Don’t throw out your old CDs…

Repurpose them by painting colourful mandala designs on them!

I used acrylic paint and dotting tools and painted one per afternoon. Talk about a relaxing way to spend a couple of hours!

There are tons of pattern ideas on the Web for inspiration, or just use your imagination.

I mounted them on a fabric background, but it was a bit of a pain,
so I think I’ll try just painting the background next time.

I placed a clear, crystal stone in the center of each CD, but I’ll definitely be experimenting
with other ideas in the future.


Painting on Rocks: Whimsical Owls

Painting on rocks has become one of my favourite crafty pursuits. It’s challenging (and fun!) to transform a plain stone into a decorative keepsake. It’s also one of the most relaxing ways to spend an afternoon.

I went for a walk along Oakville’s Lake Ontario shoreline, where I gathered a treasure trove of smooth rocks in a variety of shapes and sizes. Once back home, I just used soap and water to wash all of the rocks.

After choosing four shapes that suited my project, I roughly penciled a different owl design on each one.

Next, I chose a different colour combination of acrylic paints for each owl. Working on only one owl per day, I painted a couple of coats of the base colours and allowed them to dry overnight. 

Once the base painting was complete, I used a black ultra fineline marker to carefully outline each of the painted areas. After allowing the marker lines to dry, I used a combination of both fineline marker and acrylic paint (with the finest size of paintbrush) to add intricate designs in each section. You need an extremely steady hand and a ton of patience to get it right!

Once I was satisfied with my finished owls, I sprayed them with Krylon Kamar Varnish, a clear, protective sealant. Next, I used black acrylic to paint a plain, leafless tree on an 8.5” x 11” white canvas board. Once that was dry, I used a heavy-duty glue (LePage Carpenter’s Glue) to affix each rock to a branch on the board.

Then, I sanded a light-coloured wood frame that I had in my stash, painted it black, and sprayed it with a protective sealant (Armor Coat Clear Finish Acrylic Spray Paint).

All done!

Here are both of my completed sets. Stay tuned for my next rock project.

Finishing a creative project feels SO gratifying

In these trying times, there’s absolutely nothing better for the soul than having one or more beloved hobbies to lean on. When you have a creative passion to turn to, you reap a wealth of healthy benefits:

  • Working toward a goal that you’re passionate about gives you a sense of purpose, which makes you feel happy and content.
  • Working with your hands as you immerse yourself in a project of your choosing is beyond relaxing. It’s the next best thing to meditation!
  • When you complete a project, you feel new stirrings of excitement as you think about the next.
  • Seeking out and experimenting with fresh ideas and new challenges takes you on a learning journey that never ends—your mind is ever expanding onto new pathways to discovery.
  • Finishing a project gives you a deep feeling of accomplishment. It’s a confidence-builder.
  • You are never bored. Your hobby is always there, waiting for you to dive in.
  • You learn more about yourself. Hobbies help you to explore and discover new skills, as well as unearth hidden talents that you may never have realized you had. 
  • It’s this simple: not only is it FUN to create new things, the act of doing so fills you with pure JOY!

With that said, here are some projects I’ve finished over the past few months. I still have to write out the patterns for some of them, which I’ll post for you at a later date.

Happy hobbying to you!

Toronto Blue Jays baseball cap and booties for a special new baby
Little drawstring bag
Easter bunny headband
Lemon meringue slouchy hat
Grey & cream pocket scarf
Blue jeans blue crocheted hippie skirt
Teal tie top
Rose lace top
Pen & ink doodle drawing: The most priceless things are wild and free
Pen & ink doodle drawing: You already have what you’re looking for

A fall colour celebration

I wanted to capture Mother Nature’s glorious fall colours in a simple acrylic painting. To add some extra texture, I incorporated a side border of real dried leaves, then sprayed them with a gloss acrylic sealant.

“October gave a party … and the leaves came by the hundreds.”

Bumble Bees Rock!

This was another easy painting-on-rocks project.

Materials: Black, gold and white acrylic paint and paint brushes; a bit of aluminum screening; a bit of thin wire for attaching the wings.

It was a simple task of painting each rock black with gold stripes, then painting on the little eyes and antennae. I also used an acrylic spray sealant in case I want to put them outside in the garden.

For each set of wings, I cut a rounded, oblong shape from the mesh screening, pinched it together in the middle, then wound a piece of wire through it and wound the wire around the centre of each rock to hold the wings securely in place. You could also use a glue gun, but I wanted to try the wire, and it worked just fine.

Voila! Little bumble bees for the garden.

Wait! Don’t throw out that tin can…

Turn it into something useful with a bit of paint and your imagination.
What was once an empty soup can on its way to the recycling bin is now a cute vase for my outdoor patio table.

Here’s what I did.

After washing out the can and soaking off the label, I spray painted it with a mint green acrylic, and allowed it to dry overnight. Then I used a pencil to roughly transfer the sketch below onto it.
Next, I selected the different colours of acrylic paint that I wanted to use—olive green and tan brown for the branches, yellow for the tiny leaves (I had forsythia in mind), two shades of purple for the flowers and a mustard gold for the flower center—then I got to work.

Once the paint dried, I sprayed it with a clear acrylic finish.

Voila! From tin can to simple transformation.


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.

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