gifting #makeitspecial #tags #gifttags #diygifttags #watercolorpainting

The Packaging

Then came the hardest part… finding a box that would fit them all just right. Hopefully this next year we won’t procrastinate this again. But in the end, we found something at the Dollar Tree that worked well. We added some spacers between the bottles to make them fit better.

Our boxes weren’t expensive. That isn’t the point. And they don’t have to be fancy. They could be simple brown or white bags if that fits your style or the style of your gift. It could be brown kraft paper wrapping it all up. Or shimmery shiny wrapping paper. Or custom printed wrapping paper for that matter. It doesn’t matter what it is, but consider it. Consider your presentation.

Finishing touches

Dressing Up Your Gifts with a Little Something Extra | mamasbrush #giftwrapping #presentation #packaging #gifting #makeitspecial #tags #gifttags #diygifttags #watercolorpainting

That could have been the end of the packaging. It looked real pretty with all that curling ribbon, but the next part really set it apart. A couple different friends said it really took the whole thing over the top. The hand painted tags. The watercolor illustrations add a sense of whimsy to the whole thing.

If you don’t feel as though you could paint or draw something yourself, there are plenty of fun tags on Pinterest that you could print on nice paper to add whimsy to your gift.

Why the Packaging Matters

Again, you can apply these same principles to any hand made gift, or any gift for that matter. Taking an extra minute to personalize the packaging can make a huge impact. But why? Do we do it so that everyone sees how crafty and creative we are? Is it so that they will talk about our gift longer than everyone elses? If the answer to those questions is yes, then don’t do it. It’s not worth it.

So why do it? They are just going to rip it open and throw it all away anyway. Isn’t it just a waste of time? Honestly, sometimes. Again, this depends on your motives. It has only been in the last few years that I’ve even begun to think about caring what a gift looks like. I’m a throw-it-in-a-gift-bag-with-a-couple-pieces-of-tissue-paper kind of girl. Seriously. It’s how we wrap almost everything for kids etc. around here. It’s faster. I have 6 kids, and when I still had multiple babies and toddlers around, it was the best way. Sometimes it’s still the best way. Really!

But when I can, and when it’s right, spending extra time on the presentation of a gift is just one more way to show love to that friend, family member or {even} stranger you are gifting to. The gift is great. That thought is great. But the extra time to make it special passes that special-ness onto the one who gets the gift.

So what now?

Maybe you aren’t ready for this yet. Maybe you have as much crazy in your life as I do and it’s just not practical. Gifts? What gifts? There were years we didn’t do much in the way of gifts at all. That’s okay. Be where you are. Do what you can. But every once in a while, or when you are ready, step outside your comfort zone and make that one gift special. It’s worth the look on their face when they find out that it is for them!

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Dressing Up Your Gifts with a Little Something Extra | mamasbrush #giftwrapping #presentation #packaging #gifting #makeitspecial #tags #gifttags #diygifttags #watercolorpainting

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Winter Shelf Decor and More

Winter Shelf Decor | mamasbrush   #decor #winter #pinetrees #snowman #snow
#snowballs #shelves #chalkboard #art #drawing

Okay, so we are in the second half of January and I’ll be changing these {my favorite} shelves in the next week or so. But before I do, I wanted to share them with you all. I didn’t really do anything with them in January last year, so this was their first winter set up.

I just love the way it turned out, but my favorite part is that my daughter (11) was helping me. While I was working on taking everything out of the box, she grabbed up those plastic pine trees and set them up herself. I just loved the way they were set up, so I placed that tall wood snowman among them and called um good. I love that skinny little guy. He is one of the projects from our first year selling at the Christmas market. I believe my oldest made him. The jar of cotton balls is labeled “snowballs”. I put it together for my tiered tray last year.

Winter Shelf Decor | mamasbrush   #decor #winter #snowman #snow
#snowballs #shelves #chalkboard #art #drawing

Behind that is one of my favorite, inexpensive frames from Walmart. I keep various sizes on hand so I can frame a new piece for putting up or gifting. I put a piece of black paper in it and used my white, water-based paint pen to draw a little scene and write out James 1:17.

Winter Shelf Decor | mamasbrush   #decor #winter #pinetrees #snowman #snow
#snowballs #shelves #woodblocks #crafts #wintercrafts #wintercrafting #saltandpeppershakers

On the bottom shelf are several wooden trees I’ve gathered or made over the years. The “Snow” blocks were another from my son, but his time they were made just for me instead of left overs from market. He did them in all shades of green because he knew I would want to use them for a winter-scapey theme after Christmas. The adorable snowman salt and pepper shakers were made by my daughter for Christmas market and were among the left overs. I’m just “borrowing” them until next year when we’ll put them out to sell again. πŸ™‚

Rae Dunn Inspired Cocoa Station - Winter Shelf Decor | mamasbrush   #decor #marshmellows #cocoa #candycanes #mugs #RaeDunn

I love this little spot on the window sill above my stove. I usually put mugs all along it through Christmas and beyond, but we got a cat last year and I just can’t keep him off that sill. I am too afraid he’ll get up there and knock something down to it’s doom. And let’s be honest, he’s going to get up there. I find cat prints all. the. time.

So this year I made this a little cocoa themed space. I filled a mason jar with large marshmallow and set my cute hot chocolate mix with it. Then the cittle crocheted mug rug my daughter made for me for Christmas this year. Also for Christmas this year, my sister gave me my first official Rae Dunn piece. I’ve been pinning them for a year now. She picked out this cute mug that says “faith” on it. Problem was, as cute as it would be with all those candy canes in it, it just didn’t fit. So I grabbed my black water-based paint pen and wrote “cocoa” on it in my wobbly version of “Rae Dunn” like writing on the other side. Now I have options. I can use it as is, or I can turn it around and write something to fit my theme.

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Toilet Paper Snowman - Winter Shelf Decor on a Budget| mamasbrush   #decor #snowman #snow #crafty #winter #easycrafts #decor #decorations #toiletpaperrolls

This is my last favorite thing this year. It was also a gift, last year’s Christmas gift from my older boys (12 and 8 at the time). You see, last year was the year of the toilet paper pumpkins at our church. It seemed that every different group made them, but I had no idea. Not until after we made a bunch and took them to the Christmas market hoping to sell a few for Thanksgiving. We didn’t sell any! No worries, put the toilet paper back in the bathroom and fold up the fabric for a future project. But apparently it started the wheels turning for my boys. Before I knew it, and with no idea why, they were begging the next empty oatmeal container off me for a project. That, plus some help and supplies from my mom, became the cutest toilet paper snowman you’ve ever seen! One of my favorite Christmas gifts from 2018!

So there you have it, my favorite parts of this year’s winter decor. I hope you are inspired to make a special place in your home to make you smile!

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Gathering here.

Recommended Reading:

My Shelves Done Up for Valentine’s Day
Cozy Mountain Lodge Theme Wrap Up
Our Christmas Market Display – Where I sold my own artwork!

Panda Party on a Budget

When I found out that pandas were going to be my theme for this family party, I was super excited. There is so much cute stuff out there for pandas. This is my take on it.

Chalkboard - Panda Party on a Budget | mamasbrush #panda #party #birthday #bamboo # China #chalkboard #black #white

We had the pleasure to throw a family birthday party for a girl we consider part of our family. She’s one of ours and her mom’s okay with that. They always join us Sunday evenings for our family movie night, but tonight, we added in a surprise birthday party for this newly 13 year old.

Now, for those of you who have been around a while, or who have looked through some of my other parties, you know that we do parties a little differently. I have 6 kids, with my mom and sister joining us, already, we are 10 people! So we don’t do guest lists and I try to keep things pretty simple in the way of activities. We do food, decorations, presents and cake (or pie or whatever the birthday person requests). We also don’t do expensive. I do 6-8 parties a year. I can’t do that times $100+. I just can’t! All I bought for this party was some Pirouette Wafer cookies and paper plates and cups. Everything else was done with what I already had or free printables.

So… pandas. I found some really cute ideas on Pinterest (see my Panda party board here!)

Panda Party on a Budget | mamasbrush #panda #party #birthday #bamboo # China #decor #decorations #black #white

Crafty Pammy has this really great free printable panda craft that I cut out and did with my older boys. Mine is on the bottom. They came up with the idea of actually having the pandas eating bamboo. In another party setting, this would have been a fun craft to let your little guests do, but since my birthday girl was 13, I just used them for decorations.

My pinspiration for the bamboo came from Super Festa Infantil where they have all sorts of panda party ideas. It looks like theirs is pre-printed or something, but I just cut green construction paper into 3 inch strips and then trimmed them up to have the little details at the ends of the segments. Then I taped them to the wall (with special wall tape my father-in-law picked up for me) on top of each other and added stems and leaves. The stems are actually scraps from cutting those out. Then tuck in the pandas and we were all set.

Chalkboard - Panda Party on a Budget | mamasbrush #panda #party #birthday #bamboo # China #chalkboard #black #white

And of course my chalkboard made an appearance. I was just going to do the bamboo since I was running out of time, but at the last minute I fit in a little panda. I just love him!

Cupcakes - Panda Party on a Budget | mamasbrush #panda #party #birthday #bamboo # China #cupcakes #black #white

The cupcakes were inspired by this adorable cake.

Cups - Panda Party on a Budget | mamasbrush #panda #party #birthday #bamboo # China #cups #black #white

And I got the cup idea here. Those are for sale, but a sharpie and white party cups got the job done for me. πŸ™‚

Done miss the other ideas I didn’t use over at my Pinterest Board! And don’t forget to…

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Panda Party on a Budget | mamasbrush #panda #party #birthday #bamboo # China #chalkboard #black #white

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Our Christmas Market Display *where I sold my artwork*

Our Christmas Market Display where I sold my own artwork | mamasbrush #cards #watercolor #Christmas #market #vendor #artwork #penguin #snowman #Christian #church #mistletoe #manger #Jesus #handmade #Display #pallet wood #crafts #painting #Christmas trees

I’ve been away for a while. I know. When deadlines start to stack up, something’s got to give. I admitted up front that painting is what I do in my spare time… when I have some. And when I don’t, there certainly isn’t time to blog… not to mention nothing to blog about! πŸ™‚

One of the things keeping me busy is a quilt that I’m making for my 5 year old son’s 6th birthday (next week). It’s still not done, but it’s closer. πŸ™‚ On top of that, Christmas market was inching nearer. All my *extra* energy was going to those projects during the day and late into the night. No painting… no blogging. No problem!

Our Christmas Market Display where I sold my own artwork | mamasbrush #cards #watercolor #Christmas #market #vendor #artwork #penguin #snowman #Christian #church #mistletoe #manger #Jesus #handmade #Display

But this past weekend was Christmas Market at our church. We took a lot of time the last few weeks working on the children’s projects. They turned out really well.

The small trees on the table were made from lath that came out of our walls during renovation. The blocks are cut from scrap 2x4s my husband used when re-building the walls.

Our Christmas Market Display where I sold my own artwork | mamasbrush #cards #watercolor #Christmas #market #vendor #artwork #Christian #church #manger #Jesus #handmade #2x4 #crafts #painting #Christmas trees #joy

You may notice in the first pictures, that the “J” is missing. Those first couple pictures were taken the night we set up (since the window makes day pictures near impossible) and we had already gathered up all the “J”s to take back home and fix. This is a new project we did this year and I’m especially attached to it because I drew out the letters and the manger shape myself (instead of using the Cricut). When I showed the J-O-Y to my husband, he said we should add “bundle of” to it. After some brainstorming, I thought that little star would be cute! Sadly, they didn’t sell this year, but they could next year, so I tucked them away.

Our Christmas Market Display where I sold my own artwork | mamasbrush #Christmas #market #vendor #artwork #Christian #church #handmade #Display #pallet wood #crafts #painting #Christmas trees

My boys made these cute trees from the old living room floor my husband pulled up in September.

Our Christmas Market Display where I sold my own artwork | mamasbrush #cards #watercolor #Christmas #market #vendor #artwork #penguin #snowman #Christian #church #mistletoe #manger #Jesus #handmade

I’ve sold a few things here and there in past years, but this year I prepared a bunch. These are some of the cards I made. They are original paintings done in watercolor. The plastic bags I have them in made them hard to photograph. πŸ™‚

Our Christmas Market Display where I sold my own artwork | mamasbrush #cards #watercolor #Christmas #market #vendor #artwork #penguin #snowman #Christian #church #mistletoe #manger #Jesus #handmade #tree #display

I also turned some of my past art into notepads. They were a labor of love using this tutorial to bind them.

And those little framed guys in the tiered tray were mine as well. I promised myself I’d have better pictures than I have… but alas. I’ll have to pull the ones I have left out to photograph them for you before putting them in the attic.

Attendance was up this year and we did pretty good. All the money the kids make goes toward summer camp and any that I make goes into the “braces fund.” Any little bit helps! πŸ™‚ The Christmas Market takes a lot of work to prepare for, but it’s something I really enjoy doing. πŸ™‚ And it’s really encouraging to me to find that, not only do people like the art I’ve created, but, they are willing to spend money on it too. πŸ™‚

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Our Christmas Market Display where I sold my own artwork | mamasbrush #cards #watercolor #Christmas #market #vendor #artwork #penguin #snowman #Christian #church #mistletoe #manger #Jesus #handmade #Display #pallet wood #crafts #painting #Christmas trees

Gathering here.

Fall Harvest Birthday Party My {Young} Children Gave Me

For months my children (ages 4-12) have been dreaming up their birthday plans for me. I always make a big deal of their birthdays (in inexpensive and homemade ways) and they are getting old enough to want to do what I do… for me. It’s pretty cool.

They have help. My mom helps with brainstorming and shopping and any crafting. The day of, they kick me out of the house (I go down to my mom’s house [converted from a detached garage] and take a shower… ahhhh… happy birthday to me!) so they can decorate.

Pumpkin Cake - Fall Harvest Birthday Party My Children Gave Me | mamasbrush | #birthday #party #harvest #fall #cake #sweets #pumpkins

This year they baked a cake. Due to a flop the previous day, I helped the little kids make the cake that morning and the big kids decorated it with my mom in the afternoon when she was home from work. It turned out really cute!

Fall Harvest Birthday Party My Children Gave Me | mamasbrush | #birthday #party #harvest #fall #centerpiece #scarecrow #pumpkins #gourds #floralarrangement #decorations #decor

They colored pictures for the walls and put together a centerpiece according to the theme.

Fall Harvest Birthday Party My Children Gave Me | mamasbrush | #birthday #party #harvest #fall #chalkboard #kidart #pumpkins #handlettering

This year they even put my chalkboard to use! Isn’t it adorable! They all helped in some way. Keep in mind that the oldest is 12 and the youngest had just turned 4.

Thank you babies for a wonderful birthday!

[Most of this post was finished back at the end of September, but life got busy and the blog (as necessity demands) is the first thing to go. (I haven’t been painting either!) I just popped in to work on some new posts when I discovered that this one had never been finished. So here it is. Hopefully there will be another this week, and they we’ll see how life settles in. I miss sharing… and having things to share!]

Blessings,
Babychaser