I am in the process of laying out a special project; it’s undoubtedly the most important project I have done or may ever do. The layout itself has taken two days alone; I’m cutting up text and repositioning pieces, changing sizing. Late into the night, I sampled different ink and calligraphy tips on parchment paper sheets. By the end of the night, my right hand was smudged from fingertip to wrist bone with black ink and every finger in between was flecked with India ink spots. Probably this weekend will be the stretch to complete the piece and I will be able to feature all of the pictures. In the meantime, here are some beginning snapshots.
With a completed painting above the fireplace and a Superbowl party around the corner – this week will be a push to finish these lingering projects. It was an amazingly beautiful day today – at the end of January; on the anniversary of my engagement – how better to spend the afternoon with the one you love but cutting wood to build a frame? My husband came home and I had already mitred the corners of the second quality knotty pine 1″ by 3″ boards he had picked up for me the day before at Home Depot. I wanted barn wood, but of course the hunt for barn wood would have taken way too long and past the weekend at least before I could track it down – not to mention how long it would sit in the garage until I finished it. The next best thing to authentic barn wood is faux barn wood.
As I mentioned, I pre-cut the wood before putting the finish on it. In hindsight, I wish I had photographed this during the process because it actually turned out much better than I thought it would. However, the after pictures explain the result well and it was so simple I think anyone could do it. I lightly sanded the boards, but not too much to preserve the rustic finish of the natural wood. I used Minwax stain in a walnut color and coated the wood in one layer, keeping it dry and avoiding any puddles of stain or drips. I did not wait for the stain to dry before I used a flat head screwdriver to make long irregular cuts going lengthwise down the boards to create a damaged finish. Also at irregular intervals, I gouged the wood with the screwdriver knowing that the second coat of a whitewash would settle nicely in the cuts and gouges to create the weathered look. I painted white acrylic paint in thick layers on top of the stain, wiped it off with a paper towel as I worked, and immediately sanded the white off until it was barely visible on the surface, but rested in the indentations I had made.
After the finish was complete, I nailed the four pieces in place around the frame and put it back on the fireplace to be hung sometime later on. This project was so quick and easy – literally from cutting the wood, to having the stain finished, and the painting back in position on the mantle took all of an hour’s worth of time. Below is a close up of the finished product.
Now that my fireplace is bare, I have to come up with my focal point for the family room that will be what I am designing around. I know my color scheme will be blues and neutral tones so I am not sure if I want to pin myself down to something that matches or to go with something entirely neutral so I can move things around when I want change again.
I have been searching Pinterest this week to no avail and I almost have every pin of interest to me catalogued in my head. I am always drawn to motivational quotes and designs that contain lettering; something that is a reminder about making my children’s lives rich and fulfilling or always striving for your full potential are among my favorites. I also love muted tones for this room like the horse watercolor above that I did in college – but it seems content above the sink in the laundry room. Anything that has birds or nests are favorites.
I have a 24 by 50 inch canvas that I am thinking I will use to create new artwork. I can’t decide whether to keep it as a whole piece, separate it in two, or even three. I am also thinking of incorporating other objects like piano sheet music or copper details. Any ideas?
I hear tomorrow may be our first real snow day – forcing us indoors to find other things to do. I have a two foot stack of work prepared that I am contemplating whether or not to risk leaving it for my workday tomorrow to plow through it and turn out tons and tons of deadline items or take it home in hopes of having a day off to do the same thing – plus some painting and projects. Tomorrow may be the big bedroom move – but I thought I would post some pictures of my last snow day art.
My friend Larry is a professional woodworker with Custom Hope Chests of Virginia. A couple of years ago, before we knew each other except for the fact that we both had a mutual friend in my husband, Larry tested the water after learning that I liked to paint and sent home one lid of a hope chest as a test. He liked my little painting of an old green Ford pickup parked next to a barn on a pumpkin field with Canadian geese brewing about and sent a stack (pictured in When will the first snow day be?)
I started this painting by adding little animals and suddenly lost interest. The animals took tons of time to paint and when it seemed liked I’d never finished I abandoned the design and started on a different one. It’s kind of like when you abandon books, later to return to them. I decided I had to finish the lid and revamped the design. The chest shape would look Ark like in its color and I found the cutest poem that would compliment the animals. The words were done with brush calligraphy style in a kid friendly print font and filled the space.
A calligrapher that I know told me that mistakes are rarely permanent and I didn’t believe her until I started working on this again. I sanded some animals off and re-stained until I had the layout I liked. I used tracing paper to write the words out prior to writing them on the wood – lightly so the texture of the wood would not show the indentations of the lettering. From the tracing paper, I was able to estimate the length each line of lettering would take to easily position it where it should go on my final product.
It is so hard to find time for creative outlets. Between working full time, studying for tests (kids), coaching basketball (for my son) with basketball games on the weekend, laundry and the folding, cooking dinner, cleaning the house, collecting the cat hair rolling into corners only 30 seconds after I vacuumed, the day seems like it is finished before I know it and it’s on to the next with more of the same. When I open my eyes each morning – everything I thought that could be accomplished in one day’s time rarely is. I am a chronic list maker – it makes me feel happy to see things drain from my brain onto paper so I am able to manage them more easily. I relish in writing tiny infinitesimal items just so I can cross things off. I had a conversation with one of the girls at work who is another project person and she said she hasn’t been able to paint since college. You know who you are – and I hope you’ll take the time to enrich yourself with creating something new. Life is busy and I need the reminder to enjoy. My creative energy seems to have no end. Mixed among the things to do to maintain the house and stay afloat are my daydream plans to always make something better – by sewing, painting, building. I have to set aside that time for projects to rejuvenate myself. These paintings were one of those small sections of time when nobody was hollering “Mama” and I was able to be with my own thoughts. Each one took about 15 minutes, but those 15 minutes were well – savored and another reason I can’t redecorate and get rid of the reds in my house – they are my reminder to create.