A Visit From Maddie

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Sometimes I still can't believe that two of my children have grown up and flown out of our little nest. It's super crazy-I'm so proud of the grown up stuff they are doing; but in my heart I think they are just my little Maddie and Katie baby girls. Maddie and her husband Kenny came for a visit last month and since my blog wears many hats, including our family journal, I wanted to post some pics of the fun we had while she was here.

We went to our favorite ice cream shop, Lottie's. Marc was at work and Ellie was at school so it was just Jonathan, Maddie, Kenny and I. Sometimes they make fun of my obsessive photo documentation of their lives.

Later that night we met Grammy and Papa for dinner at a great Korean bbq restaurant.  For some reason the only photo I have is a plate of raw meat. You don't have to pin it if you don't want to.
But really, that is fun family dining right there! Live fire at your table; what could be better?

The next day was so special. Katie and my mom were able to spend the day with us and it was just about as perfect as a girls' day can get. We started out downtown at a cool little store where you can custom mix your own perfume. We each sniffed about a million different scented oils until we came up with concoctions that we liked, then the barista mixed our personal perfumes into little roller ball dispensers for us. We got to give them our own names too. My mom named hers "Lani Love," and I named mine "Mermaid."
I made all three of those cute girls! I am amazing.

Then we wandered downtown a bit and visited the candy shop. Because, candy.
After that we wanted to go to Danville where they have some of the cutest little boutiques, and Ellie asked us to drop her off at home first. Her twelve year old sensibilities do not yet include spending the afternoon oohing and aahing over overpriced home goods. It will come.

For Maddie, a critical part of any visit to California is feasting on fresh sushi, but Kenny doesn't like it so we decided to get our raw fish quota in while we were out for lunch. The place we were at had some of the prettiest plates I've ever seen.
The weather was as perfect as we could ask for and we ate outside on the lovely patio.
 My mom doesn't actually like sushi either but she is a good sport and eats a bento box with teriyaki chicken when we make her go. She is too nice to tell us if she doesn't like it so we just assume she does.

After lunch we went shopping. I am one hundred percent sure my mom likes shopping. We purchased only the essentials, including shoes, handbags, earrings, and a hat for Katie. It was such a good day!

Later in the week we had family bowling night. None of us are that good. Some of us like to talk like we are good (not me, I stand at the line, roll the ball and hope), but none of us are that great. What we are is loud and competitive (...again, not me).
 We ran into some of our friends there that night too, it was fun playing with their kids.

I tried to get the requisite bowling shoe photo but some people could not be made to understand what I was artistically trying to accomplish. A star! It shouldn't be that hard. But, whatever. This is what I got. Then my peeps didn't want to stand in a tight little circle in the middle of the bowling ally while I took pictures of our feet anymore so I had to give up.
They sort of tolerated the group shot.

I love those guys.

And that about covers it. Oh! Marc and I took Maddie and Kenny to a Giants' game too. I love Giants' stadium; the view of the Pacific is fantastic.
I can't wait to see those kids again!

DIY Lulie Wallace Flower Paintings

Monday, May 4, 2015

how to DIY a Lulie Wallace abstract flower painting
Yes, even though I have literally not painted anything besides walls and furniture ever, I painted those. Yes, I'm going to show you how to also. It doesn't matter that you "can't paint" or "aren't artistic." If you have been obsessing over Lulie Wallace but don't have a budget for original artwork (although some of her pieces are within reach at under $500) then just believe me, you've got this! Imagine I'm holding your hand and cheerleading you through the whole thing, email me if you need to, come over if you're local. This was so fun I really want to share it with you.

Don't you just love her paintings? And her designs for Anthropology? They may make me feel a little obsessive. Like, must. have. ALLOFTHEM. Let's look at some of my favorite Lulie originals just to get excited about our project.

There is just happiness coming off these paintings in waves. I can't get enough of them! And here are the two paintings I tried to recreate for myself.

In case you were wondering, my thoughts on copying are really well expressed in this article. Basically, it's fine to copy other artists for your own learning and enjoyment, people have been doing it forever. Think of the art students you see with their sketchbooks at any museum you visit. Just don't, you know, sign Lulie Wallace to your painting and try to sell it. Hang on your wall, yes; list on Etsy, no.

So okay, let's get started! Gah,I'm so excited for you! This is going to be so much fun! And I don't want to hear any more blah blah blah about how you can't. Trust me, you can. Here is your supply list. Go get it and come back.


A printed color picture of the painting
you want to copy. I just printed one at home.
Here's mine.
A canvas in whatever size you want.
I used one like this that was on clearance
for $3.95. You can see the staples on the side.

Acrylic craft paints. The super cheap $1 ones.
I like these because they had stickers with
the colors on top. Fancy.
Stand in front of the paint section with your
printed picture and choose paints that look
close to the ones in the painting. Get a BIG bottle
of white. Don't try to get every shade of each
color, you will mix your own lighter and
darker shades by adding white or other
colors. Get a bottle of Gold paint. Don't 
forget that and have to go back.

A package of inexpensive craft paint brushes.
Find one with a few different size brushes,
a large one for the background and
some smaller ones for the flowers.
Mine cost about $6.
Also get a pencil to sketch your design,
and a cup of water and 
some paper towels to clean your brushes
between colors.

Okay, I think you're ready.

The first step is to very lightly outline the painting onto your canvas. This is in no way a detailed drawing; it is more like a cartoon outline. Don't stress, for flowers draw circles. You are mostly just blocking out the spaces for things. Most of Lulie's paintings have a table with a container on it with flowers in the container. It helps to mentally divide your canvas into thirds and consider how she placed these three main elements. Does the table take up the bottom 1/3 or 1/4 of her canvas? Do the flowers go about 2/3 of the way up the canvas? Make yours match as closely as possible-but relax about getting it perfect-her look isn't even supposed to be perfect.
 Now you will paint in the big blocks of color, namely the background, the vase, and the area for the flowers. I used my larger paint brush for this and mostly painted in little half circle strokes. I kept my paint on the thick side and mixed my colors by putting a blob of white on my plastic plate and then putting little blobs of each of the two greens I had next to it. I would dip my brush in the white and then pull a little of the greens over and swirl them around together. 

I like how it looks to have parts of the canvas darker and parts lighter so as I reloaded my brush I didn't worry about mixing it the same each time. Variety is the spice of life, right?! Also, not being a perfectionist keeps us from going crazy.
In my inspiration painting the pitcher is white, but plain white paint wasn't showing up on my canvas so I added a little grey to it.

Also, if you look closely at my inspiration painting you can see that there is a bit of a pinky/beige "halo" around the flowers.
Lulie's beautiful original
I don't know how she created that but to replicate it I simply painted a pale pink over the whole flower area. On my first try I left white spaces where I planned to put my flowers and leaves but on my second try I thought it was easier to paint the whole area pink and then paint the flowers over it.

Here's my first one.
Here's my second one. You can see I filled in a lot more of the "halo" color on this one. It just needs to dry for 10 minutes or so before you start painting flowers over it. Also, do you dig how my easel is a kitchen chair with a book holding the painting up?
So now you have your four big areas painted and it's time to start adding details. I wanted to do my pitcher so I did that first using a little brush to outline and add the little dots. The gold paint makes for a pretty outline and I used it throughout the painting to give it the sketch like quality. I obviously didn't copy the original exactly because I just couldn't be that precise.
Next I started painting in some of the leaves. You can mix up different shades of green by adding white or blue to your basic green. After finishing a leaf you can go back with a little white to add highlights or darker green to add variation. While the paint is wet the colors blend nicely so just keeping working it until you like it. Or move on if you can't get it how you want...it doesn't have to be perfect.

About this time you will be bugged that your colors don't turn out just like Lulie's and all I can say is that you have to let it go. We are not famous artists, we are just happy to look at her work and make a little tribute to it for our own homes. Once I had copied her placement and general color palette I had to stop looking so much at the original and just do what looked nice to me so that I wouldn't get frustrated. 

Now paint some flowers. They are mostly blobs of color that you will add detail to with your gold outlining. 

My plastic plate paint holder was a big mess by now.
But I was almost done and that was pretty exciting! Here is and up close pic so you can appreciate how not perfect everything is but how it looks nice when it's all done (and you take a few steps back :-) ) 
Here is the almost finished painting with the grey background pattern in progress.
And here it is all done and hanging in my bedroom. This was ridiculously satisfying and I cannot encourage you enough to try it. So many of my friends have said they couldn't do this but I know that they can. You can too! It is so worth the small investment of time and money to experience the fun of making something beautiful yourself. Of course it won't be an exact copy of the original, but that's what makes it yours.
DIY Abstract Art
This is my bedroom but my end plan for this painting was to hang in my bathroom with the the second painting I did. I followed the same steps as before-here is the photo documentation for your viewing pleasure.
How to DIY abstract floral painting
And here they are happily hanging over the tub!
So, if you decide to do this will you pretty please share a link with me? Or a photo? I'd love to see how other beginning artists get on. Happy painting, friends!

Oh, did you want to see all that on flipgram? Here you go.

How To Paint Upholstery With Chalk Paint

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

I just finished taking an online decorating class from one of my favorite bloggers, The Nester, and the room I focused on is my family room, and the most fun/crazy/gorgeous thing I did was paint my old white chair this wonderful green. 

That sentence is a bit of a rough entry, but it seems to be the best I can come up with. Moving on.

I posted a photo on Instagram and it turns out that many of my friends want to know how this went down, so here, just for you, is a tutorial with video even of how to paint upholstery. I know! Crazy right?

I think step one is to start out with a chair that just can't possibly be any worse than it already is; that way you won't have to be scared that paint is going to ruin it. Here's mine.
Gross, right? I've had it for about 15 years and it has been folexed to death and steam cleaned several times and really, it was just nasty.

I can't believe I'm showing you this.

I knew was going to have to reupholster it or throw it away; when I saw someone else in my class painting their chair it seemed like it was worth a shot.

I decided to go big and used Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Antibes Green. I love this color! And I got it from a darling store called the The Boom Space in Danville, CA. If you're local you should go there, it is so sweet!

My supplies were: 
1 quart of chalk paint
1 two inch angled Purdy paint brush
a spray bottle with water in it
 a large plastic cup to put the paint in
blue painters tape
Annie Sloan clear wax
a brush for waxing 

Chalk paint is very low VOC so I just put a drop cloth down, taped off the wood legs, and painted my chair right in the family room. I wasn't bothered by fumes or bad smells at all. 

I diluted my paint with one part water to one part paint. You don't have to measure, chalk paint is very flexible. Just pour some paint into a container you plan to paint from and add what looks like the same amount of water. Mix it up well; I used a plastic knife. The paint will be really runny, which is great because you want to paint thin layers that are going to soak in and dye the fabric instead of sitting on top of it.

Begin by spraying the fabric lightly with water. This helps the paint penetrate the fabric better. I think. Spray along the sections you're painting as you go.

Now just go for it! Brush the paint every which way so that all the fibers get covered. Swirl your brush even. Here is a video of me painting. Yes, I am that committed to helping you do this.

It took two coats to cover the white canvas fabric on this chair and I only waited about two hours for the first coat to dry before putting on the second coat.  Looking at it now I think it could have used a third coat for really opaque coverage. As it is there are slight variations in the color. It almost looks like suede that has been brushed in different directions. I like it. Some online tutorials recommend lightly sanding between coats but I didn't because the cotton is already flat. I did try this technique on a dining chair covered in a velvety fabric and sanding that between coats helped keep the fibers from clumping together and getting too stiff.
After letting the paint dry for a solid 24 hours I applied a coat of clear wax.
 Here is a fascinating video of how I did that. Note that I avoided any talking so as not to freak you out with my totally weird and squeaky video voice. More importantly, note that I used only a small amount of wax at a time and brushed it on very lightly and quickly. My aim was to have only a light coat of the wax so I applied very little pressure to the brush and moved quickly to spread it around.

We didn't sit in the chair for another 24 hours to make sure the wax could really dry well and not come off on our clothes.
I am so happy with how this came out! And since I like you so much I'm going to try and answer all the questions you have before you give this a try. I'm kind of a mind reader, but if I missed any of your questions leave a comment and I'll get back to you.

Q. What does the fabric feel like after you paint and wax it?
A. It definitely feels stiffer. If you are familiar with sunbrella indoor/outdoor fabric, it feels a lot like that. It isn't uncomfortable, but it isn't soft and cozy either. I wouldn't do this to your favorite reading and napping chair, but for your "occasionally a guest sits here chair," it's perfect!
Q. How much paint does it take? Do you have to use chalk paint?
A. It took a lot of paint. This one chair used about 3/4 of a quart of ASCP, and that's with watering it down. I love the colors and quality of ASCP so for me it was worth it, but I've seen other tutorials online where people use latex paint mixed with fabric medium so you could check that out too.
Q. How will it hold up?
A. So far, so good. The wax helps to protect the painted fabric from wear and tear, but again, I wouldn't do this on a piece that sees a lot of traffic.
Q. Shelley! Has it turned your bum green? And doesn't the wax stick to your clothes?
A. Nope. And I've wiggled my seat around in there just to be sure before I let any guests sit in it :-)
Last Q. How does it really look? Like, you can make anything look good in pictures, we want the TRUTH.
A. It looks really good. Thinning the paint means it really soaks in and dyes the fabric so it looks like the chair was upholstered in green fabric, not like I slapped craft paint over it. Other fabrics might be trickier, but cotton upholstery canvas took the paint super well.
I love the pop of color and contrast that the bright green adds to the room. If you are thinking of doing this, I say go for it!

*Next up: making slipcover for big brown.

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