The Doll Home

Eric’s mom gave me a dollhouse kit that she originally bought to put together for Eric’s sister when she was one.  I don’t blame her for never assembling it herself, because it was quite time-consuming.  After a few months of on and off work, the basics are done.  Now I can start decorating!  Noelle calls it a dollhouse most of the time, but sometimes she calls it a “doll home” which I find so funny for some reason.

Thankfully it passed its initial inspection.

IMG_8961And here it is now:

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The attic window was the only missing piece.  I made a little frame out of some small wood scraps that I had, and used clear plastic from a photo album cover for the window.  I used puffy paints to make it sort of stained glass-y.

IMG_9331IMG_9314IMG_9315IMG_9317IMG_9319IMG_9324Most of the floors are just the original kit floors (plywood) that I white washed and drew on with a sharpie to simulate floorboards.  The bathroom floor is the only inside floor that I painted over entirely.  I wanted it to look like marble tiles.

IMG_9330So that’s it for now.  I still have to make a bunch of furniture and accessories, buy some furniture, and finish the front.  I want to make window boxes, and the front door still needs a knob.  It has been a lot of fun so far!

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Ex Nihilo

It means “out of nothing.”  I love the process of starting with a few basic supplies (stretcher bars, a length of canvas, tubes of paint), and transforming them into a finished work of art.  I like to think that I’m making something out of nothing, but really I’m pushing materials around.

I can not comprehend how God created the world ex nihilo.  I can’t even imagine what nothing would look like…nothing, I guess!  No color, no light, no matter.  It really makes what I do seem pitiful.

Alright, enough musing.  Here is my latest painting completed.  If you are just jumping in now, I encourage you to read this post about how I came across this commission and what it’s about.  I think that the idea that my friend Becky gave me to paint is a beautiful, sad, and glorious one.

When I left off, this is what the painting looked like:

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And here is the finished product:

IMG_8326When I was struggling to get pregnant, I painted these two paintings because it gave me comfort to be able to see Eric and I as parents.  I hope that this painting has the same effect for Becky.  That it would give her and her mom comfort to see a depiction of their loved ones united in heaven.

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Great Expectations

Just wanted to poke my head in and say “hi” after a bajillion weeks of nothing.  I have some art to share.  When I had Noelle I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to get back into painting much.  I did, however pick up a new art student.  She comes once a week and my mother-in-law offered to watch Noelle for the whole afternoon even though our lessons start at 4:30.  So I have a free afternoon to paint now.

I picked up a new commission that is due at the end of the month.  A friend of mine and my mother’s gave me a very tough assignment, but when she told me I knew I couldn’t say no.   She has four biological boys but suffered  five miscarriages over the span of ten years…all believed to be girls.  When Becky’s father passed away in April, her mother said that Becky’s dad and daughters are all dancing in heaven now.  I was asked to paint them in black and white.

I was provided with images of Becky’s dad as a younger man, and pictures of her and her sisters as kids for reference.  I sketched the images on canvas, and then did my customary burnt sienna wash on the canvas.  Then it was onto acrylic paint and lastly oil paint.  I’m still working, but I’ll keep you updated.  Here is what I have so far:

IMG_8076 IMG_8173 IMG_8214 IMG_8228 IMG_8246I honestly feel like there’s no way I can do this commission any justice.  On my own, I definitely don’t have what it takes to create something that will be well done and meaningful at the level it needs to be.  However, I am praying that God works through me and that this painting will bring Becky and her mother comfort and peace.

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Hitchcock Pumpkin

If I paint a picture that is not a portrait, sometimes I feel like it doesn’t count.  I care about faces and the human figure, so when I chose the subject matter for this year’s pumpkin it had to be a portrait.  I wanted the subject matter to relate back to Halloween, but I wasn’t interested in zombies (enough about zombies already!), or monsters, or gore. I chose Alfred Hitchcock for his contribution to the horror genre.  He, like the most successful storytellers, chose to plant frightening ideas in people’s minds rather than spell it out in blood and guts.

The night before I carved the pumpkin, I sketched a picture of him using a photo for a reference.  I added some starlings too.

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Picking the pumpkin is one of my favorite parts.  Eric’s cousin, my sister, and I went to Markey’s Market and bought some pumpkins and apple cider.  We tried to photograph some pictures of Noelle with the pumpkins, but she wasn’t a fan of sitting on grass.  Even on a blanket.  Eric didn’t carve a pumpkin, but he did make a very valuable contribution.  He roasted the seeds, and they were delicious!

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I chose a huge pumpkin with a flat side to carve into.  I placed my sketch over the pumpkin, and used a pin tool to mark a few basic spots like the eyes, and outline of his face.  I’ve never done this before, and found it really helpful.

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As I was carving, I remember thinking that this is the most difficult pumpkin I’ve done yet.  I even toyed with the idea of giving up on it.  I think that one of the most difficult things about pumpkin carving is that once you take something away, you can’t put it back.  As a result, my pumpkin is a lot less Alfred-like than I wish it was.  But it did turn out better than I thought, and I am very happy with it.

Here it is in the light of day…

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Freaky, isn’t it?

But when it’s lit up, it looks completely different.

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Here are my past pumpkins from 2010, 2011, 2012, and a tutorial for carving a pumpkin.  So tell me about your pumpkin carving escapades!  Have you done one yet this year?  Do tell!

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Oh, The Irony

Hello, Pigments!  It’s been a while.  As you may know, I’ve been primarily blogging over at Better Here With You, but I decided to stop back in with an art related post.

Eric and I celebrated our sixth anniversary last month.  Eric is not a huge gift person.  He doesn’t really care about getting them or giving them, but I wanted to try to think of something that he would appreciate.  He has been so good at giving me anniversary gifts over the years even though it’s not his natural inclination.  Something that we did together this summer was watch the HBO John Adams miniseries (does anyone else like to pronounce “miniseries” like it’s one word?  Min-NIZ-urreez).  The series intro gets me all hyped up when I see it.  It features many of the flags that were prominent in the Revolutionary War.

Eric and I both love the Join or Die flag with the red and gold, so I decided to replicate it for him on a canvas.  And just for good measure, I decided to do the Gadsden flag as well.  Using a projector and a pencil, I traced the two images onto 18″x24″ canvases.  Then I took the two canvases outside and sprayed them with fixative so that I could apply a wash of burnt sienna over the pencil.  When I was bringing the canvases back inside, I tripped on one and snapped the wooden frame.  AND!!!!….

Guess which one it was!!!

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I TROD ON THE GADSDEN FLAG!! Oh, the irony is just too much.  My favorite part is the big footprint to the left of the snake.

Although I was really annoyed at myself for being so careless, I decided to forge ahead and focus on the other one.  I used acrylic paint, oil paint, and gold enamel spray paint to complete it.  I think that HBO might have added the red and gold to the original image.

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As far as I know, this image was not a flag, but a cartoon drawn by Benjamin Franklin during the French and Indian War.  There was an old superstition that a snake cut into pieces would come alive again if the pieces were joined together before sunset.  It was supposed to illustrate the importance of the colonies joining together with Britain to defeat the French and Native Americans.  During the Revolutionary War, it symbolized the importance of the colonies joining up against Britain to fight for their freedom as an independent nation.   Just as the meaning of the cartoon changed over the course of time, I believe it can still be a symbol that is relevant today.  I think it could symbolize the importance of states’ rights and the necessity of joining up against a federal government that is taking away our freedom more every day.  The federal government has been–and is repeatedly– ignoring the Constitution designed to keep us free from the tyranny of a runaway government.

So, the end result was a success.  Not because I was super creative (because let’s be honest, I copied the image), but because Eric loved it.  My goal was to create a piece that would inspire him, and somehow it does.

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Head On Over

I apologize for taking one of my longest blogging sabbaticals without warning you.  I haven’t written because I haven’t created anything since Noelle was born.  However, I haven’t shown you her nursery.

I really haven’t had much time to create, but if I do I will return to this blog.  This blog will always be about art, so I created a separate site for Noelle.  Until I create again, head on over and check out my new blog.  Noelle’s nursery is complete!

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Due Date Baby

“Third time’s the charm,” Eric whispered as we prepared to head to the hospital yet again.  I felt so discouraged and I prayed that I wouldn’t be sent home again. I had been having regular contractions for about twenty-four hours at this point.  It was clear that I was in labor, but I was not progressing.

Sunday, February 3rd I started having lower back pain for the first time in my pregnancy.  I hoped it would be the start of labor and I was right.  The next morning at around 10am I started timing my contractions using contractionmaster.com.  They were still far apart so I went into total nesting mode and straightened up the house and did laundry.  By five, the contractions were getting closer together, and I called Eric to come home from work.  I also called my mom, Eric’s mom, and our doula.  They all came over and we hung out.  It was actually a lot of fun having them there and it took my mind off of everything.

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When the contractions started feeling worse, our doula Kristina and Eric took turns rubbing my back.  Kristina helped me be as comfortable as possible even down to having my favorite chapstick and healthy snacks.  I was so glad to have  her there.  She and Eric go back to his freshman year of college when they met at school.  So although she was there as a professional, she was also there as a good friend.  Here we are in between contractions.  She wore an oxytocin (a labor-facilitating hormone) shirt which was perfect!

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Later that night (maybe around 6 or 7?) we headed to the hospital for the first time.  I was only a couple of centimeters dilated so I got hooked up to the monitors and checked again an hour later.  No progress.  So I got sent home and told to come back when contractions were worse.  So I waited at home and contractions got worse.  We went back to the hospital at around 3am and found that I had only progressed about a centimeter so I was hooked up to monitors for an hour and was allowed to take a walk after that.  But it still wasn’t enough so I got sent home again and told to come back when I couldn’t walk or talk through my contractions.  “But I CAN’T walk or talk through them!  grrrrrrr”  At around noon that day (the 5th of February, the baby’s due date) the contractions were quite strong so I headed to my doctor’s office to get checked and she gave me the most glorious words.  “You’re dilated to about a four so you can head to the hospital now.”  Eric was right.  The third time was the charm.

Labor up to this point had been painful and extremely frustrating because it seemed like the pain was for nothing.  Once I got to the hospital everything got better.  One of the first things I did was get an epidural.  I probably could have held off for longer, but I knew I wanted one anyway so I went ahead with it.  The anesthesiologist was awesome and gave me the Mona Lisa of epidurals.  The midwife came in and broke my water hoping that it would progress things.  It didn’t.  She said that my contractions weren’t effective enough and recommended getting pitocin.  I said OK knowing that it was the best choice, because I wasn’t progressing on my own.  It ended up being awesome because I already had my epidural and couldn’t feel the stronger contractions.  Finally things were moving!  I was told to try to sleep so I could have more energy for pushing. Although I hadn’t slept in 30 hours it was still hard to sleep.  I was too excited.

Eric, his mom, my mom, and Kristina all settled into the quiet room and waited.  It was such a peaceful time.  My support people dozed off, read books, played on their phones, and I tried to nap.  Eventually I started to feel building pressure.  The pressure got kind of painful and definitely intense.  It felt like I need to start pushing and I told the nurse.  She checked me, but I wasn’t dilated enough.  I was only an eight out of ten.  So I waited as the pressure built even more.  I had to start breathing through the contractions to keep from pushing.  This was the most difficult part.  When I finally was able to push things got so much better.  The baby was already so low that the nurse could see the head right away.  Another forty minutes later at 10:52pm our baby entered the world.  Eric got to announce the sex:  A GIRL!  He also cut her umbilical cord.  It was so amazing.  I didn’t cry when I first held her.  I just felt so much joy and couldn’t stop smiling.  She weighed in at 8 pounds 1.8oz and was 20 1/4 inches long.

first family photo

I had developed a fever during labor and it was passed to our baby girl.  She was taken to the NICU almost right away and Eric went with her.  I couldn’t hold her again for another two hours, but I’m so glad that Eric was able to be with her the whole time.

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Eric and I did not find out whether our baby was a boy or a girl until she was born.  We had a list of names picked out for a girl, but when we looked at her we didn’t connect any of the names with her, so we held off on naming her.  That night we went to sleep and Eric dreamed of three names for girls.  In the morning, he could only remember one.  Noelle.   She looked like a Noelle to us, and even though she was not born near Christmas we love that the name represents the birth of Jesus who is very important to us.  We gave her the middle name Elizabeth after Eric’s grandmother.  She is one of the kindest women I’ve ever met, and has been so supportive of Eric and I over the years we’ve known each other.  She also had ten kids and loves babies more than anyone  I know.  :)

I expected to love being a mom, but not this much.  Eric and I are absolutely loving being parents, and most importantly loving our little Noelle.

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