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Sketchbook Inspiration

I thought I would keep the sketchbook theme going and tell you about two new books that I am head-over-heels in love with.

The first one: 

The Art of Urban Sketching by Gabriel Campanario takes you on a whirlwind trip around the world through the eyes of urban sketchers.  As he explains, “The beauty of sketching is that, almost by definition, a sketch can be completed as simply and quickly as you like.” The book is a showcase of talent from all over the world. The sketches are as diverse as the people and the scenery.

Campanario really knows what he talks about as he is the founder of the nonprofit organization, Urban Sketchers. Each artist has a small bio, description of how/when and maybe why they sketch and the materials used. I found it fascinating to get a peek at their process. Each time I flip it open I see something new and different.

The second book is:

Drawn In by Julia Rothman also gives you a peek into sketchbooks but differs in that the subject of the sketches is totally different. This book has a similar format, a short bio of the artist and a few interview questions follow. The variety of styles and subject matter is my favourite part of this book.

Who doesn’t like to peek? To see behind the scenes? I love the roughness, the thinking you can see on the page.

Now, where is that sketchbook? Time to get busy. Here are a few pictures I took on a walk yesterday…maybe inspiration for a page?

What inspires you? I would love to hear…happy creating.

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Sketchbook exercise…

Get a sketchbook, it just might change your life…seriously.

I know mine did.

I love creating, dabbling, sketching and trying out new ideas but when I am in the ‘creating’ phase nothing will stop the flow quicker than an expensive piece of paper or canvas. I need a place where I can make mistakes and try new things. A sketchbook gives me permission to fail, to make a mistake, to experiment without fear. OK, at least with less fear…

Here are a few of my latest dabbles…

I love trying a zentangle or two to warm up a blank page. The one above is from JJ, she has a flickr page with step-by-step instructions on how to get started.

I recently stumbled upon an amazing artist, Julie Fei-Fan Balzer. She created the above project as an art journal page. I wanted to try it out for myself before I teach it to my students.

Spring flowers and a micron pen…nothing can be easier than that. I drew this while my kids were busy playing in the backyard. The birds were chirping, the breeze was blowing and the sun was shining.

Here is another take on flowers:

10 minutes a day in your sketchbook will warm you up, help you work through your fears and distill a few ideas. Give it a try…

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Nail Polish Art

Its been a little psychedelic around here. I was inspired to pull out the polish and get creating by the amazing Carla Sonheim. She was watching a tutorial on a marbling technique for painting your nails here  and came up with this great technique using watercolour paper.

Soooo…grab your nail polish, watercolour paper, a disposable cup, a rubber glove, some newspaper and get going!

I must warn you though, that this is definitely an outdoor activity. My girl’s and I did it this weekend inside and I ended up with a horrible headache…go outside to avoid the fumes.

  1. Fill a disposable cup with water almost to the very top.
  2. Have a few colours of nail polish open and ready to apply.
  3. Simply place a drop of nail polish on the water and add different colours. If you want a marble effect use the end of a paper clip and drag it through the colours. ****Work fast as the polish dries fairly quickly and will become gummy and unworkable. It takes a bit of practise and experimenting to get it just right, have fun with it.****
  4. Cut a circle of watercolour paper that is slightly smaller than your disposable cup and drop it on top of the polish. Press it down and bit and use your paper clip or finger to pull it out. Place it on a newspaper to dry. And voila…

After you have removed your paper from the cup use your paper clip to drag across the surface of the water to clear away any nail polish residue.

After the paper dries (20 minutes should do it) you can arrange a few on a your choice of coloured paper. I love the way they turned out and I have to say we had an absolute blast making them, aside from the migraine that is.

We went a little crazy…

Check out Carla’s amazing blog to see her creations. Stick around and become inspired by her amazing work, I know it always works for me!

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Create Some Colour with DIY Tulips

I need some colour in my life! The grey days of February are getting me down…anyone else? Mother Nature isn’t providing a colour break so I rolled up my sleeves and created my own.

I knew I wanted to use bright coloured paper with variation, not  flat coloured card stock.  I didn’t have any so I grabbed my sketch book, some ink in pink, blue and plum and painted a few sheets. Nothing is quite as therapeutic as spreading colour around a white piece of paper. Try it and I guarantee an instant mood lift.

Let your colourful papers dry while you make a few templates for the petals. I used an old cracker box and drew a vaguely heart-shaped petal.

The large petal measured 5cm wide and 5cm high and about 2cm at the bottom. The smaller petal was about 4cm x 4cm.

Now its time to cut, cut, cut. For each tulip you will need 6 large and 2 small petals.

After the petals are finished cut a small slit in the bottom and glue the ends folded over. Either hold the ends together until the glue is dry (could take forever) or use a clothes pin to keep it together like this:

For the base of the flower cut out a quarter sized circle of paper and glue three of the large petals to the circle leaving a small space between each one. Then take the last three large petals and glue them on top of the first three filling in the spaces in between. Lastly, take the two smaller petals and glue them on top. For the center I cut out a spiral shape from a piece of yellow paper and rolled it up and glued it on. I used flower wire taped to the bottom of the tulip as a stem.

Ahhh…colour. That feels better already.

For this post I was inspired by fellow blogger, Patricia Zapata, at A Little Hut. She is an amazing graphic designer, crafter and author. Please check out her tutorial for a paper flower gift topper.

Happy creating everyone…

I am linking up to:, Skip To My Lou, Type A, Katie’s Nesting Spot, Crafty, Scrappy, Happy,



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Inspired by Collage

Over the past couple of weeks I have found myself drawn more and more to collage. My Pinterest board is full of them. There is just something magical about cutting up a magazine, a scrap of paper, junk mail or other items and putting them together in a way that expresses yourself. Adding paint and other mediums to the work transforms the page and changes the way the viewer sees. Here are a few of my current favourites:

This collage, Black Eyed Sue, by Elizabeth St. Hilaire Nelson is so full of energy and color, I love it. She also has a DVD, Collage: An Overview of the Creative Process. I really want to order a copy to find out how she creates her work.

This portrait collage, “T.I.”, by Ian Wright is so visually compelling that I find it hard to look away.

Donna Downey is an incredible mixed media artist. She produced this work during a four-hour drive using stack of old magazines, a pair of scissors and a glue stick.

She has totally inspired me to give it a whirl. Time to get my own dusty pile of magazines, clear off my work table and cut and paste. The whole process  reminds  me a bit of my favourite grade in school, kindergarten.

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My Newest Art Discovery…

Oh boy! I discovered Jill Connor on Pinterest and absolutely love her work. Check out a few of her amazing tissue paper collages:

Don’t you just love these? The colours, the images, the whimsical artistry. What can I say, I am a fan.

It inspired me to try a few with my kids. We grabbed some Bristol board, a stack of tissue paper, and a bottle of Mod Podge.

And that is how we spent a rainy Sunday afternoon. Fun. Even with all the tissue paper bits that have travelled everywhere. And the Mod Podge that spilled…

Now its my turn, I want to give it a shot. Her art really is that good. Check out her website:

What do you think?


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DIY Birthday Party

photo courtesy of

Before I had kids I would fantasize about hosting their birthday parties. Oh what fun! Balloons, streamers, cupcakes, icing, pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey, giggling children and happy smiles.

Hmm…it’s still a fantasy for me. I have hosted my share of birthday parties and this is what I have learned, throw ‘perfect’ right out the door where it belongs.

Let’s be honest here, birthday parties for kids are highly controversial. Everyone has an opinion! Just mention that you are planning a party and the unwanted advice comes flying your way. I used to really get caught up in the whole party hoopla. The ugly truth of competition, the worry that your kid won’t enjoy it (I just blew up 30 balloons damn it!), and just the stress of trying to make everything perfect.

The last two birthdays I have chosen to just focus on what I really want, a day to celebrate the gift of their life. Isn’t that the whole reason we do this?

Loot bags are one of the touchiest areas of birthday parties. There are so many different camps, “It’s all junk”, “Why do we have to give these things?”, “Great, what do I do with all this crap?”, and on and on. This year I wanted to eliminate the plastic and get a bit creative. Normally I am running into a party store at the last-minute and picking up the pre-made loot bags. There is nothing wrong with this – I just wanted to do it differently this year.

And this is what I came up with:

I wrapped up the loot with craft paper, grabbed some glittery ribbon and made a felt gift topper to finish it off. It was fun, yes, I actually had fun making the loot bags. Crazy I know.

I have twins and I wanted the invitation to show a bit of both of them. I am the opposite of a card maker, I am not exacting, I have little patience and I can’t deal with intricate details. I let go of my imperfections and gave this a try:

The girl’s and I had spent some time on Pinterest looking for  the perfect cupcake recipe. We found it, the cutest and easiest (I hoped) recipe for owl cupcakes. And they worked! It was the first time I made their birthday cupcakes from scratch.

OK, they look a little wonky, and they are definitely not perfect, and finally I realize that isn’t the point, is it?

How do you navigate the birthday battle field? I would love to hear any tips or experiences! I love comments, they make my day…


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Make Your Own Wine Bag

We were lucky this weekend to be invited over to our wonderful friends house for dinner. Now this wasn’t the usual come-over-for-dinner invitation, these friend of ours are very generous and Shannon is a gourmet cook.

So after enjoying a lazy Saturday I went downstairs to find a couple of wine bags to bring our hostess gift over in and lo and behold I couldn’t find a single bag. My husband offered to run out and pick up a few but the clock was ticking and I knew we would be late.  I spotted some craft paper and sheets of felt and gave myself a shake. Get crafty! So I did.

Super simple, super easy and I had fun trying to do it as quickly as I could. Just wrap up the wine in the paper, tie a ribbon, and bust out a few felt flowers, and voila…

I even remembered to take a few pictures before we scrambled out the door. How nice is that?

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Saturday Morning Doll Making

OK, usually I am the first one to suggest a craft. But I must admit this morning my girls beat me to it. It was early…dare I say too early to get crafty? Craft blasphemy I know…but still, there should be a little time for laziness on a Saturday morning.
My girl’s grabbed a few clothes pins and wanted to transform them into dolls. I rubbed my eyes, plugged in the glue gun, filled my mug with some tea and away we went.

This is the prototype I came up with. I wrapped a pipe cleaner around the clothes pin for arms. Cut out a dress shape from a scrap of fabric and used fabritac to seal up the edges. I knew for sure it was too early for mom to be wielding a needle and thread! The glue gun worked well to attach the head and then I handed it all over to two very eager girls who couldn’t wait to create.

They used markers for the facial features, beads for hands and feet and lots of fabric for the clothes. Ooh the magic of a glue gun (with supervision of course!). It is a cold Saturday morning here so hats and scarves were mandatory.

Easy, fun, and creative. And with all the doll playing mommy had a chance to sneak off to the computer…ahhh saturday morning.

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Making a Fall Wreath: My First Attempt

I finally did it! After admiring all the fall wreaths on Pinterest Logo I took the plunge and  made my own. If you are as addicted to Pinterest as I am, you know how easy it is to spend all of your time just collecting all the creative pins without actually making any of your own. It was time to try it.

Because it was my first attempt I didn’t want it to cost a lot of money – just in case I had to dump into the garbage if it didn’t work. When I went to Michael’s to look at the wreath forms I couldn’t believe they were charging between $12 and $20 for them. I had noticed a more budget-friendly idea on Pinterest using pipe insulation from Home Depot as a cheaper alternative and gave it a try.

It totally worked! I learned the hard way with my first attempt to ensure that you securely duct tape the ends together or your form may start pulling apart.

Other than budget concerns I didn’t want my wreath to look too fussy and old-fashioned. I really wanted it to have a contemporary feel. I am happy with the way it turned out but have now been bitten by the wreath bug and want to try so many other ideas…

Here is how I did it:

I used:

  • Foam pipe insulation from Home Depot or any hardware store. They come in different sized diameters, I would suggest the thickest one you can find. I wish I had bought a thicker one as the form would be more in proportion, mine is a little on the skinny side.
  • Yarn for wrapping around the wreath form. I show a tiny ball in my picture but you need quite a bit to wrap the entire wreath.
  • Sharp scissors for cutting the pipe insulation and felt.
  • Glue gun for the flowers and other embellishments you want to add.
  • Fabri Tac as an alternative glue for some of the felt flowers.
  • A mug or your favourite TV and the radio tuned to CBC…
The most time-consuming part was wrapping the yarn around the form. Take your time and make it tight and neat, all your effort really pays off in the end. I made smaller balls of yarn to make it easier to wrap around my form. An idea I had for my next one is to leave the pipe insulation straight to make it easier to wrap and then just at the end duct tape the ends together. This will save all the passing the yarn around the circle. It’s worth a try…
When I had it wrapped up I grabbed another cup of tea and set about making my felt flowers and used the glue gun to attach them to the wreath. So easy. I finished the whole thing in just over an hour.
Whew! This was so easy I can’t wait to make another one.


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