Creativity All The Time

My friends Maya and Amy are visiting this week, exploring the Smoky Mountains for their summer vacation. I love having fellow creatives in the house, especially ones who show up with art supplies and hula hoops!

One of the classes they teach as the creative company Food for the Soul Train is marbling.  Boo had a chance to try it out yesterday:


The results are just gorgeous:


There have also been trips to the GSM National Park, Fontana Lake and rowdy board game playing:


And a little collaborative painting:


Lots of layers being added:


I’ll share the finished product in a few days!


State of the Art: Painting on Maps


Michaels is celebrating their Big Brand Sale starting this Sunday and as part of that they asked me to make a project using my favorite art brand. I picked a brand that I’ve used for as long as I can remember and one that I’ve carried into the most wide variety of projects: Liquitex.

There are so many ways to use Liquitex products because they are intermixable and colors match across ranges allowing you to layer tube color, paint markers, spray paint and ink, or work wet onto wet with mediums.


The project I came up with was to create these cute little paintings using old maps, a fun way to recycle old maps you might find while cleaning out the car or your National Geographic magazines. You can stencil whatever you want on the canvas: a state outline, words, wedding dates:


On any scale:


Besides old maps and a canvas to start I used Liquitex Acrylic Gesso and Liquitex Matte Medium:

Using Liquitex for map paintings and collage

I used a few old maps, but the stamps were an old piece of scrapbook paper I had laying around:


Step 1: Cut a piece of map to the size of the canvas being used.


Step 2: Put a generous coat of Liquitex Matte Medium onto the canvas using a paint brush. The medium works like glue and because it’s archival quality won’t disintegrate and yellow over the years. It also creates a nice matte quality if you are gluing something with a glossy finish.


Step 3: Press the map onto the canvas and try to smooth out as many air bubbles as possible. A credit card is the perfect sized tool for this.

Using Liquitex to create collage

Step 4: I created a template for my design using Powerpoint but you can do this in Photoshop or just freehand your design. I placed chalk transfer paper underneath the template and outlined onto the canvas.

How to transfer an image to canvas

Step 5: This was another design for another canvas.


Step 6: Once I had my outline I used a brush to fill in outside the lines with the Gesso. Gesso is used as a primer but is great for white-out because of its opaque quality. Without Gesso you would probably have to paint multiple coats:


On the other canvas:

Using Liquitex Gesso

Didn’t they turn out cute?

DIY  Stenciled map painting

Save those tattered Road Atlas’s for quick little gift ideas:


You can also use the same technique using paper, magazines etc!



It was so fun helping Michaels celebrate their Big Brand Sale, which launches next week, and getting to create a project using product from a brand that I love!

Check out all of the Liquitex products in store or on – and great news! Liquitex is on sale for the next 2 weeks! Just check out the Big Brand Sale landing page for more details.


Click below for more fun art tutorials for gifts or home decor (or here for direct link):



How To Make Mini Locket Paintings


(Click here to see all the projects I’ve made for Michaels Craft Stores!)

This month’s Michaels Maker challenge was to make a Paris themed project.  Since I’ve been on a “small painting” kick I decided to use that as my theme using these great glass lockets available at Michaels:


First I printed off a Monet painting from Wikipedia. I used a cereal bowl to draw a circle around a portion of the painting:


I used the template inside my locket to draw a small circle onto watercolor paper:


If you’ve never painted, or think you struggle with perspective, try using a grid to recreate the image. Then use a pen to draw around blocks of color to focus on:


Use the same grid on your smaller circle and use a pencil to lightly transfer the same blocks of color:


For this Monet painting its easiest to focus on the water lily pads first. You’ll want to use the tiniest brush you can find for this!


You can also use color pencil or tiny detailed markers to get some of the other details in:


The large section of grasses in the center of the painting: [Read more…]

A Week of Paintings – Set 1

I’ve made it one week. I’ll see if I can make it another, but with spring break coming up I may have to skip a few days. Here are the past 7 days of 3-inch paintings. I never know what I’m going to paint until the moment I sit down at my desk. And sometimes it’s a book or a note or a journal entry that sets me on a certain path.  More fun that way.

Girl with a Pearl Earring.
(Based off of Vermeer’s same painting. Also a great book and movie)


In process: 

Painting 7a

A Dala Horse my grandfather gave me:

Painting 6

 Virginia Woolf:

Painting 5

The cover of a vintage Walter Foster book:

Painting 4

 My typewriter:

Painting 3

 John Steinbeck:

Painting 2

 Emily Dickinson:

Painting 1


A few of you have asked if I am going to sell them. I’m not sure yet.  It’s too soon. I’m going to hang onto them for right now until I can see where they head and the progression of my painting.  It’s been a long time since I actually sat down and spent time painting day after day. Definitely rusty.  If I do list any they’ll be on the Blue Label page where I list vintage finds.

Painting this week has reminded me of how my brain gets caught in a rut. I really have to forget everything I know about everything.  I can sum it up with what Annie Dillard said about painting in Tinker Creek:

 I once spent a full three minutes looking at a bullfrog that was so unexpectedly large I couldn’t see it even though a dozen enthusiastic campers were shouting directions. Finally I asked, “What color am I looking for?” and a fellow said, “Green.” When at last I picked out the frog, I saw what painters are up against: the thing wasn’t green at all, but the color of wet hickory bark.

True: frogs are not typically green.  But we are taught from a young age that “green” is associated with snakes and frogs, but many have grays, lavenders, yellows in their leathery skin. As I paint I remember that caucasian skin tone is not peach…there are shades of olive, yellow and lavender depending on the light.  And now I am retraining myself to see.  Like when I took that plein air class and finally realized that the mountains around me in the desert weren’t gray…they were peach and lavender and dusky blue:



Look closely at something today and see what new colors you see. Just staring at my hands while typing I notice that they are red, purple, green, and yellow.  So much for the “flesh tone” crayon.

Into Plein Air


I signed up for a plein-air painting class…it was an all-day workshop by a local artist named Diane McClary. I’ve always wanted to paint out “in the open air”….. I figured if I signed up for the class it would make me get out there because it was on the calendar.

Plein Air Painting Palm Desert

@lilblueboo on Instagram

There were six of us in the class. Most of the other students are regulars.  The workshop starts at 9am at the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument Visitors Center. First there is a demonstration by Diane, she does a value study in black and white first:

Diane McClary Painter Plein Air


Then she does a version in color:

Diane McClary Painter Plein Air


I think I should start an ongoing What I Wore series. I wonder if anyone would take it seriously:


What I Wore
Free red umbrella

99 cent sunglasses to match
Camouflage hat (brandless)
Apron left over from Boo’s beauty salon party
Red Converse
White t-shirt and jeans

Ashley Hackshaw / Lil Blue Boo


It was fascinating to watch Diane paint. I think I learned more from her in just a few hours than I think I ever learned in my studio art classes in college. She talked us through every step and how she chose her colors for mixing etc.

Plein Air Painting at the Santa Rosa Visitors Center


The color recipes were very helpful, like mixing black and yellow to get green? That is just not intuitive unless you see someone do it:


I love the plain air easel and palette.  It folds up and the paints will stay workable for a while. That makes things so much easier.  Diane has a guide to placing your paint (on the supply list) on her website here.

Plein Air Field Easel


Diane’s finished painting:

@lilblueboo on Instagram


We were positioned right at the trail head so we saw lots of hikers:


After lunch it was our turn to paint. Everyone else did a black and white version first.  I like to get straight to the good stuff…I skipped that part.  As Diane approached my painting I warned her that I was breaking the rules. She said it didn’t matter as long as I was having fun.



Here I am about halfway through: [Read more…]

Make A Wine Barrel Inspired Tray

DIY Wine Barrel Inspired Tray or Table via #wedding #gift #crafts #diy

I wanted to make something handmade and personal for my friends’ wedding recently and I decided on an oversized wine barrel inspired tray.  I used a precut wood table top from the hardward store. They actually come in several sizes. This was the medium size: [Read more…]

Christmas Nativity Peg Dolls and Download

DIY Christmas Nativity Peg Dolls with Download via #pegdolls #christmas #handmade #tutorial #printable #gift


Boo’s Box o’ Princesses and BOYville dolls were such a big hit last Christmas that I decided to commission my friend Stephanie Corfee to make a Christmas Nativity version!  I spent the last few days painting Baby Jesus, Jo-Fess (as Boo calls him), Mary and the rest of the Christmas peeps: [Read more…]