Tag Archives: painting

Toddler Art : To Make Art, One Must BE Art

Now that the pee puddles are finally starting to dissipate around here, we are finding ourselves surrounded by rain puddles. Sir is already getting antsy and, with Hurricane Irene headed our way, we have at least 3 more days of this ahead of us.

So, once again, we turned to the art supplies to keep us entertained.

I set Sir up with his fancy-schmancy paper plate palette loaded up with several colors of paint (which would quickly turn to goopy gray once he started stirring things up with his brushes), and we were off to the races.

He was very vocal about his painting today, so I decided to try to get a little video interview going. I managed to get a few good clips, but then he stopped cooperating and I was just distracting him. So, I decided to just sit back and let him work until I was beckoned to roll out new paper or refill his color supply.

As I glanced down at my phone to read an email, I heard a little voice say, ‘I paint my knee.’ I looked up to find Sir with a lovely paint splotch on his left knee, which he then insisted on wiping off with a paper towel. He went back to work on his easel for a moment and then…’I paint my knee.’ This time, he covered his entire knee with a big circle of paint.

Now, usually my raging OCD would kick-in at this point, but for some reason I decided that instead of freaking out and grabbing the nearest wet washcloth, I would just to let him go with it. And go he did.

He proceeded to paint his fingers. Then he put a large stripe up each arm. He painted his nose, his toes, up and down his legs. Then he sat down and started to work on his pièce de résistance.

He loaded up his brush, contorted himself in that way that only toddlers can (how in the world can they be so flexible?) and proceeded to paint the bottom of his foot. It was quite a process and sight to behold. He was determined to cover the whole thing, and he probably would have if it hadn’t been for that pesky detail of having to stand up to get more paint. Every time he stood up, the paint would come off on the rug (and I did NOT freak out! Can you believe it?). So, then he would sit down and start all over again.

When lunch time rolled around, I had to literally tear him away from his paints (and give him a good scrubbing in the tub). The whole thing left him feeling pretty satisfied with himself as he recounted the story at the lunch table, naming each body part that had previously been covered in paint.

Here are a few photos I managed to shoot during the event (which I’m sure will repeat itself at least one more time this rainy weekend).


working on a toe

reloading his brush

taking a moment to work on his actual painting

touching up his arm

arranging his brushes after finishing work

photos : sir’s palette & the great body painting escapade by yours truly

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What I Like Wednesday : Patti Backer (a.k.a. PatriciaMonkey)

Hmm, it seems I’ve missed a couple weeks of What I Like Wednesday. Oops. No matter, today’s artist is extra awesome, so that should more than make up for my lack of blogging diligence. Heh.

Whimsical. Weird. Wonderful. This is the best way that I can describe Maryland artist Patti Backer’s work. Also known as PatriciaMonkey, she describes her pieces as  ‘a combination of lowbrow and folk art.’

It was her paintings on wood (specifically the big-eyed black birds) that first caught my eye, but her slightly creepy brand of silliness doesn’t stop there. She also has a penchant and talent for reclaiming vintage furniture and turning it into must-have items for the eclectic home.

You can find more of Patti’s work on her blog and on Etsy where she not only sells her quirky artwork, but also offers a treasure trove of vintage goodness.

And now for some of my PatriciaMonkey favorites…





photos : by Patti Backer

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Process, I Guess

A couple of weeks ago, I mixed up some gouache to work on this piece. As is often the case, I ended up with WAY more paint than I needed. So, I just started messing around with what I had left – making little paint blobs on a sheet of watercolor paper.

Then, I accidentally bumped the paper and the blobs began to bleed down the page. I flipped the paper in the other direction and watched the paint flow back into the blobs. And there it sat – drying into darkened splotches.

When the paint finally dried, I had no idea what to do. So, I tossed the red-stained paper aside and focused on other things.

This weekend, I had some very rare alone time (more on that later, perhaps). I spent some of that time going through finished and unfinished pieces and trying to get them organized. I set the red paint page aside to work on later.

When later came, I still had no idea what to do. Where the paint had broken loose and flowed down the page sort of looked like flower stems and so, I decided to go with that. A little red ink (a little red wine) and a slightly unsteady hand later…voila!

I rarely work with the color red. I can’t say why, exactly, it’s just not one of my favorite colors to look at or work with. I decided to force myself to do something with reds just to see what would happen. I guess it turned out okay.

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Preschool Art: Sir Begins a New Series

blue 9 by sir

Today was a special day in our house. Sir brought his very first art work home from school. It wasn’t the first painting he did at school, the others are hanging up in his classroom, but it is the first thing he has made at school and brought home for us to display. I can’t remember if I mentioned this before, but the breakfast nook in our house is his personal gallery where all of his work hangs – from the very first project he ever made (at the tender age of about 6 months) to the piece above. Extra special pieces are framed (as this one will be soon).

I asked him to tell me about his painting and he told me that the large blue area is the number nine (‘Boo nine!). He then pointed to the other areas and said very matter-of-factly, ‘Een! Red!’ – ‘een’ being his word for green, of course.

I think we can all agree that it’s better than anything I’ve ever done.

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Have you ever been so far behind that you’re pretty sure you’ll never catch up? Yeah, that’s me right now.

Several events from last week have kind of knocked me for a loop and I’m still struggling to catch up on things that have been neglected. I absolutely hate falling behind and my creativity is suffering. Even so, I’ve managed to finish two paintings this week.

The Esty shop is in desperate need of updating. A sale or two would be a nice way to motivate me to take care of that.

I’m feeling a little uninspired on the 365 project too. I think my life is just too freaking boring to warrant being photographed daily. Heh.

Sadly, I think this is all I have to say. If anyone wants to send some inspiration my way, it would be greatly appreciated.

photo : sunset by yours truly

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The Fine Art of Scanning

...is a little spottyLast night I finished the first piece in my current watercolor series. I am working on the second piece now. The pieces in this series are small (approximately 4.5″ square). They are also a little rough as the watercolor pencils and I are still establishing our working relationship. Heh. This is definitely a test of my perfectionist tendencies, but so far I seem to be handling it well. This first piece (partial photo at right) is a little spotty, in more ways than one.

I figured that since I managed to finish this piece, which I probably won’t sell, I would try my hand at scanning it for printing purposes. I did a little research and discovered that professional scanning services can be pretty pricey – definitely more than I’m willing to spend on a ‘practice’ series such as this. So, I contacted one of my web design clients who is a professional artist to see if she could offer any advice. Surprisingly, she told me she does all of her own scanning in her studio with her own scanner. Interesting.

I have a pretty good scanner. I’m pretty well-versed in tech junk. And I have (reasonably) mad Photoshop skillz. I can do this, right?


Friends, believe me when I tell you, scanning is not so easy…not for a lifelong perfectionist (in recovery) like yours truly. Now, I can hear you all saying, ‘C’mon, Ruth, how hard can it be? You just throw the piece in there, make sure it’s straight, click the scan button, and voila!’ And to you I say, I shared your cockiness for about 35 seconds until I saw the life sucked out of my piece right before my eyes. It was like a pretty girl after a run-in with a vampire, one minute it was all bright and vibrant and the next – totally pasty and unappealing (Ya like that analogy, Twihards? Heh.).

The first scan was so bad that no amount of tweaking in Photoshop could bring it back from the dead. Several setting changes later, I managed to create something that I could work with. The next part of the process went something like this: run upstairs, open file, adjust, look back and forth between screen and original piece half a dozen times, tweak, send to printer, run downstairs, grab test print, sigh with disappointment, run back upstairs, start process all over again. After a few times through, I managed to come with something fairly reasonable, but it is obvious that for awhile it is going to take me almost as long to scan these pieces as it does to paint them. Eh, at least I’ll get some much-needed exercise.

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water + color = love

water + color

I’ve had a slight obsession with watercolors from the moment I received my first paint with water book as a kid. Do they still make those? They would be perfect for *Sir.

Sadly, my painting skills never progressed very far beyond the paint with water books. For as much as  I have tried, paintbrushes have just never made sense in my hands. I find myself feeling very clumsy and fumbling around whenever I try to do anything more detailed than say, painting a wall. Heh.

I used to play around with watercolor paints years ago because I love the way they work, the way they look, everything about them. I could never get over being paintbrush-deficient though. So, I tossed them aside.

I just started work on a mixed media collage and the only way I can do it properly is with watercolors. So, I set out to buy a new set since my old ones dried up and disappeared long ago. And that’s when I discovered them…watercolor pencils!

Honestly, I have no idea why I never thought to try watercolor pencils before. They make perfect sense – the same effect with very little brush work.

I found some time to play around with them today and they are great! In addition to the collage, I hope to begin work on a series of small watercolor pieces this week – time permitting.

* my budding artist toddler son

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