Friday, October 25, 2013

Lady October

Wow, Fall got here so fast this year I barely had time to really prepare for it.  Here in Germany, we have beautiful Falls.  I'm really enjoying all the colors this year, and the kids have taken to bringing me home the extra special leaves that they've discovered outside.  Unfortunately, they were really sad to discover that the leaves tend to dry up after a few days, so I've been scanning some of their best leaves so that they can keep them forever.  This in turn inspired my latest drawing for the month of October.

fall leaves

This month I'm trying two new things.  1. I tried out a new computer program to color my sketches.  2.  I'm trying to post a bit more about my sketching process which is actually a bit scary for me.

I'm very happy with this drawing.  I did have a hard time deciding between the colorings of the background, so I've included my two favorites in this posts so you can compare the differences.

lady october bg1

This drawing was done by hand, then scanned and colored on the computer.  I tried to do it with my new program "sketch book pro", but I still need more practice with it and went back to using photoshop.  I do have to say that I love the pencil feature on Sketch book pro.  It is almost like using a real pencil.

lady october bg2

Background two is a cooler tone than my first pick.  I like how subtle it is, and it is my second favorite of all the different backgrounds I tried out.

lady october prelim sketch

I wish that I could say that I'm one of those people who can just sketch out awesome images without even trying, but my preliminary ideas are often really rough.  I just want to get the idea out, and then I work on refining my ideas and doing another few drawings before I have a final image that is ready to color.  This sketch was done at an indoor play area while my kids were bouncing in the background.  I don't usually share my rough sketches, but I'm really proud of how much better I'm getting at drawing figures and objects without having to have a reference.

lady october clsup

I love coloring my sketches by hand with paint or pencils, but I'm also loving being able to color them on the computer because there is more freedom with trying out different ideas without having to redraw the whole image and start over if you're not happy with a color.  In this drawing, I tried several ideas for the the Lady's undershirt before I finally chose these stripes.  I knew that the stripes were right because they made me smile the moment I drew them.

gown clsup

I also toyed with a few ideas for the dress fabric pattern before I drew out the final design.  I love the little bugs and beasts that are hidden in the pattern.  The frog might be my favorite part of her gown.

Surprisingly, I didn't struggle with the color for the cat.  I always knew that she had a grey cat :)

This drawing was a real pleasure to work on because I was so very inspired by the season.  Where do you find your inspiration?  In the seasons, daily life, in your day dreams, or somewhere else? :)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Halloween Bunco Party 2013

Once a month, my girlfriends all get together and have a Bunco party at someone's home.  Bunco is a fun and easy dice game (go ahead, Google it, I know you want to :).  We play, we eat, we drink, and we talk. It's all very informal and fun.

This month, I had the pleasure of hosting Bunco at my home.  October is an important month to be the Bunco hostess because we always dress up and have a costume contest.  While normal hosting involves buying enough wine and making sure the pretty towels are hung in guest bathroom, Halloween Bunco involves a bit more thought and prep.  I really wanted to do some fun and spooky Halloween decorating without going overboard on cost and prep time. So, just for fun, I want to share some of my Halloween party decorating and Bunco ideas with everyone.

halloween Bunco Score Card image
Click on the image to download all six cards.
The first thing I made for the party was the Bunco score cards.  I drew out a spiderweb border, thought of some spooky sayings for the mini buncos, and played with some creepy fonts until I had a Halloween worthy Bunco score card.  I made six slightly different versions of this score card which you can download here for use at your own Halloween Bunco Party. Make sure to download the original for the best quality, and please feel free to leave me a comment if you use these for your Bunco gathering.

Before you read any further, I want to say that I didn't go all out and do a full haunt.  This is the easy, accessible version of a Halloween party.  I did some art, some funny accents, and some themed food just to get everyone in the mood.  Second, I was running behind during set-up so you're getting party aftermath pictures (sorry).


Anyone who knows me, knows that I love doing art for my parties.  When my daughter had her puppy birthday, we covered some of the art around the house with puppy themed designs.  So, this time, I made a series of three paintings to help get the room in the Halloween spirit.


The original idea was to take black poster board and make white chalkboard styled paintings.  Of course, that only works if the store has black poster board.


That's okay, because some of my best ideas come from having to think outside the box in search of a plan B. Plan B ended up being totally cooler than plan A anyways.  Any idea that starts with "pour half cup of wet paint onto canvas" has got to be good :)


As some of you may have guessed, these are finger paintings.  I didn't really plan anything in advance.  I didn't draw it out on the canvas or make practice sketches.  I knew that I wanted to do a skull, a witch, and a spider, and I had an idea of how I wanted them to look, but time was short and I just poured a handful of paynes grey onto the canvas, added a few handfuls of water, smeared it everywhere, and then used my fingers to wipe off the paint.  My kids, and my guests loved  the paintings so I was pleased.


I also made these day of the dead pens for my guests to use for keeping score and for favors that they could take home with them.


This project was also very paint reliant.  I painted plain mini skulls to be day of the dead sugar skulls, covered the pens in black ribbon, and then added some fake flowers around the head to cover the joined areas.


My last really crafty project for the party was making these black dripped glasses.  What's better than sangria served out of a cauldron with eye balls floating in your beverage; getting to drink the sangria out of a spooky black dripped plastic champagne flute.


My other decorative accents were pretty easy to do.  Sometimes simple is more effective.  People got a real kick out of my party crashing witch, and she was made using paper towel rolls, a pair of my socks and shoes, and plastic bags for stuffing.


The mini graveyard was easy and cheap, and it looked great surrounded by all the food.


Madam Leota was also easy and fun.  I just cut out a picture of her from a downloadable Halloween party invitation, put the picture in a glass globe, and put a flashing colored pumpkin light behind the cutout.  The effect was great for the price and she made a wonderful accent to the grape tray :)


And lastly, I had to put something funny in the bathroom.

I hope that some of these ideas or printables can help you haunt your house or party.  I have a few more Halloween and October themed crafts in the works that I I'll hopefully also post soon.

I'd also love to know what everyone else is doing for Halloween.  What's your favorite tradition?

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Extra Special Fabric in Guthrie OK

During my visit to the United States this summer I got to go to several really fun quilt shops.  I have come to believe that quilters enjoy shopping for fabric almost as much as they like sewing.  I know that I personally make it a point to go to at least one (if not more) quilt shops in the areas that we are visiting whenever possible.  I love getting to meet local quilters to swap stories, techniques, and ideas.


One of the amazing shops that I visited during our vacation was in Guthrie Oklahoma.  My husband and I were there overnight to belatedly celebrate our wedding anniversary.  We stayed at a little B&B, enjoyed some dinner theater down in OK city, and then visited Guthrie before we started back to go rescue the Grandparents from the babies.  

 Because my husband was in a generous anniversary mood, I got to go visit the Extra Special fabric shop around the corner from our B&B in historic down town Guthrie.  It's nestled along side of several antique stores, thrift shops, cafes, and home decor stores.


Extra Special Fabric was amazingly fun and really lives up to its name.  I love going to shops that really reflect the area and Extra Special Fabric specializes in western and southwest themed fabrics.  They had everything you could possibly think of related to western fabric ranging from allover bluebonnet florals, to bandanna prints, and lots of cowboy and western novelty prints too.


The ladies in the shop were great and made me feel like an old friend come for a visit and not an out of town tourist buying a few fat quarters.


Speaking of, here is one side of their fat quarter station.  I love fat quarters and bought several western and patriotic FQs for my stash.  I also visited the sale table right behind this, and am still kicking myself for not buying a few yards of the arrow fabric that was on sale for a future quilt back.


I loved that they had lots of samples up on the walls of their aprons and quilt kits.  You could buy a ready made apron or get the fabric and make one yourself.  I love shops that have items that non-sewers can purchase.  This way, when I take friends (or husbands) who don't ooh and aah over fabric bolts with me, they can feel involved and have a good time too.


Here's a lovely little Texas wall quilt sample.  Very patriotic and cute.


And, the most important chair in the whole shop.  The husband chair.  Side table, fan, and magazines.  Very smart ladies :) I'm sure many a husband has relaxed in this chair so his lovely wife can fabric shop.


This was one of the most exciting parts of the shop for me.  The SCRAP BIN! I love scraps, I hoard them, and I love finding shops that sell them at reasonable rates.  Let's just say the the halfway empty state of this basket is due to me buying around two one-gallon bags stuffed to near overload with scraps. 


I had a wonderful time talking and shopping at Extra Special Fabrics and can honestly say that if you are in the area, this shop is a must visit.  Thank you ladies for being kind and patient with all my photo taking and question.  See you next time :) 

Who else has found special fabric shops while on holiday?

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