Saturday, March 26, 2011

Spring redecorating

It's spring break. We stayed home. Well, Levi has been on 2 sleep overs and a couple outings, but our trip to Bend didn't take place. So, I've been working on some creative projects. I've been wanting to do something for above the doorway in our kitchen for a LONG time. I've even had the blank canvases for a LONG time. I finally took some time to use some of my flower photography, Photoshop and Mod Podge and these are the finished products.

It seemed like it would be a pretty easy process. Ha! I got home with my photocopies only to find out that they did NOT copy at 100% of the original size so I couldn't use all of them. I did the "Dream" panel first. It worked out pretty well, had some minor trouble with bubbles. Then I did the crocus. It was TERRIBLE and I finally peeled it off the canvas so I could start over. After another trip to make photocopies I was able to complete the project on the second evening. I have a little touch up to do on the black edges and then should spray them with matte acrylic.

Next up was a project for the bathroom. Another one that I've been meaning to do for quite some time now. For the past 8 years (wow, I just didn't realize it had been so long) I have had a collage of B&W photos of the boys in the tub. Cute when the kids are little, maybe not so cute when the kids are now 15 and 9. Maybe I can bring them out again when the boys are all grown up.

Anyway, I've been wanting to use some flower photography in there to brighten it up, but again found that trying to choose which photos of the thousands that I have was just more than I could handle. I finally tackled it! I LOVE IT. With Photoshop I was able to crop and also add some words. I even made a layout to help me plan it. Then I sent the files to Costco yesterday afternoon and picked them up this morning, using a coupon for free prints to "pay" for them. FREE, love it even more.

A little yellowed after years of hanging in the bathroom.
And the acrylic frame doesn't exactly photograph very well!

I am so excited about this bright new addition to our bathroom.

I have a couple more projects in the works, so check back.


Friday, March 18, 2011

Over, Under, Over, Under

Levi repeated, "Over, under, over, under," as he wove his paper together this morning. He worked deliberately to make sure that certain parts of the painting would show, sometimes turning a strip around or sliding it up to make sure that it revealed just the right part. I LOVE the results. I have to admit that I wasn't so sure about it yesterday when I saw the way the sheets of paper looked, but they dried nicely and the results are beautiful. The colors really POP!

I matted his finished work with black and white and then put it in a black frame. This piece just might get a spot on our dining room wall.

Check out yesterday's post about the beginning of this project and a link back to the idea source.

Looking forward to spring break which officially starts this afternoon. I plan to get his bed moved which will allow him more room around his studio. (See photo in this previous post.) Hopefully that will make it easier for him to work and create there.


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Color - Primary and Secondary

Today we studied color. We talked about primary and secondary colors and did a little mixing with watercolors to complete a color wheel.

Then Levi painted 2 sheets of watercolor paper, one with warm colors and one with cool colors. Tomorrow he will get to cut them into strips and weave them together. I got the idea for the color weaving project from Art Projects for Kids, click here to go right to the project.

As soon as he finished the painting he went off to do a little more origami.

More photos will come tomorrow after the project is completed.

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!


Wednesday, March 16, 2011


This afternoon Levi told me that he tried to smile all day so that the day would go well and so it would pass quickly because he was anxious to be able to try some more origami. Wow, I hope I can continue to find projects that he likes so much! He stayed home and did origami projects while I went to Cole's track meet. Smart kid, it was COLD and started pouring rain while I was standing out there.

Will be keeping a lookout for more fun origami patterns.


I can't stop!

I stayed up late listening to an audiobook and folding boxes out of the pages of a catalog. Then this morning while giving Levi his spelling test I made my 2 tiniest boxes yet. I just couldn't see wasting the scraps of paper left from cutting the larger squares from an 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper. I think the green box was from 3x3 pieces of paper.

The larger box will fit 7 quarters. I couldn't find enough dimes so tested it with pennies instead, 6 pennies filled it nicely.

Ok, I've got to get to something more important!


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Origami Fun

Late this afternoon it became obvious to me that I would not have time to do an involved art project with Levi as I needed to get dinner going. Something had been mentioned recently about origami so I decided to look for the box of papers Cole had when he was younger. After finding them and looking into it I realized why they really didn't get used. It was an origami animal kit with heavy printed papers and instructions that are not easy for a beginner. Not wanting to give up so easily I did a Google search for "origami for kids" and found many projects at this site,

We didn't have any regular origami paper so I just cut up some squares from regular paper and let him start figuring it out. His first project was a samurai hat. He did this one completely on his own. Then he wanted to do a ninja star. I helped him decipher those instructions and made one while he made his. He made a few more.

We branched out and looked up more and more patterns. We completed most of what we started but found a few too difficult to understand.

Please enjoy photos of our creations.

Levi's samurai hat

Our ninja stars

Levi's box with ninja stars

Our tote bags

Levi's inflatable goldfish

Levi's inflatable goldfish side view

Levi's frog made from a scrap of paper he took to his room at bedtime.
No pattern was used for this creature. Not bad!

My box and lid

During Levi's bedtime prayers he was thankful for the idea of origami and all the fun he had this evening. (He played with it from 4:30-8:30 with the exception of time out for dinner and helping do the dinner dishes) Then he told him it was so fun, even more fun than playing video games and he really likes to play video games! I know what he means. After I put him to bed and typed up most of this blog I just HAD to do some more origami so I made this little box with divider. The box measures approx. 2 x 2 inches, I wonder what I will find to put in these tiny little compartments.

Hope I can keep finding great projects for him.


Friday, March 11, 2011

Name Creature

This afternoon we combined some math with our art. I asked Levi what he knew about symmetry and found out he really didn't know what it is. (I remember that Cole impressed me with this word and concept at an early age after he learned it on OPB, watching Cyber Chase.)

I found this fun interactive video on symmetry and we watched it together. Then we moved on to our art project which I found here, at a blog called That Little Art Teacher. Levi worked at learning to make a fancy cursive "L" because the capital "L" in the italic cursive that he is learning really isn't as interesting.

Once he got the hang of it, he folded an 8x10 paper in half lengthwise and wrote his name so that it was resting on the fold. He then traced it with a black oil pastel and then refolded the paper and rubbed hard to transfer the name to the other side of the paper and then traced over that portion. Then the fun really began. He decorated up his creature, making sure to keeps things symmetrical. If he added to one side he had to add the same to the other side. If you look closely you can find Levi's name in this creature.

Levi's completed project.

Can you see my name in there? I took the easy way out and added
my background with Photoshop after scanning my creature.

I must say that his background looks a lot more interesting than mine.

Have an awesome weekend,


Monday, March 7, 2011

Books made with our homemade paper

Today we used our homemade paper from last week to make covers for little books. Levi's comment when we were done was, "It's like making the paper, it's so fun I don't want to stop." He completed 3 books. I made six, four to give to my friends at my book club, one for myself and one more to give away.

We used these directions for 5-stitch bookbinding from Zum Gali Gali Rubber Stamps. We first learned to make these little books a few years ago at the local Asian Festival. It was so fun that I came home and made lots more books. I made them for place cards for dinner on Chinese New Year, I gave them away, and I carried them in my purse to jot notes on.

Our paper measured about 5.5 x 8.5, so we used one sheet to make the front and back covers of our larger books. For the smaller books we cut (or tore) our paper into four sections and made 2 smaller books. The smaller books are perfect for keeping in a purse to jot notes to oneself. When Levi was smaller I kept one in my purse so that if he said something cute while we were out and about I could just record it in my booklet, knowing that if I didn't jot it down I would probably forget it or get it all jumbled up. It's fun to look back at the little notes I've written.

Levi's books

The red flecks in the orange paper are scraps of red napkins.
The dark purple flecks in the blue paper are also napkins, the yellow flecks are dried flower petals and the sparkles come from glitter added to the mix.

mini books for my friends at book club

The white stitching is done with dental floss, and the brown
stitching is done with linen thread.

mini book for me

These are lots of fun to make and not too hard if you read the entire instructions.


Saturday, March 5, 2011

First Friday Art Walk

Levi and I had a really enjoyable evening last night at the First Friday Art Walk.

We started at 5 PM with a light dinner and dessert at Perugino. (I used a Groupon to get a great deal, $15 in food and drinks for just $7.) After our delicious panini sandwich, baklava and brownie we headed over to the first stop on the Art Walk, Opus VII Gallery. Wow was it ever busy! We'll have to go back again so we can actually see and savor the artwork in their new exhibit by a local graphic designer, David Funk, and the artists who have worked for him over the past 30 years.

Next stop was the Jacobs Gallery at the Hult Center. The current exhibit is called "Surface and Silence" by Wesley Hurd and Rafael Perea de la Cabada. It was interesting but not particularly my style. I didn't quite "get" some of their abstract art. We met Wesley Hurd and he was a very nice guy.

Island by Wesley Hurd

by Rafael Perea de la Cabada

From there we went on to Karin Clarke Gallery to see work by LaVerne Krause (a deceased artist) from Oregon. Some of her work was very detailed and other pieces were more impressionistic. After following along on the tour we decided to break away and just go to the galleries on our own because they get pretty crowded during the tour stops.

a woodcut by LaVerne Krause - I loved the detail as well as the simplicity of the subject

painting by LaVerne Krause

Next up was the Oregon Arts Alliance. They had a fundraiser, the "2nd Annual 6x6 Benefit Show" going on at the time. There were probably 100 small works of art for sale at $30 each. Some were nice, others not so great. As we came to the end of the pieces to view I saw one that I really loved and it had not yet been claimed. I was so happy to be able to buy this beautiful tulip painting by Demetra Kalams.

We had to leave the piece hanging until 7:30 PM so we went on to our next venue and then came back to claim our painting. When we got back, the man-who-seemed-to-be-in-charge introduced me to the artist and then asked if he could get our picture together. Of course I asked him to take one on our camera as well.

We headed over to the New Zone Gallery and introduced ourselves to Tad's friend, Eagle Park Slim, who was there performing music. This is probably my least favorite gallery, it's not very classy and sometimes has some art that I find disgusting, but I do know a couple people who display their art there so it's nice to look at their work.

Slim - (sorry for the poor quality photo)

Forest Snow by Robin Marks-Fife
(Levi took a watercolor class from her
through HomeSource.)

We stopped by one other location, Olive Grand, but it was SO crowded for its small space that we could hardly view the art. I think we might stop by another time we are downtown so we can take in their exhibit, "The Magic of Ireland", photographs by Anne McRae. They also had live music, but the crowd was so noisy it was difficult to hear and enjoy the music.

Around 8 PM we were definitely ready to call it an evening. We had left the umbrella in the trunk of the car when we arrived downtown during a light rain. That light rain turned to a downpour and we ended up soaked before the evening was over. We both had a great time and think we will enjoy it even more on a nice warm, dry evening in the future.

Hope you have enjoyed a small sampling of the art.


Home Depot Kids' Workshop

The first Saturday of the month means one special thing to Levi, it's the Home Depot Kids' Workshop. We have gone nearly every month since May of 2009. He has assembled (built) some pretty neat projects over that time and has quite a collection of pins on his apron to show off what he has done. (Unfortunately, today he left his apron home as we rushed out the door to take Cole and some other athletes to track practice so his photo shows him in a borrowed apron.)

Today's project was to assemble (with glue and hammer) a model of Home Depot's #20 race car. The wood was pre-painted and the stickers were provided. This made it one of their simpler projects, but fun nonetheless.

Levi and his finished project.

Next month's project is a planter/basket, I'm sure we'll be there.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Bird Drawing

Today we worked on drawing. We started with some warm up exercises, practicing the basic elements of shape. We then read 3 fun books: ish, and the dot by Peter H. Reynolds, and Tico and the Golden Wings by Leo Lionni. I then read an excerpt about Leo from the book Artist to Artist. Using pictures from Tico as his inspiration, Levi drew his bird picture. We talked (I suppose I am the one who talked) about looking for those basic elements of shape and considering them as he drew.

The drawing was done with black fine point marker and then colored in with markers. We NEED to get more blue markers, but even if we had them I don't know if he would have finished coloring in the sky. It is HARD to draw with markers. Our instinct is to want a pencil so then we can fuss with erasing and getting everything perfect. The drawing book says to learn with pen so that you don't do all that fussing and you learn to think it through more before putting the pen to paper.

Our paper from yesterday is drying nicely. Right now it is under a dictionary and a Dutch oven with 4 pounds of weights inside so that it will dry flat. It has a tendency to really curve and not dry very nice at all if left alone.


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss and Paper Making

I've always loved Dr. Seuss and his magical books. Cole and Levi have also enjoyed his books over the years. I like to celebrate his birthday by serving green eggs and ham for breakfast. I think the boys get a kick out of it.

Today we read several of his books: Green Eggs and Ham, The Lorax, The Cat in the Hat, Hop on Pop and My Many Colored Days. I read Green Eggs and Ham as Levi ate his breakfast. Levi read the next two out loud before we went on to other work. As he did his vocabulary and spelling assignments I made some little candy eggs with green yolks.

Levi decorated his folder for this month's paperwork. I traced the Cat with black Sharpie marker and he did the rest. (I got the template here, at the Art Projects for Kids blog.) I love the way the hat turned out! He looked to a few of the books for his color inspiration. He noticed as he looked through the books that each one used only a few main colors. Being March, I gave him a little lesson on drawing shamrocks. It was harder for him than I had imagined.

I had planned to do a drawing project for today but changed my mind part way into our reading. After reading the Lorax we talked about the message of the book and I then pulled out some fliers we got at the Oregon Logging Conference this past weekend. While reading one about recycling, Levi commented that it would be fun to make paper and I decided right then to do that project today instead of drawing. Making paper was on my to-do list anyway.

We will actually be using this as a 2 or 3 part project. Today will be the paper making day. In a day or so, after the paper has sufficiently dried out, we will make a book using our piece of paper as the cover. I will fill the book with drawing paper so that he will have a nice little sketchbook to put in the car or his pack.

I happen to have a mold and deckle, pulp remnants and lots of tissue paper and napkins for paper making. I got it years ago after taking a class at a local rubber stamp store. It's been several years since I have done anything with it.

We put a few cups of warm water into our blender and added some of the pulp remnants (these are hard chunks of white paper pulp). Then we added scraps of colored napkins to color our mixture. After blending it for a few seconds we floated our mold and deckle on a large bowl of cool water and poured our pulp over the mold. After jiggling it around a little bit to be sure it covered evenly we removed the mold from the water. The deckle was then removed and a piece of fabric was pressed against the wet paper to wick out some of the moisture. Then we removed the paper from the mod and put it between 2 sheets of fabric, layered it on some towels and rolled it with a rolling pin to extract the excess moisture. The paper was then set aside to dry.

Levi making a piece of paper. "This is fun!"

Paper pieces drying on top of the mini trampoline.

You can google paper making to find more specific instructions if you need.

Don't forget to check back to see what we do with our paper.


Monday, February 28, 2011

Drawing with Children

Today we did drawing. I got my ideas from Drawing with Children by Mona Brookes, founder of the Monart method. I like her book, it's very encouraging, but I find it HARD to use as far as getting lessons from it. I found a site that has her program broken down into easier to read lesson plans, you can get them here.

We did several warm up exercises because it has been a long time since we just focused on drawing. We talked about the 5 basic elements and then did some pattern drawing. Then we practiced drawing these recognizable objects.

These are Levi's. The original is the lighter version, Levi's is darker. All is done in pen
so you can't erase. Helps you make better observations.

Then we did the guided drawing of a bird. I read from the book what he was to draw and he followed my directions to finish the bird. Then he added the tree and colored it all. It's a very basic bird style. It helps reinforce the basic elements: dot, circle, straight line, angle line and curved line.

Robin and bluebird in tree by Levi

Be on the lookout for more drawings to come.


Sunday, February 27, 2011

Levi's first watercolor painting

This was Levi's first ever watercolor painting, done at age 6.

I thought he might like to try watercolors so I just told him to think about something he would like to paint. I think that he chose birds because he was sitting at the dining room table and we get a lot of birds in the trees just outside.

I instructed him to draw lightly on the paper with a pencil so that he would know where to paint. If I remember correctly I also encouraged him to add leaves to his branches, but other than that he came up with the composition on his own. When it was time to paint, I gave him a few pointers about mixing colors and about wetting the paper first if he wanted the color to flow more in some areas.

As kids will do, he gave me quite an explanation of his picture when he was done. He was sure to point out that the father, brother and baby boy birds were the brightly colored birds and the mother and baby girl were the brown birds.

Thank goodness I had scanned his art right away as the original is quite faded now. I learned the hard way that watercolors fade quickly when they are in the bright light.

Levi was awarded a blue ribbon at our county fair in 2008 for this painting.


More adventures with Flat Brendan

Well, it's time for Flat Brendan to move on now. We had fun while he was here. It snowed Thursday and school was canceled for the day. Levi played outdoors for 3 hours. Cole slept in and then did indoor things. By noon the snow was pretty much melted so Levi did some work in a few of his subjects. Friday life was back to normal with Cole and school and Levi doing his home school work.

We took Brendan out again on Friday afternoon. We went to the UofO to see On the Rocks perform. It was fun to see them in person after having watched them compete on the Sing Off in December. Unfortunately, due to the crowd, we were not able to get a photo of Flat Brendan with the group.

On Saturday Levi and I took him to the Oregon Logging Conference. It was sort of interesting. It was fun to see the big equipment and to watch some talented artists carve with chainsaws. Wow, Flat Brendan is pretty small compared to the size of a truck tire!

Here is a pictorial recap of our visit with Flat Brendan.

Best wishes on the rest of your travels.


Friday, February 25, 2011

Hearts inspired by Jim Dine

After seeing many beautiful hearts inspired by the work of Jim Dine as I cruised the blogs last week I just KNEW I had to do some with Levi. I must say he wasn't thrilled about doing a heart but went along with the project and then enjoyed the process.

I cut a heart from a piece of file folder and then traced it onto the center of a 7.5 inch square of watercolor paper. Then we used crayons to layer our colors on for the hearts. We layered cool and warm colors. I just kept piling the layers on mine, trying to fill in most of the little divets in the paper. We used an old rag to buff the surface so that you couldn't see individual crayon strokes. Mine got pretty glossy because of all the layers of crayon.

Then we added the watercolor background. I used some rubber cement to mask areas of my background between colors. Levi chose to just layer up his colors. We created the idea of movement with our brushstrokes. Lastly, Levi added the black outline to bring definition back to his heart. I matted them onto black and then white to fit a 10x10 frame. (I thought I had bought 8x8 frames, but found out they were larger so added the white.)

I love the way they came out and will proudly display these in our home.

You can look at some of the sites that inspired me to do this project:


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Projects from last week

Ok, I know I'm kind of going about this backward but I am just going to put things from the past on as I have time and work to stay up to date with what we are currently doing. So, that means I will skip around a bit.

Our first project after I did my blog surfing was Compass Mandalas (click here for instructions) from the blog Teach Kids Art. We tied this in with a math lesson by:

  • Reviewing the formula for finding the circumference of a circle (if you don't know, you can google it)
  • Reviewing the definition of diameter and radius.
  • Proving the formula by using a 5 cm. circle cut from a piece of manila file folder and measuring the distance it traveled when we rolled it out on a piece of paper.
After completing the math portion we got on to the art. Levi chose to color it with crayons. As he colored, I did my own but filled it in with patterns. When he saw that I was using patterns he decided to use a pattern on the outer portion of his mandala.

(Levi's first of several mandalas.)

On his second mandala he experimented with markers, doing some solid color sections and others with patterns. (not shown on this blog)

(My mandala, traced with black Sharpie marker and colored in with Photoshop.)

We both really enjoyed this project and both of us have done others since then. I colored one in with watercolors and Levi demonstrated how to make the mandalas in his classroom at Classical Conversations this past Tuesday.


Our adventures with Flat Brendan

We got a visitor on Tuesday, February 22nd. Flat Brendan, from Blacksburg, Virginia, came to us by way McAllen, Texas where he was visiting with the Crossler family. We'll spend a couple days showing him around Eugene, Oregon and then send him on to someone else. After a whirlwind trip he is due back in Virginia no later than March 21st. I wish I could just squeeze into the envelope and travel along with him!

Today we braved the cold wind to visit the following locations:
Our first stop was the Sheldon Branch Library where we picked up a bunch of books we had on hold; many of them about art and music. We got a picture of Brendan with some books. (I thought it so appropriate that they had a book titled The New Friend right on the top shelf.)

We stopped by Autzen Stadium (home of the Oregon Duck football team, #3 in the nation after losing the BCS Bowl to Auburn University) just to get a picture out front. Then we headed across the street to The Science Factory. I'll bet you don't have a building painted like this in your neighborhood. It was shocking when they first painted it, but now I've grown to like it.

(You can click here to see a picture of the whole building.)

We headed downtown to hit an art gallery, the Opus VII. This was our fist visit since they reopened with their new name and concept. I was impressed! The lady working there was super nice and let us take photos of Flat Brendan and also told us about some of the neat programs they have.

(Levi & Flat Brendan in front of a work by Marcio Diaz)

By this time we were pretty hungry so we headed over to Burrito Amigos on Hilyard for some lunch. It was delicious!

We stopped by MacArthur Court to get a picture of Brendan in front of the U of O's former basketball stadium. Their teams played in that stadium for 80 years. Our family has been to several games there over the years.

While in that area we got some photos in front of Hayward Field, the home of the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Track and Field Trials.

From there we walked across the street to the William W. Knight Law Center to see a display of photographs by a Portland artist. While there, we introduced Flat Brendan to our friend, Mr. Seno, the Assistant Dean of Admissions.

We then walked about 4 blocks up Agate Street to Prince Puckler's Ice Cream parlor, where President Obama had mint chip ice cream while he was here in 2008 on a campaign visit. (You can see a picture here.) By now we were getting a little tired so we headed home by way of the new Matthew Knight Arena, home of the Oregon Duck basketball teams.

Flat Brendan is now resting and Levi is anxiously awaiting the snow which has been forecast for this afternoon/evening. You know, I think I'm a little tired too. I better go rest.