My first book!

An empty nester finds comfort in her new Granddaughter

I finally published my first book!   I was inspired to write my book when my new Granddaughter walked into my garage and picked up my Daughter’s small watering can.  Which reminded me of when my own little girl helped me water my flowers… and got me thinking…..

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My Daughter is a senior in high school, and I am on the verge of empty nest syndrome.  Something I never even gave a thought about.  When your kids are little, you are so busy that you never give a second thought that someday they will leave and be on their own.  I took each day for granted, never thinking that one day it would end.  So here I am, helping my Daughter pick a college and feeling bad for myself.  One day my new Granddaughter visits and while we are enjoying a warm day, she goes into my garage and grabs my Daughter’s abandoned watering can.  At that moment I realized that my life had just circled around. Although my kids were grown, I still had a new little one to love and be there for.  So I started working on a book.  Thinking about the flowers we would water, and looking at pics to inspire me.

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It is my hope that my book helps other older Mom’s to realize that life goes on.  And I also hope it inspires the younger generation to enjoy flowers.  As an added bonus, maybe it will remind the younger Mother that the busy, hectic days are temporary.  And to savor them.  I wish I had such a reminder back then.  But I have learned not to be sad at my mistakes, but to learn from them.  So I hope that my book is enjoyed by many generations!  If you purchase one, please let me know what you think… I would love to hear from you!

If you are interested in purchasing my book, you can purchase it on my website.

Please click here to purchase.

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Sunflower fields and Plein Air Painting

creating beautiful, personalized centerpieces for any celebration.

I am not a fan of plein air painting…. there I said it.  It is very hard to do for me.  I typically get a rough painting on the canvas, let it dry overnight, then work on the painting till its done.  Unfortunately if you keep mixing paint, you end up with what artists refer to as “mud”.  So moving wet paint around a canvas can be pretty difficult for me.  So Plein air has always been daunting.  Nevermind lugging all your equipment, dealing with the elements, and being on display while you paint.  All tough for me!

But it looks like the universe was giving me a push this year! My daughter is starting an AP art class for her senior year, and on her list of things to do this summer is paint plein air. Plein Air painting would be a much different experience with my daughter. So we packed up our art supplies and headed to a local farm that has stunning sunflower fields.

If you have not painted plein air, one tip I have always found helpful was to cut the canvas shape out on a piece of paper, and use it to frame your painting.  So helpful!

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After picking her view, my daughter sat down at her easel to paint, and I immediately was inspired.  Why not paint my daughter?

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I did what I could at the site, and will add a few more details once it dries.  Overall it was a great painting day, with only a few casualties of bugs flying into my painting.  So if you are an artist, and thinking about painting Plein Air, I encourage you to try!  It is always great to step out of your comfort zone, and I certainly did today!

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If you would like to see these sunflower fields, there is a festival this weekend, July 20-21st.  It is located at Buttonwoods Farm, off of Rte 165 in Griswold.  They sell bouquets of sunflowers, and the proceeds go to the Make a wish foundation.  As an added bonus they also sell delicious ice cream!  So if you are local to Griswold, Ct, you should make the trip!

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Easy Peasy Photo Centerpieces

creating beautiful, personalized centerpieces for any celebration.

I am at the age where aldone-5ot of my family and dearest friends are celebrating their 25th wedding anniversaries.  I am one that has celebrated this milestone too!  My cousin and her hubby are the latest lovebirds celebrating, and a surprise 25th was planned for them, and I volunteered to create the centerpieces.  Shortly after I volunteered this, I got nervous, wondering what the heck was I thinking?  I always do this to myself, volunteer, then worry about if I can do it…. well I am happy to report I did it, and I am very happy with the result!

I wanted something with their photo, to make it more personalized.  Plus some of the guests had not been at original wedding, and I thought it would be cool to see photos from actual wedding.  So I contacted the Moms of the lovebirds, and got lots of wedding photos.  I scanned these wedding photos in, and then looked for something to put them on.

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I luckily found some lovely glass jars at Christmas Tree shops.  They were perfect!  They had that country look, but also had a large flat side which would be perfect for a photo!

I then asked on a wonderful face book group called Image Transfer Artists, for some advice on how to get a photo on these jars.  They had lots of suggestions, but I went with the one that was to use transparent stickers then apply them to the jars.  I ordered them from Amazon, and then used Photoshop to make them to the size of the squares on the jars. I put one on a jar to try it, and it was very transparent.  Like stained glass.  So I decided to paint the rectangle white, so it had a background.  This worked perfectly!  I also recommend printing them out and letting them sit to dry overnight. Or more.  They take a while to dry.  And some still seemed tacky to the touch.  I have to add you have to be very careful, as they do also scratch easily.

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Once applied I decided they needed a spray of sealer. So I took a piece of thick clear plastic, cut out a rectangle the same size as photo,  and taped it to side of jar, and sprayed.

Now came the hardest part!  What to put in them……  I wanted to do fresh flowers, but did not realize you had to order them pretty early. So I had missed the boat on that sadly.  I visited a local grocery store, who told me to come back on Thursday as that’s when they would have a fresh delivery.  In the meantime, I needed some painting supplies at Michaels, so my daughter and I stopped in at our local store.  And there were some pretty bouquets, artificial on sale for 60% off.  Jackpot!!flowers2

My daughter and I picked through and got the exact number of bouquets we would need, with a few extra.  What a deal…. now I would not have to worry about what variety of fresh flowers were at store, or if they would bloom in time, or how they would look.  Instead, I would have a pretty centerpiece that would last forever, not need water and not wilt.  Thank you Michaels.  My daughter and I took each bouquet apart, removed tags and placed them in each jar.  Then we positioned them, cut ends so they fit jar nicely, added an extra flower if needed, then wrapped them with some twine or a ribbon.  Once they were done, we dropped them into jar.  So now no one had to worry about rearranging them.

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Below is the finished product! I am happy to report they weree a big hit with everyone.  On our way home, I told my hubby how I was happy everyone liked them.  And he replied that he was not surprised as everything I create always comes out well.

Isn’t he a keeper?

 

 

Hope this inspires you to create something as well!

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What the interior designers don’t tell you….

reality in decorating your home

We all do it… we watch the beautiful decorating shows on tv, look at the stunning magazines, and walk into furniture stores and see the beautiful way the designers have decorated.  Everything looks so perfect, gorgeous and not realistic at all.  Why do you say that, you ask?  Because the items they decorate with are all generic, and similar.  They don’t take into account that you have lots of items that are sentimental, lovely and not at all stylish.  So how do you incorporate these wonderful items with today’s decorating styles?  I do it as much as I can in my home, and wanted to share my own hutch.

We purchased a lovely hutch a few years ago from Jordan’s furniture.  Oh how lovely it looked in the showroom.  All white dishes, with a few similar items, tied in with yellow flowers throughout.  Just lovely.  And unrealistic!  It sold me anyways, and we purchased the new hutch.  Then I got it home and struggled to make it work.  And struggled.  I finally think I got it, and wanted to share with you.  Instead of getting rid of all my lovely sentimental items, I grouped them together.

Yes I realize it looks a bit cluttered.  And it proved my point how their styling is unrealistic.  How many of us live with items from stores perfectly styled?  Most of us have knick knacs, inherited items, gifts and most importantly, items from our family that we cannot just hide away.  So I kept them arranged this way, but put them on the ends of my hutch, so they are not center stage.  I put a bunch of farmhouse styled items in the middle, to take center stage.  As shown below.

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And I think this worked in my new hutch.  But honestly, even if it does not work, I am fine with that.  Because they are all beloved items, which make me happy to see, rather than generic ones to make my hutch look stylish.  This means much more to me.

So below is my personally styled hutch.  With items from my parents, grandmothers, children, hubby, sister, and friends.  And that means so much more to me.  It may not be featured on a decorating show, but it takes first place in my home.  I hope this gave you some ideas as well!

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The art of embracing Failure

Who determines what failure is? How is it determined? When it is determined? I recently had a conversation with a family member who had packed their family up, moved across the country, following a dream. We were, and are so proud of them for chasing a dream. Even if it seems to have stalled at the moment. Speaking with them, reminded me of my own dream. And how difficult it can be. For every success, there is doubt and frustration that follows. Through these struggles, I find quotes very comforting. After my talk with my cousins, I came across a quote I had saved from an artist that I follow online. She is a southern artist, named Mary Gilkerson. Mary has a wonderful, bold brushstroke style, with tons of color. She makes videos with tips, and has a lovely southern drawl while speaking. I am telling you all about her because she said something that has stuck with me. What she said is “Failure is your First attempt”

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Almost every new discovery, new record holder or great work of art started with failure. And if they gave up, we would not have the medicines we have, cars, phones, art, I could go on, but I think you get the picture. Artists, business owners, musicians, and anyone else that take chances, improve our world. So its not a bad thing to put yourself out there and take a chance. And if you do fail, remember Mary’s words…. It is your first attempt.

To see Mary’s work please click here

 

 

 

 

 

The art of creating a digital image

Being an artist in today’s world, means that most of us need digital images for submissions, or what have you, online.  I recently came across another artist struggling to create  digital images, and I remembered how I struggled as well.

A lot of artists use a camera, and that is fine too, but I favor a scanner.  It really creates a nice image, so nice that I am able to submit my art to a licensing company and have it published.  So you can be reassured that I have experience with digital images.

First off, I scan all my images on a Canon Scanner Mark 3000.  I shopped around to try to get a scanner with the largest screen, knowing my paintings are not document size.  That is not an easy thing to find, especially within a budget.  I settled on the Canon scanner, and have honestly been thrilled with it.  It works great!!! (I do not have the large screen, so that is why I learned to “stitch” them together)

First you need to scan your painting.  I have seen artists take the top of the scanner, build a light box, and scan their art.  Genius!  But you need the room to do this, and also the correct scanner.  My scanner does not work without the top, so this was not an option for me.

  1.  Hook scanner up and place dried painting face down on the scanner. Wet paintings give a glare from the shine of being wet, and do not scan well.  How do I know?  Lots of experience……  If your scanner has a cover, its not going to close all the way because of the painting.  So you will need to get something to cover the whole setup.  Otherwise you end up with scans that have different lighting.  Please see pic of my scanning setup.

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The above pic shows painting face down on scanner.  Lid will not close, so you need to put something over scanner and painting.

 

Photo Mar 30, 8 48 37 AMI use an old, dark tablecloth to cover mine.  I had to put something heavy on painting to hold it in place, so I grabbed what was handy, which was the vase you see in photo.

2.  When scanning painting, you have to do sections at a time, so try to notice what area you have done. Overlapping is a good thing.  And make sure the painting is lined up nicely to edges of scanner.  If it is crooked, it will be a nightmare later stitching them together.  I use the software that came with my scanner.  There are usually a few settings, so you may have to play with them a bit, to get an image that looks like your art.  Sometimes the colors can be off, so please get these settings correct before scanning, it will save you a lot of heartbreak.

3.  Once they are all scanned, open Adobe Photoshop.  I use Elements, as this software can get a bit pricey, and elements has all of what I need. Once photoshop is open, please go to File—–New—-Blank File.  This is what I put in:

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I make a large file, so it all fits.  I later crop it to a smaller size.  This may not work for everyone, I am not a teacher, just an artist sharing my knowledge.

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So, as you see from image above, I have my two scanned images open, as well as the file I am going to paste them into.  Here is where you would rotate the file if needed, so it comes in correctly when pasted into new document.  If you notice, at the top of my image there is a white area with paint spots.  All the times I was not patient, and painting was wet, left paint on scanner.  Don’t worry about the edges being off at this point, we will crop image later.

4.  Now that files are open, go into one of the image files and hit Select—–All.  You should see the image border get highlighted with a dashed line.  Then go to Edit——Copy.  What you have done is copied image to be inserted.

5. Now toggle over to Untitled, or the document that you created in the first steps. Hit Edit—–Paste.  The image will be in your document.  Do the same for all the images that you have scanned.  Copy and paste them into your document. When you are done, it will look like you have only one image, as they usually insert into the same spot as the first.

inserted.jpg6.  Above is what your screen should look like.  This is where I now crop a bit so I do not have such a large image to work with.  Go to the crop tool, and click on it, then go around the images.

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crop2.jpgOnce the file is cropped, and smaller, now is a good time to save the file.  Go to File—–save as—- and save it.

7.  Next I use the “move” tool to move the images off one another.

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8.  Once you can see them both, I then click on one of them in the layer section, and make it transparent. 60 -70% is usually a good percentage.

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9.  The next part is to zoom in, so you can see the brush strokes.  Once they are close sometimes Adobe will do it for you.  I like to make sure, and zoom in very tight, and do it myself.  See how well they are fitting?

move2.jpg10.   Next thing is to go back to layer, and put transparency back to 100.  Once that is done, you will see there is a definitive line.  See it circled? overlap2.jpg11.  To get rid of that line we are going to use the select command. On the bottom of the screen you will see there is a feather option.  You MUST change this to 23 or so.  This softens the edges, and will make that edge go away.

12.  Once you put 23 in, go to the image and select along that line as shown.select3.jpg

13.  Right click with your mouse after creating selection, to get the pop up menu.  Hit Layer Via cut.  Go the layer you made, and right click.  Delete it.  The line will disappear.

14.  Merge your layers so you have one layer. (Right click on layer)

15.  Save image as jpeg.  Next you should edit the image for brightness, color, and fix any other imperfections.  Then save again.  Voila! You have created a stitched together image!

 

Good luck!

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The art of heirlooms

In the midst of cleaning my cellar, I found another project to do….. I came across a bag of handkerchiefs crocheted by my Great Grandmother Antonia. This would be the same Grandma you hear me refer to when I mention the silver I use at all family gatherings. She loved to crochet, and crocheted many, many handkerchiefs that she gave to family, or sold for a small fee. She even sent one to the White House!!! Yes, you read that correctly. She thought Mamie Eisenhower would enjoy one for her inaugural ball, so she sent her one, with a note. Mamie sent a nice note back, and it actually has her signature. Being pack rats, we actually have the original letter, and an article written in the paper about the handkerchiefs going to the White House.

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But back to my project….. the handkerchiefs were always bright colors, and very dainty. Seeing them today made me think of her, and also to think of what to do with them. Carrying handkerchiefs is not as popular as it was in the past, and even so, I have so many! So I visited Pinterest for inspiration, and decided I will make them into a table runner.  I took the handkerchiefs and arranged them various ways till I was happy with a layout.  Then I measured how long the design was, and cut a fabric I had gotten at a local store to the length needed.  I ironed the edges to make a nice straight line for easier sewing.

Once the background runner was done, I pinned the handkerchiefs the way I wanted them sewed.  I carefully stitched them along the lace, but not through it.  This way if someone decides to take it apart in the future, it will be easier to keep them intact.

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The final runner is a mixture of the handkerchiefs my Grandma made, on a pretty fabric background.  I also saved a few handkerchiefs for future generations to use at weddings.  I think my Grandmother would be pleased with the final product and happy that I am using them.  And remembering her.  Thanks Grandma!

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Below is Great Grandma and her husband Charles, at their 50th Wedding Anniversary.

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