February 28, 2011

Spring has Sprung

The birds are chirping, flowers are already starting to bloom and allergy season has started.  Soon, all of Texas will be layered in a yellow coat of pollen.  I am already suffering from my first sinus infection of the season and most certainly not my last.  Oh how I despise allergy season...why does it have to be so beautiful out while I am so miserable?  Not much crafting or creating going on in my world right now, but I can show you the glimpse of beautiful spring I saw while at the park with my kids.  Enjoy!

BTW, if anyone could please tell me what type of flower I found at the park, that would be fantastic.  It was found on a tree/shrub.  Thanks!

February 25, 2011

Why You Should Always Carry A Camera

It was drilled into my head to always carry a camera.  First by my mom and my grandmother (both of whom love to take photos) and then in art school by my professors.  You never know when a moment is going to present itself that you want to capture forever.  Yesterday, one of those moments happened!

That is Maben sitting in a helicopter!  Let me start our random awesome adventure story from the beginning!

Maben is the star of the week in his preschool class.  As part of being star of the week, he needs to take his class mascots home with him and get their picture taken with him doing something fun.  (Seriously, perfect karmic timing!)  Driving home from preschool after picking up Maben, enter my neighborhood and see a helicopter flying really low.  I realize that helicopter is LANDING!  I did a quick assessment to figure out where it was landing and realized it was the field next to my neighborhood that borders some commercial property.  We pull up on the side of the field where my neighborhood is and I pulled Maben out of the car and we watched the helicopter land.  Maben...totally excited!  Me...just as excited for my son!  I asked Maben, "Do you want to go see the helicopter?"  (Totally stupid question I know)  Maben, "YES!"  I put him back in the car and drive around to this restaurant, "El Jarrito."  As I pull into the parking lot the two gentlemen from the helicopter walk in. 

I park the car and feel a little weird just walking up to a helicopter without asking permission.  So, I grab the kids and head for the restaurant.  (I know, I have no shame)  I ask the host inside if it is alright if I talk to the gentlemen who came in on the helicopter and he looks at me like I am nuts.  So I ask where the two guys are that just came in.  He points and I walk over. 

"Excuse me, I don't mean to interrupt but..."  Maben, "PICTURE WITH HELICOPTER!!!"  "As you can see, my son would love a picture with your helicopter, do you mind if we get close and check it out?"

Awesomely nice man, "Of course, go ahead and check it out.  If you want, stick around until we are done eating and he can sit in it!"

"Really?  Awesome, we would love that!" 

So, we headed back outside and took a look at the helicopter and a few photos.

We then ate snack in the car and watched a bulldozer push around some sand (construction right near the helicopter). 

The two awesomely nice gentlemen come out (with a couple workers at the restaurant in tow) and they let Maben hop inside the helicopter.  He was super excited, so excited he could hardly speak. 

After chatting with the really nice guys for a while, it was time for them to leave.  So, we back up and got to watch the take off.  That was by far the most exciting part for both of my boys and myself.  I forgot to mention, Colton was with us the whole time, but so scared/excited he didn't want to leave my side.

 Right before they started it up

Hugging Dolly and Squirt after they started up the helicopter.

The absolute perfect shot!

So, just the most perfect example of why you should always carry a camera EVERYWHERE!  You never know when the most perfect opportunity will present itself. 

It made such a big impact on Colton, that as soon as we got home he found Herold the Helicopter from our Thomas the Train set and played with it for an hour.  Maben also cannot stop talking about the helicopter.  What an amazing adventure!

February 24, 2011

My Experience at the Museum: Part 2

If you missed yesterday's post, check out Part 1 here.

Jumping right back in.

I really liked the detail in this painting.  I think capturing the essence and energy of a city scene is difficult.

Pont Neuf Paris, Henriot

Next to each painting there is a description and the description for this one had me laughing out loud.  Apparently, to get the people to stand still long enough to sketch them accurately, Henriot had his brother go out and strike up a conversation with them.  Ingenious!  

This was the painting I hated the most.  I found it unfinished and kind of disturbing.  Let me explain after I show it to you.

The Cradle, Monet

One thing I learned when drawing/painting any living being, that you must capture light in their eyes...otherwise they look dead.  Create some sort of a reflection in the eyes.  This baby's eyes (by the way, this is Monet's son and wife in the painting) are black.  Solid black...it creeps me out.  The baby looks dead.  Also, Monet's wife looks like she has had one too many and is going to fall out of that chair.  Overall...HATED this painting.  Not the best way to depict your family.

Onto the painting that I wanted to steal and hang in my kitchen, because let's face it, my kitchen needs some decoration.  

Three Peaches, Latour

I found this still life just perfect.  The use of color and brush stroke made the wood grain appear as if it were photographed.  The tones were rich, the peaches looked good enough to eat and I loved the contrast that the plate creates.  

I was so excited to see a Degas in person.  What little girl doesn't dream of being one of the dancers depicted in a Degas.  Such beauty and grace.  Okay, maybe not all little girls dream of that, but I did.

 Dancers Backstage, Degas

This painting doesn't exactly depict the beauty and grace that some of his others do, but I was just super excited to see a Degas in person.  This was also a very small painting.  It was smaller than an 8x10 inch photo. 

I was also super excited to see a Seurat in person.  What type of crazy do you have to be to create large paintings using nothing but dots?  I think I fully understand that level of crazy, because I have done a drawing like that and LOVED doing it.  By the way, the style of creating a picture out of dots is called pointillism. 

The Lighthouse at Honfleur, Seurat

There were two Seurat paintings there, this one I enjoyed much more than the other.  I love seeing beautiful seascapes void of people.  Maybe it's because I love to walk along a beach by myself, I find it so soothing and relaxing.  I would love to have a little piece of beach all to myself.  This painting makes me think that is possible. 

Onto the last two painting, both of which were done by Van Gogh.  My reaction to both paintings were opposite to what I expected to experience. 

Roses, Van Gogh

I have seen this one in many art books and thought it was nothing special.  That was until I saw it.  It is so stunning in person...it took my breath away!  I told my husband after seeing this that I would eagerly trade in every TV in the house to have this hanging in our house.  The way the paint was layered onto the canvas gave this an almost 3D effect.  Some of the flowers really looked like they were coming out away from the canvas.  It was really neat.  

Self Portrait, Van Gogh

Van Gogh did a lot of self portraits throughout his many years of painting.  This one was towards the end of his life.  If you know anything about Van Gogh it is probably that he cut his ear off and he was crazy.  This self portrait gave me a sense of anger and desperation when I looked into his eyes.  It gave me a very creepy, eerie feeling.  I can't say that I enjoyed it, but I definitely respected it.  I think he painted himself as he was.  There was no lying to himself when he created this.  

I hope you all enjoyed the museum with me.  If you live anywhere near Houston...go see this exhibit before it is gone.  It was an unforgettable experience and I have so many great ideas that need some refining.  It gave me a great creative surge that I need to gain control over and put to work.  I also need to get back to the museum and check out some of their permanent collection!!!

February 23, 2011

My Experience at the Museum: Part 1

First of all, can I just say "WOW!"  Seeing the Impressionist and Post Impressionist Exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston was AMAZING!!!  I also have no excuse not to check out the permanent collection because I am now a member.  Houston has an amazing museum district and I highly recommend checking it out.  I have been to several museums in this area, just not the Fine Arts Museum...until yesterday.

I experienced such a range of emotions during the exhibit, it is so hard to describe, but I am going to try.  When I first walked in, I was surrounded by Cezanne, Bazille, Monet, Manet.  It gave me chills!  I literally had goosebumps.  It's been a long time since I have been surrounded by this many masterpieces.  In the first room was one of my all time favorite paintins and it did NOT disappoint.  It gave me a new appreciation for it's beauty.

Woman with Parasol, Monet

The subjects in this painting are Monet's wife and son.  The woman has such an ethereal feeling about her because of the way the light radiates from behind her.  I thought that seeing one of my favorites right away would put a shadow over the rest of the collection, but I was wrong! 

Madame Henriot, Renoir

This was the next painting that had me awestruck.  Such a beautiful portrait and reminded me of Anne Hathaway.  Such timeless beauty.  So feminine, so delicate and just so beautiful.
The first disappointment of the exhibit for me was this painting below.
Japanese Footbridge, Monet

How could such a classic that everyone knows fall so flat for me?  I don't know, but it wasn't as great as I had imagined it to be.  I imagined the colors to be a little more vivid (because lets face it, most of these paintings were more vibrant and intense in person), I imagined that I would have more of an emotional response.  It was honestly, just a nice painting.  Never could I have imagined saying that about such an iconic Monet.

Mary Cassatt is one of my favorite painters.  I love the way she paints, I love that she paints a lot of women and children with such beauty.  She truly has the ability to capture the emotion and liveliness of a child.  She is able to capture the beauty and femininity of a woman.  I was so happy to be able to see this painting.

Child in a Straw Hat, Cassatt

When I saw this painting, I wanted that child to jump out of the painting just so I could give her a hug.  This little girl, you can tell is sad, her cheeks so rosy and her lips pouted.  My heart just poured out in a way that it has not done before when viewing a painting.  It was unbelievable.  It reminded me I was a mother and I love my children.

I was introduced to an artist that I don't recall learning about in Art School.  In all honesty, I probably did, but had forgotten about.  My art history classes crammed so much information is such a short period of time that they are honestly a blur.  

The Harbor at Lorient, Berthe Morisot

This artist creates such beautiful paintings, that I was sad to learn that she stopped painting after she got married.  Unfortunately, that was very common back then.  I would have loved to see more, so much more.  I left Morisot's paintings just wanting more.

Do you want more?  Please stay tuned tomorrow for Part 2.

February 22, 2011

Van Gogh, Seurat and Monet...OH MY!

Today, I am at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston checking out their Impressionists and Post-Impressionists exhibit that is currently on loan from The National Gallery in Washington, D.C.  I have been geeking out about this since I found out I could go with some girlfriends minus children.  I love taking my kids to museums, but seriously...did NOT want to take them to this, at least not the first time I see it.  I know my kids don't have the patience that I do when it comes to admiring works of art of this caliber.  I could easily catch myself examining any one of these paintings for at least 20 minutes. 

I cannot wait to see some of these pieces in person.  I love the feeling (the almost indescribable) feeling that you get when you are awestruck by such beauty. I am going to get to see these tomorrow!  My stomach is a flutter with anticipation.

 Self Portait, Van Gogh

 Dancer, Renoir

 Seascape, Seurat

 Japanese Footbridge, Monet

Woman with Parasol, Monet

The biggest disappointment...I won't be able to take any photos!  Museum policy.  I am seriously bummed by that.  I would love to have my photo taken next to any one of these stunning masterpieces.  I am just going to have to settle for a small reproduction or postcard from the gift shop.  Oh well...still so excited.  I will report back tomorrow with how my visit with these beauties went.

February 20, 2011

Blast From the Past: Portrait of Maben

I am having a fairly busy weekend, so I haven't done much creative.  I have house guests and today will be cooking up a turkey!  So, instead of leaving you hanging all weekend, I am throwing up a blast from the past.

This is my son Maben.  I took a ton of photos right around his first birthday and decided to draw one.  I still need to work on Colton's one year portrait.  The reason I chose this look, it was a very common look.  For a while, Maben loved to squish his nose up and say cheese, which always made his eyes look so beautiful and me giggle.  He was playing in a kiddie pool when the photo was taken and I loved the blue kiddie pool in the background, so when drawing the portrait, I just simplified the background to the blue and not include all the crazy designs that were on the kiddie pool.  I hope you enjoy this blast from my past.

February 18, 2011

Preschool Class Craft: Part 3

If you are just tuning into this series, you can click on the links below to catch up.
Preschool Class Craft: Part 1
Preschool Class Craft: Part 2

Last night I was able to complete the planter boxes (mostly) on either side of the bench.

Now, there were a few minor mishaps that happened.  I broke two drill bits.  Sorry hunny!  I plan on replacing them.  The other thing I discovered?  See the photo below.

Once that small problem is fixed, the construction of the planter boxes will be DONE!  All I have left in regards to construction is the bench.  Then a whole bunch of other steps, but I don't want to give away everything yet.  There is still the part about how the kids are coming into play on this whole process.

Stay tuned!!!

BTW...showing this off over at Sawdust and Paper Scraps. 

Build{hers} club Button

February 17, 2011

Photo Label Tutorial

Does it ever drive you nuts when your kids just toss all their toys into a giant pile and that is their idea of picking up?  Well, it drives me insane!  I am a person who likes to sort, things need to be stored with like things.  It makes things easier to find.  I am not a neat freak, my house is quite disorganized, but there are certain areas of the house that I have tackled and been trying to keep up with the organization.  The toy area in our living room is one of them.  We don't have a dedicated play room, if we did, I am sure I would just shut the door and not be bothered with it.  Since that isn't the case, this is the solution I have come up with.

I bought some mobile drawers and have used that to keep the clutter of toys at bay.  For the most part it works.  I can thank my 3 year old for helping keep everything organized, because I think I passed down the "sorting/matching" gene to him.  My 16 month old did not get that gene.  He is utter chaos and I am hoping that the photo toy labels will help him when it comes to picking up.

Now, I will show you just how easy it is to create these labels. I was so happy with how they turned out, I think I just might create a bunch of these labels for my craft room.

What you need:
White Poster Board
Shipping Labels
Photo Editing Software
Microsoft Word

I first set up my photo area.  I taped my poster board to a chair and put it near a window.

So professional right?  But the outcome was exactly what I wanted.

Once I had taken photos of a handful of items from each drawer, I uploaded all my photos to Adobe Photoshop Elements 9 and cropped to the same size as my shipping labels, touched up my photos and added the text.

I then opened up Microsoft Word.  I have version 2007.  In that version, you need to select "Mailings," then "Labels."  It will open up a window and you will select "Options..." and then the make and number of your labels.  Mine were made by Avery and the number was 6878.  You then select, "New Document" and it has the format all set up for you.  All you have to do now is insert your photos.

I printed out my completed labels and they looked great!

All I had to do now was stick them to the drawer fronts and I was done!  My 3 year old watched me do this part and was fascinated and super excited about them.  Now all I can do is hope this helps the little one learn that all his toys have a place to be put away.  He is young still, so I am optimistic that it will catch on.

I am so happy with how it looks.  All I have been doing now is thinking of all the things I can label.

February 16, 2011

It's Love

I finally upgraded to a new camera, a DSLR!!!  I am so excited and happy and in love.  In love with my hubby who gave it to me for Valentine's day and in love with the camera.  I plan on taking a lot of photos with it and can't wait to figure out all the features that my old camera doesn't have. 


I now have a Pentax K-x.  The coolest thing about the Pentax DSLR cameras is that you can use your old Pentax 35mm Camera lenses on them.  Since I have 3 lenses that have basically been sitting in a bag collecting dust for a few years, it makes me feel good that I will be able to use them again.  (I even tried to sell them a while ago and was told that they were worthless...hahaha, no they aren't!)  I know that Canon and Nikon have pretty much cornered the market in America with the DSLR's, but I have heard nothing but positive things about Pentax and am so excited to get to know this camera.

Yes, I got the obnoxious red one.  It's doesn't bother me, especially since it was almost $100 cheaper than the black one.  It was purchased at B&H Photo Video online. 

My old camera was a Fuji FinePix S1000.  It was a great point and shoot, a little bulkier than most, but I made it work for me and it did a phenomenal job.  I loved it so much, that in the last 3+ years that I have owned it, I have taken over 16,000 photos with it!  I typed that correctly, with the comma in the right place. 

My Fuji is still working well and I plan on using it when I need a smaller camera with me.  I purchased it through Amazon, a newer version of my old camera is located here, Fujifilm FinePix.  I would highly recommend this to someone who wants to get to know manual settings before taking the plunge into a DSLR.  I found this camera to be very user friendly and still love it. 

So, what kind of camera do you tote around?  Do you love it?

February 14, 2011

Sketch Book Cover

I have talked about wanting to draw more and fill an entire sketchbook.  I went out and bought a sketchbook and that same day saw this awesome tutorial over at Momma Go Round and decided I could tweak it for a sketchbook.

Isn't it just beautiful!?!  I love how it turned out.

After I saw the original tutorial, I started thinking about it and wanted to make it work better for me.  I wanted a way to carry at least a few pens or pencils around with me at all times, so I decided to add a pocket.  It didn't want to do a full tutorial on how to add a pocket, because I honestly didn't know if it would work.  I will definitely have to do this again, because it turned out much better than I had thought it would. 

It holds 5-6 pens or pencils without them bunching up on top of each other.  So, it remains relatively flat.  I can definitely shove more in there if I don't care about any bulkiness.

Now, if this doesn't give me some motivation to start using a sketchbook...I honestly don't know what will.

Thank you Nina over at Momma Go Round for the inspiration.

Oh, and I almost forgot...HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY!

February 13, 2011

Preschool Class Craft: Part 2

If you are just turning in to this regularly scheduled program, you may want to catch up by checking out Part 1 located here.

I finished (or so I thought) cutting boards yesterday.  See my lovely pile of boards?

Once this was done, I got to start on the construction of the class craft.  Have you figured out what it is yet?  Well, probably not, so I will tell you.  I am building a bench with a planter box on either side of it.  You will have to stay tuned to see how the kids are going to help with this.

Anyways, onto the construction of the planter bench.  I got the plans for the planter bench here (updated link).  They are from the Minwax website.  I am assuming that someone put this together successfully, because there was a picture of it finished on their website.  I do however, have some doubts due to the experience I just had assembling one of the planter boxes and the size of the photo on their website being super small.

See, itty bitty tiny picture.  Looks can be deceiving when you shrink a photo that small and you can't enlarge it.  I had a few boards split on me and attaching those feet....completely busted two of them.  So now, I need to cut more boards.  I drilled pilot holes, followed the directions and still had complications.  I am going to make this work, either because I am stubborn or determined...the jury is still out on which. 

Here is one of the planter boxes almost completed.

And another view.  I still have to do the trim at the top, but it is coming along.

Stay tuned to see how this all comes together and how the kids are going to help me make this craft a great one!

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