Lions rock!

Here’s my latest rock painting of one of my favourite majestic creatures.

Painted in different shades of brown and cream acrylic — it’s the same process as my ladybugs… rough pencil sketch of the lion’s face on the rock, then paint in the colours.

Speaking of ladybugs… I painted a few big ones for my mother’s garden. You can see them below with their tinier friends.

Ladybugs rock!

I’ve noticed a lot of ladybug painted rocks online, so I thought I’d try my hand at making some of my own.
I started by painting a few small, smooth stones with black acrylic paint.Once dry, I used a pencil to outline where I’d be painting their red wings.
Then, I painted the areas with a couple of coats of red acrylic paint.
Next, I added the black polka dots by dipping the eraser at the end of my pencil into the black paint and dabbing the polka dots onto the red areas. What an easy way to paint small, perfectly round circles!

Then I used white paint and a bit more black to paint on the eyes.

Once dry, I sprayed them with a clear matte protective finish.
Definitely one of the easiest painting projects I’ve ever done—with fantastic results.

I plan to paint a bunch of them to place around my garden.

Here they are social distancing. 🙂

Whooo Loves You? A whimsical owl on canvas

This was definitely an art in progress—shaped from ideas that popped into my mind each step of the way.

I had a large canvas with an old painting on it that I had decided to scrap, so I spray painted over it in blue to make it look like the sky.

So, what to do with a canvas that looks like the sky? Why not mount a real tree branch on it.

I did just that by finding a loose branch that was the right size for the canvas, set it down into place, and used a pencil to draw a light outline of it on the canvas. Next, I used my smallest drill bit to drill tiny holes in a few strategic places on either side of the outline, where I would be using fine wire to secure the branch to the canvas. I found that the wire worked well enough to skip the need to use glue.

So, what to do with a canvas that looks like the sky and has a tree branch in the middle of it? Why not put a bird of some sort on it.

So I decided to make a great big bird out of clay. I sketched a rough picture of an owl in the approximate size that I wanted to make it. Then I mixed up some homemade flour/salt/water modelling dough that my daughter and I used to play with together when she was little (so easy… 2 cups flour, 1 cup salt, 1 cup warm water—stir together, knead, then start making stuff!). I rolled out the dough, and following my sketch, used a small knife to cut out all the shapes I needed to make my owl.
As I cut the pieces, I set them on a baking sheet, then baked everything at 200 degrees for about three hours, until all the pieces were dry and hard. (The larger pieces baked longer than the small pieces.)

I took a break from this project for a few weeks because I had a couple of other projects I wanted to work on first. When I went back to it, it was time to paint all the owl pieces. I decided that I wanted to make it colourful and whimsical instead of realistic, so I picked out my acrylic paint colours and just jumped in with both feet, making up the colour combinations and design patterns as I went along. (Most of what I do isn’t very pre-planned—that’s what makes it fun to me. Some people wouldn’t want to work that way. Different strokes for different folks.)

Once all the pieces were painted, I used heavy-duty carpenter’s wood glue to affix them to each other. So far, so good.

So, what to do with a canvas that looks like the sky and has a tree branch and an owl on it? Why not incorporate the dried leaves I had tucked away in my craft cupboard. I laid them out on the canvas and got the idea to write positive words on them, as if spoken by the owl. I pictured this mixed media project as something a young child would enjoy—as a piece of art to hang in their room or even for display in a kindergarten classroom, and using words that are easy to read made sense.
So, what would this colourful owl say to a young child?
How about, “Whooo loves you? I do! I do!”
And that’s exactly what I painted in white and gold acrylic on each leaf after spraying them with a clear gloss preservative.

I wanted to make some kind of way to hang it on a wall, so I found a perfectly shaped tree branch (it’s funny how the nature supplies that I need always seem to be sitting right there on the ground in front of me, just when I need them!) that was just the right length. I stripped the old bark from it with a small knife.
Then I laid it against the top of the canvas, in the spot where I wanted to place it. I marked four dots on either side of the branch where I wanted to secure it to the canvas, then I used my small drill bit to drill holes on the marked spots where I planned to run wire.
Next, I ran thin but sturdy wire through the holes, wrapping it around the branch (as shown in photo) to secure it. The curved shape of the branch makes it perfect for hanging!

And that’s the story behind my latest project.

Butterfly in alcohol ink and acrylic paint

I loved this saying when I saw it online: “Don’t be afraid. Change can be beautiful,” said the butterfly. That was my prompt to paint something that would complement it.

First, I outlined a butterfly in pencil on a plain ceramic tile.

I wanted to do some experimenting with alcohol ink, so I used black acrylic paint to outline the butterfly, creating a “border” that would contain the drips of alcohol ink in each section.

Once the acrylic was dry, I dripped different colours of ink into each white space on the wings. It took me several hours, on and off, to arrive at the colour mix that I wanted, but it was worth it. It kind of looks like stained glass up close. The acrylic paint did a very good job of containing the alcohol ink within each section.

To add the saying, I just did hand lettering with a super-fine marker.

Last step — I sprayed it with a clear sealant.

Make your own rustic mini easel from tree branches

I was running out of mini easels for displaying my ceramic tile paintings, so I decided to try making my own. There were some broken-off branches lying around on the ground in my yard, so I collected a couple of the straightest ones I could find. I used a small garden clipper to clip three 7.5” long pieces, and one 5” piece to act as the display ledge.
Choosing the three longest sticks, I used a drill with a super-fine bit to drill holes about ½” down from one end of each stick, where I would be binding the three together. Then I drilled holes about an inch from the bottom of the two front sticks, where I planned to attach the 5” display ledge stick. I also drilled holes at either end of the ledge stick.
Next, I held the three large sticks together in the tripod-style position I wanted them to be in, and I ran thin wire through the holes, winding it around to bind them together. It was very fiddly and I had to redo it a couple of times to get it right. Once I was finished, I squeezed carpenter’s glue in between them to secure a better bind.

I placed the ledge stick against the bottom holes and slid toothpicks covered in carpenter’s glue through the holes to bind them together. Once the glue was dry, I clipped off the toothpick parts that were sticking out. I discovered that using toothpicks to secure the pieces together is a lot easier than using wire, so I plan to change the way I secure the top part of my next easel.

To cover up the wire at the top, I wound a raffia ribbon around and tied a bow.

Voila! A rustic mini easel for displaying mini artwork.

Below, I’ve included a couple more acrylic on ceramic tile paintings I finished recently. One is of a mischievous fairy who has fallen partially into the cookie jar. And the other is of one of my favourite birds—the beautiful Cardinal.


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