Valentine Cards 2015


My hands are stained pink tonight – magenta pink.  Why? Because of my love for hand-made Valentine’s and my daughter’s blossoming creative process.


it all started with her asking me, “Mommy, when is Valentine?”  I told her it was next weekend – 7 sleeps away and her reply was, “I need Valentine’s!”  I asked her what she wanted to have on her Valentine cards and she said, “A horse with rainbow mane and tail, clouds, and standing on a rainbow.”  Wow.  It is like I was looking at my childhood self.  I will be honest, I was kind of hoping to hear robot, frog, car, or robotic frogs in cars.  I wasn’t expecting this!  It was a few hours later I realized she was inspired by a card she received – I was slow to put the two and two together.

Anyway, I got to thinking.  I realized I had enough printmaking supplies to outfit her entire class in Valentine cards, and so decided to go with it.  I have made quite a few Valentine’s Day cards myself in the printmaking media.  Printmaking is one of the easier ways to make hand-made but mass-produced artworks, if you ask me.  All you need are linoleum blocks, a cutting tool, a brayer, and ink.  This Speedball Deluxe Block Printing Kit makes it so easy to get started on printmaking!


Here is the almost finished linoleum block.  I kept this block smaller, so from sketch to this point only took me about an hour.  The trick is to use a warm iron to soften the block – this makes for easier carving.

inkedThe next step is to make a test print, or an artist proof.  These AP prints are crucial for finding areas that were not cut in the desired way the first time around.


AP #1 shows a few areas to be improved upon.  Where is the eye?

Ap2Phew, looking better now (no pun intended).  After the AP, I always wash the linoleum block and pat it dry.  The leftover ink stains the block, making the correcting process that much easier. Oh, and it stains skin too, so be more mindful than I was during clean-up. However, this water-soluble ink cleans up easily in soap and water.


The finished (for now) print.  Greta and I will be collaborating even more on these prints tomorrow – I assumed she would add her own coloring to finish the rainbows.  I can’t wait to see how she makes these prints her own, and I am excited to show you my plans for the adult version.

DIY Color Shape Magnets


We recently made a trip to Eastern Iowa, as a family, and brought along these fun colorful magnets for car entertainment.  When not in transit, they reside on the refrigerator where they provide hours of fun during meal prep time.  The image above is a house, according to Greta.  She it recently created it from the various geometric shapes and door shapes we cut out for her to use.  Read on for the simple steps to make these.


The inspiration came from the Des Moines Art Center and their kids’ activity area.  They provide lunch boxes filled with colorful vinyl magnets for quiet, creative entertainment for kids while in the galleries.  Greta was so enthralled with them, we knew we had to create our own.


We ordered the vinyl magnets from Amazon.  They come in a 5 pack of 8.5 x 11″ sheets and then we cut them into various shapes using my paper cutter, scissors, and a hobby knife.


Eric got creative and pulled out a few cookie cutters to use as stencils.  He traced around them and then used a hobby knife to cut them out.  Her favorites are the dinosaur and ninja shapes.


Rather than the lunch box as a magnetic surface, we opted to use a cookie sheet for travel, that way she has room to create larger scenes and keep it on her lap.  The cookie sheet can also double as a lap desk for books and drawing.


Next up: creating sets of these for my classroom to use as free time activities.

Greta’s Butterfly Watercolor

Butterfly, watercolor on paper, 9×12″, 2014. 

This watercolor painting started off as a painting for another person having a baby.  Then, Greta discovered it and took it to her room so she could  hang it up.  She fell in love with it and said, “For my big girl room,” so many times that I caved and started another painting for the gift.  She is getting a big girl room soon, as we are moving her into the empty bedroom and turning her room into the nursery for her baby brother.  She is so excited for this change and this artwork just makes it all that more special for her.

 I started with taped off watercolor paper and a pencil sketch of a butterfly and flowers.

I used black India ink for all the black sections of the butterfly.  This way, I could use watercolor paint and watercolor pencils without fear of the black bleeding and smearing into the colors.

Lastly, I added color to the butterfly and flowers.  I used watercolor paints for the flowers and watercolor pencils for the wings of the butterfly.  My last step was to use gradations of a light blue-green for the background.

As always, prints and artwork are always for sale, please inquire by e-mail or through my Etsy shop, which is currently empty.  If you are interested in purchasing something you have seen on this blog, I will create a custom listing for you.  I also do custom commission pieces as well.  

Cherry Blossom Painting

I’ve been working my tail off trying to wrap up some art projects around here.  I made a promise to myself to allow more time to make art in 2014 – we shall see how that promise holds up.  Some of the projects are for myself, while many are for others.  I do believe that half the women I know are having babies in 2014!  
This painting is for a coworker who is having a girl any day now.  She is going with silver, gray, and pink in the nursery.  I stuck with a simple silver background, a stark black branch from ink, and bright pink cherry blossoms.  
Cherry Blossoms, acrylic paint and India ink on paper, 9×12″, 2014.

This close-up shows the silver off a little better.  I used India ink so that I could drop the ink on the paper and then blow the ink to create interesting organic lines for the branches, then I went back in and filled in with a brush.  

Prints and artwork are always for sale, please inquire by e-mail or through my Etsy shop, which is currently empty.  If you are interested in purchasing something you have seen on this blog, I will create a custom listing for you.  I also do custom commission pieces as well.  

Iowa Butter Cow Print

I recently finished another state themed block print – this time in homage to our current state of Iowa.  We don’t have a catch phrase like y’all to work with, so I went with something the state fair theme.  I know that plenty of states have state fairs, but I promise you, they have NOTHING on the Iowa State Fair.

This is the Artist’s Proof run.  I always make sure I do one of these when I think I am nearing completion of a print.  This way, I can catch any mistakes or make any last minute changes.  I noticed this time around that I did not cross my t’s on butter.  I also decided to cut away more of the background in the state of Iowa.  
Prints and artwork are always for sale, please inquire by e-mail or through my Etsy shop, which is currently empty.  If you are interested in purchasing something you have seen on this blog, I will create a custom listing for you.  

North Carolina Y’all

I have been busy making block prints this month – it all started with making return address labels via a block print.  This one came about due to a shirt I love to wear with the state outline and home on the inside – I got it back in Greensboro from a fun shop downtown.  Here is the link to the Etsy profile for these shirts.

Each print is done on a page from a dictionary.  Most of the pages have some sort of significance to the state of North Carolina – basketball, Tar Heel, sweet gum, etc.

NC Home Collage

North Carolina Home, collage & mixed media on paper, 9 x 12″, 2013.  
Do not reuse image without permission. 

Our Iowa home has something  new and interesting to grace its spacious gallery-like walls – a collage.  This collage makes use of old Greensboro maps, vellum, scraps of wall paint from the old house, and acrylic painting.  Since this was our first home, I made this for Eric – coincidentally one of the first artworks I’ve actually made for him.  Eric remarked on the house drawing, “Wow, I’ve never seen you use a ruler before to make art!”  Hey, there’s a first time for everything.  

Abraham & Lincoln Cat Collage

Abraham & Lincoln, collage & mixed media on paper, 2010.
I finished the commission cat piece, Abraham & Lincoln, aptly named after the two subjects.  It turned out just as I imagined it, which surprisingly is not always easy to accomplish.  I think this tabby turned out better then the previous Tsali in the Window work.  I put a lot of hours into this collage and while it will be sad to say goodbye to it, I am glad to be turning this hobby into a lucrative thing.  
If you want your pet turned into a collage, please feel free to contact me.