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Archive for March 2015

grow . For the Love of Daffodils

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It’s daffodil season, the sure sign of spring, and I cut these from the backyard last week for my desk. I was particularly excited to see these this year because a few of them came from plants my great grandmother grew!

Our farm house has a collection of daffodil bulbs that bloom each year along the fencerow. It’s behind the house and separates the “yard” from the front pasture, and my grandmother planted them sometime when my mom was a child. There are also a row of them that usually sprout up in a line out in the side pasture marking the place where an old fence once stood. And then, randomly with almost inexplicable origins, there are some that tend to crop up across the road, next to ditches, and various other odd places around the yard. I’m not convinced on whether my grandmother planted those, or if they arrived by pure magic! These daffodils are ones we look forward to seeing when we make what’s become the annual spring break trek to the farm in search of carefree days (and muddy play, like this year).

One of the places where we play at the farm is the “hay yard” just down the road from our farmhouse, and its actually a cleared plot where my great-grandmother’s house once stood. I can vaguely remember the house, although it was long abandoned by the time I probably saw it. The house was the last home of my grandfather’s parents, and my mom remembers walking there to visit her grandmother and get orange slices. I guess that’s why more daffodils were there.

For the last year or two, we’ve noticed a huge number of daffodil bulbs blooming in the pasture on the south side of the hay yard, and I like to imagine my grandmother and great-grandmother planting a few that then started multiplying over the years. I suppose they’ve been there for much longer that we can remember seeing them, but our more recent pasture adventures brought us into close contact.

I’ve long wanted to dig up a collection of those daffodils to bring home and enjoy another piece of the farm in our own little garden spaces. Last year when we visited for spring break, we took the opportunity. We loaded up a pick-up truck bed practically full of daffodil bulbs with their blooms still in place and brought them back to Starkville to plant. You can see a few bonus shots of baby Sally “helping” with the planting in the photo evidence below!

This year, Sally is much bigger, and the daffodils have sprouted! Most of them have only put out greenery this year, which is common since we transplanted them while the blooms were still on. However, a few, like the ones above, have graced us with their yellow springtime goodness. I’ll be excited to see their progress next year when they are more accustomed to their new digs!

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client work . Spring Poster Projects

Posters are some of my favorite types of design projects, and I’m so blessed to have the opportunity to do quite a few of them each year, especially for area community events. Over the last few months, I’ve been able to use watercolor illustration for several poster projects, so I thought I’d share a quick recap of some of the pieces. Plus I’ve included glimpses of the behind-the-scenes paintings used to create them.

For this annual spring event series for the Starkville Convention & Visitors Bureau, I painted backgrounding and an illustration to represent each of the four events. The Savor Our South series poster included all four illustrations, and I used the bowl to create the event poster for Souper Bowl. I got my marching orders last week for the King Cotton Crawfish Boil, which (I think) will use this crawfish and corn illustration. I’ll be sure to share that poster when it’s complete.

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I was so pleased to be asked to create the 20th anniversary poster for the Market Street Festival in Columbus, Mississippi this year! I decided to create illustrations of some of the iconic images from Downtown Columbus, where the festival is held. For this one, it was also fun to hand-letter most of the text for the event specifics and used a few Free SVG Files to make it more vivid!

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Many times when I do posters or even stationery designs, I create a lot of individual illustrated images and use Photoshop to put them together — just like the process I shared recently for my lettering practice. For this holiday poster I was asked to create last fall for Starkville, however, I wanted to do an illustration of Main Street, so I created more of a true painting using watercolor and some acrylic paints. Then, I hand-lettered the text to add on top of the painting. This poster is one of my favorites!

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make . Hop Along Theater Finger Puppets [printable]

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As promised yesterday, this morning I’m sharing a printable download for Easter finger puppets to go with our mini banners — the acting company in our “Hop Along” Theater! This made for a fun Sunday afternoon with Baby Girl coloring and making the puppets. When we finished, I was told, “I have some good ideas,” for the photos, so today’s post is very sweetly styled by Maggie! I think she did a wonderful job setting a spring scene, and it’s clear she already has that “creative director” tendency. What a joy to see her little ideas blossom! We’re having a pretty fun Easter season blogging together 🙂

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These are pretty easy to make! Just cut along the yellow lines for the base and cut around the figures at whatever level of detail you like. Once they are colored, you can wrap around a test finger and tape — Presto, theater company!

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make . Easter Mini Banners [printable]

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Baby Girl and I have been working on a few crafty projects for Easter, and today I’m sharing a printable for a cute little mini banner we made. It’s actually part one of an idea I had as I was thinking through spring post ideas. I’ve always loved making things with paper, especially things to play with! The children love to make little paper cut-out puppets using popsicle sticks to create dramas for their puppet shows. So, my thought was to create a little “Hop Along” theater marquee to use along with some Easter-themed finger puppets. I’ll share the finger puppets tomorrow as a printable too, but for now, I’ve included some photos and tips to make the banner below. It can really be hung in any way, but I used some pencils to make our “theater” columns. In the printable download (shown below), I’ve included banner flags for “Hop Along” as well as “He Is Risen,” which would make a neat reminder of the reason for our Easter celebrations on your tabletop of mantle. Enjoy! And stay tuned tomorrow for photos and download for the finger puppets — styling by the one and only, Baby Girl!

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Tips for making the mini banner:

  1. We printed ours on card stock weight paper so it has a little weight and doesn’t wrinkle when glued.
  2. You can hold a metal ruler or straight edge in place in the white gap at the middle of each diamond, and fold against it to crease the row of flags evenly.
  3. Fold each row first, and then cut out each flag. That way, you don’t have to worry about matching up the angles — and the flags don’t have to be exact. [This also gives you kind of a neat diamond harlequin stencil — bonus!]
  4. Keep your glue away from the crease in each diamond when you’re adding them to the string. That way, you’ll be able to slide the flags along the string when you’re finished to adjust the spacing of the words. You may want to go ahead and slide the flags a minute or so after you glue to be sure no glue dries on the string.
  5. We used short sequin pins with balls to top our banner pencil “poles”. They stick securely into the eraser, but leave enough space to wrap your strings to hold up the banner. They’re also kind of festive!
  6. We put our pencil poles in tiny clay pots with straw to scotch, but small potted plants would be cute or even cupcakes for a party table!

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morning letters . thursday 032615

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I’ve been working on some illustration projects this week, and this is my first chance for practice work! Not sure why this lyric came to mind, except I’ve been working with my Baby Girl on some paper craft projects this week too. If there was ever a girl who saw the world through a kaleidoscope, it’s my Baby Girl!

make . Teacher Treat Topper [printable]

Well, we procrastinated, and now Teacher Appreciation Week in the Starkville School District is almost over! My kiddos have six wonderful teachers this year who have given them love and patience and interesting activities and great learning opportunities and so much more. Each year, I’m so grateful for the positive environment my children experience each day in their classrooms. I just don’t say it enough.

Tonight was our first night with no activities this week, and I had the fixings for some teacher happies for the children to take tomorrow. We just needed a fun way to package them up. I found a “thank you” watercolor sketch I painted back in December and decided to use it for a quick topper for some treat bags to hold our goodies. Baby Girl (my continual partner in creative crime) helped put everything together, and now we’re set! If you’re in need of some quick Teacher packaging, feel free to download ours! Just print, cut, fold in half and attach to the top of your bag.

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morning letters . friday 032015

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Happy Vernal Equinox!Just a little reminder to be who you are and add to the loveliness!

go . Cafe Keough

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Today I’m sharing one final post from our Valentine’s weekend trip to Memphis. I mentioned before that we were snowed in for a couple of extra days, which was actually tons of fun (and maybe a little nerve wracking for the Mommy). On Monday morning when we ventured out, our favorite pancake spot for breakfast, the Blue Plate Cafe, was closed for a snow day. That gave us the excuse to wander down Main Street a bit in the snow and ice in search of an alternative. We stopped into Cafe Keough, a corner coffee shop we had seen in our previous walks. It’s a wonderful old space with high ceilings, big windows and a great mix of history, industrial feel and urban vibe.

Part of the appeal was that the manager was shoveling off the iced sidewalk in front of the cafe when we walked up (bonus!). But, the pastry counter kind of sealed the deal. The kids enjoyed waffles with a side of oatmeal cookies, because that’s what you do on a snow day in Memphis, I guess. And, I couldn’t resist the chocolate croissants. We settled into a couple of the small cafe tables by the front windows and enjoyed our munchies with a great view of snow-covered downtown — a view I’m sure we won’t soon forget. Thanks for sharing the trip with us, and I can’t wait to try out some of the sandwiches at Cafe Keough the next time we are in town!

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make . Easter Egg Holders [printable]

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I’ve been getting into cute bunny mode this week since the kids helped me get down the box of our Easter decorations this weekend. I decided to use a couple of the bunnies from this year’s Easter gift tags (plus a few new watercolor illustrations) to create these printable egg holders. Baby Girl and I had a fun time making the samples! Just click the image below to download the printable. Print the designs onto cardstock, and cut along the dotted lines and around the illustrations. Then, cut the slits shown and thread together to create rings. These would probably be cute napkin rings for a little tea party as well! Enjoy!

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morning letters . wednesday 031815

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Wise words this morning during practice.

Sometimes I get questions from folks about my art and design process. It varies for me, usually depending on the project, but it very often involves hand-crafted work, my scanner, and photoshop. I use the Morning Letters series truly as practice in lettering where I hone my craft in painting various typefaces I’ve seen or my own lettering style that seems to be rising to the surface among everything I’m doing. BUT, I always want to put pieces out on the blog and in social media that represent me and my work well. Sometimes meshing those two goals needs a little more help from the scanner… like today’s practice piece:

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That’s the original behind-the-scenes page where you’ll see that I mis-spelled “around” and generally missed the mark on that line of script lettering. Although perfection isn’t really my goal, I’ve learned that practice DOES at least help create a look I like better. So, my “tech” (as my kids’ Iron Man tv shows usually call it) helps me replace the goofs with the second effort I’m happier with! It’s all part of the process. In the words of my 8-year-old Bug, “if you make a mistake, just X it out and write it again.” More wise words.

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