Scribbles and Bits

August 10, 2009 @ 6:58 pm | Filed under: ,

Has it really been a week since I posted? Just busy being busy, I guess. Lots of creative juices flowing here lately. Rose is hard at work on a novel inspired by Erin Hunter’s Warriors series. I haven’t been granted a peek at it yet, but her first effort, a twenty page tale filled with swash, buckle, and feline romance, was delightful. I’m eager to read this next installment.

Now that the baby is sitting and playing, and scooting around until he wears himself out and collapses for a two-hour nap, I’ve been able to grab some time for sewing again. I pulled a piecing marathon this weekend and completed three(!) blocks for my virtual quilting bee. Gosh I love piecing. Made two log cabin blocks on Saturday, my first sally at log cabin, and I am completely, utterly, head-over-heels in love with it. Log cabin is like the best parts of Legos, crayons, and yarn all in one.

Here is an excellent log cabin tutorial at Crazy Mom Quilts.

One of the best things about the quilting bee is finding a use for the little bundle of Japanese fabrics I got on sale last year. Like this one:

lionsquare Couldn’t you just die from the cute?

But as you can see, I’m still having trouble making my seams go where I want them to go. I am just not a straight-line kind of girl. Happily for me, wonky is in. (Making this the best time in history to take up quilting. Fabu deals on Japanese fabrics at a zillion Etsy shops, and crooked seams in vogue? I’m in!)

teacupAlthough I nicked the handle, this teacup makes me swoon.

Another thing we’ve been having great fun with is watercolor journaling, for which I must send Alice Cantrell a giant cyberkiss. A while back I blogged about our backyard art bag, which brainstorm transformed painting into a suddenly easy pursuit. A chief factor in its success was Jenn’s brilliant idea of cutting watercolor paper into postcard-sized pieces. GENIUS. Small paintings are less intimidating, are quickly finished, are easier to frame, mail, or store. Well, Alice Cantrell liked the art bag idea and carried it even farther, creating mini watercolor kits for her children. And then she shared a link to a Watercolor Journaling DVD, which I promptly ordered because I am completely in awe of Alice’s painting abilities and I not-so-secretly yearn to be able to create lovely pictures myself.

Well, we—my five oldest children and I, from the 3-year-old up—loved the DVD. It got us painting right away. Rilla insists upon my ‘making her a painty picture’ every day. Mind you, I still don’t know what I’m doing. Jane has taken a watercolor class and she is teaching me some techniques. Despite her instruction I have yet to manage a non-blotchy wash. But I’m learning. And the colors are so bright, so fresh, so cheerful, that I really don’t care how many mistakes I make.

journalpagesSay! If your blotchy wash is in blue, it looks like sky!

My kids have been watching old episodes of Magic School Bus on VHS. (That’s how old the episodes are.) And when I’m painting or sewing, I hear Ms. Frizzle shouting in her merry way: “Take chances! Make mistakes!” This is quite a comforting mantra to keep in mind when attempting to learn a new art or craft, I find.

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26 Reponses | Comments Feed
  1. Catherine says:

    I’m a novice watercolor-er (ist?) just now taking a class – for the wash we were told go horizontally across the page, then vertically. Lots of water (a la waldorf-esque wet-on-wet) is my other tip.

  2. Beth says:

    My computer desk is back to back (front to front??) with the children’s art table, which they use exclusively for painting with watercolors — every day. The finished paintings pile up until I do a de-pile/excavation once a month or so (once the piles are teetering). Other than that, it doesn’t get cleaned up: the water cups sit there, the paint trays (we use Van Gogh brand, in tubes) stay out, ready to be wetted again the next day, the brushes get buried under paintings … the cloth on the table is a length of white silk stitched with a pattern of cherry blossoms. Lovely. It was meant to be a wedding dress. Hrm.

    (So glad you posted, I always worry a bit when favorite bloggers-who-blog nearly daily go quiet).

    Oh! I read a book this weekend! It was lovely. So lovely I even wrote about it. *blink*

    Yay! on having writing time. Mine (book-ish things, I mean) stare at me. Balefully.

    ~ Beth

  3. Beth says:

    Oh, wait. That sounded weirdly histrionic, didn’t it? (The bit about the fabric). What I meant was, now it’s covered in splatters of watercolor paints, and that’s … okay. I mean, it’s quite pretty really… and I get to look at it everyday, not in a hurting way.

    OKay, I’ll stop now.

  4. Susan Taylor Brown says:

    Oh I am in awe of watercolor. I would be happy if I could do a milkweed like yours but I simply can’t. I want to do a nature journal but it simply eludes me.

  5. Swapna Raghu Sanand says:

    I don’t know anything about quilting but I really love the innocence of your designs. I think its wonderful to involve your children with the activity too.

    Keep writing.

  6. sarah says:

    I’m very impressed by those pictures.

  7. Jennifer Gregory Miller says:

    The quilting is so lovely! I love the material! And thanks for the redux on the watercolors! I still freeze up on paper choice–got to get over that one!

  8. Jennifer says:

    I’m not supposed to be on the computer this morning, but when you write about the awesomeness that is me, how can I help but comment? I bought a travel watercolor kit for Lucy for her birthday and I’ve been trying to get the courage up to see if I can ask her to borrow it. Your paintings are just so wonderful! I love the style. Thanks for linking to the DVD. It’s considerably more affordable than art classes!

  9. Penny in VT says:

    Just when I was feeling a little bored with my plans for fall – POUF, Lissa rides in to save the day with awesome backyard art ideas – hooray! (and I love Alice’s too, so thanks for the link)

    And on a completely different note – someone asked me if I had any living book ideas for the War of 1812 and I immediately thought of your Charlotte books. Great stuff. Truly a gift to homeschool humanity. And everyone else too, for that matter.

    My eldest has been writing up some swashbuckling feline comics herself (definitely not ready for a novel yet!), isn’t is to see your child write creatively? Makes my heart swell with pride.

    Thanks for sharing the joy!

  10. Margaret in Minnesota says:

    Those watercolors are scrumptious! You talented gal, you!

    Oh, and that little lion is such a honey. What a lucky recipient the future owner of that block will be. 😉

  11. Margaret in Minnesota says:

    Your watercolor photo is now my desktop background! A little inspiration for the days ahead.

  12. Meredith says:

    Ooh, can’t wait to get my hands on that teacup, SO cute!! Checking out Etsy now for Japanese fabrics, they are delicious 🙂

  13. Shonda says:

    Oooh, more of those little watercolor paintings, please! Really cute and doable!

  14. J says:

    Funny you should mention nature journals. I was just reading about this:

    (Emily Dickenson’s collection of pressed flowers, recently published in facsimile by Harvard.)

  15. Hannah says:

    Resource for finding the wonderful watercolors, please. Pretty please?

  16. Yvonne says:

    Your watercolor designs would make lovely tiles for a kitchen or bathroom wall–must be a way to reproduce them. I love the black outline. We have a super drawing book–name escapes me, something about drawing with children–and the author’s method uses black markers to draw with and no pencils or erasers. I used it with my younger daughters (and for myself)–the results are incredible.

    We use markers or colored pencils to color in our pictures. I never thought to use a similar technique with watercolors–yours look very professional. I think we’ll try it this afternoon. I’ve always been confused by watercolors. Thanks for showing me a new method. You’re always so super!

  17. Kay says:

    My kids have just finished an art swap of art trading cards they made and mailed to others on a list we became part of.

    Art cards are all 2.5 x 3.5 inches of original creation, just like your watercolors.

    Ideas from

    You can find beautiful art work created by young and old.

    We hope to start “trading/collecting” the cards.

  18. Kay says:

    Back with better info
    ATC trading cards Artist trading Cards
    Flickr has a site too

  19. Kristen Laurence says:

    Gorgeous! I’m refusing to look at the VQB flickr page until I catch up a bit. 🙁

  20. the inadvertent farmer says:

    Miss Frizzle is the bomb! I kept our VHS tapes from when my now college ages sons were so into them…my six year old thinks they are so much more cool than anything she knows…

    First time visitor and an hour later I’m still poking around, great blog. Kim

  21. Melissa Wiley says:

    Kristen, that’s EXACTLY what I was doing (avoiding the Flickr page) until last weekend. My advice is to skip ahead to the two log cabin blocks—those come together so quickly, and then suddenly you’re two months farther along and you don’t feel so far behind. 🙂

    Kim, welcome to Bonny Glen!

    Kay, thanks for those links. It’s such a neat idea, the art trading cards…

    Hannah, the watercolors I used are a small Winsor & Newton travel set I got from my secret Santa a couple of years ago. Little pan paints (which, incidentally, fly out of the case every time I open it). Jane has a bigger set, I forget what brand, that she had to buy for the painting class she took/is taking again in the fall. For everyone else, I’ve given up on fancy paints and switched back to cheap Crayola or Roseart sets. I was using the Winsor & Newton set for the milkweed & cosmos paintings above.

    Penny, thanks for the kind words and for recommending the Charlotte books!

    J: the Emily Dickinson journal link: TOO COOL! Thank you!

    Beth: not histrionic at all! I loved the description, and the idea…the wedding silk rainbow-spattered by the children’s creative overflow…lovely. And your book review was incredibly moving. I’ll have to add that one to my TBR. Thanks.

    Susan: I am not much of an artist, really. I am always a little embarrassed to post glimpses of my fledgling efforts, because Scott and I have so many friends who are professional illustrators, and I know how comically inept I must appear to them…but then I’ll remember how the point is just to get in there and TRY, and learn, and, as Penny said, to share the joy. 🙂

  22. AliceCantrell says:

    Oh, yeah! Your paintings are wonderful and I love the date stamp! Isn’t that DVD fun!? It had my 7 and 4 year olds running for their paints sets within 5 minutes. We also did an kid’s artist trading card swap this summer and will definitely be doing more…

    Goodness but you are making me want to quilt! 🙂

  23. regan says:

    the pictures in this post just made my saturday!!! thank you!

  24. Lenetta @ Nettacow says:

    I’ve been reading for a couple of years now but don’t comment much . . . love the glimpses you give us. I linked to this post in my weekly link roundup (post is under my name) in the hopes that I’ll remember it when my little one is big enough for such endeavors. (I’m thinking next year – she’s 2 now.) Thanks!!!