quilts, treadle sewing machines, crochet, watercolor, dogs, & other fun stuff

Lost My Quilt Momentum…

The weather’s been like a see-saw around here, lately—up and down.  It got warm enough that we needed the A/C for a while, then it cooled down and was dry enough that we opened the windows again (though with the privet blooming it wasn’t quite as nice)—and now it’s getting warmer and more humid again.  I know it’s only a matter of time before summer is truly here, so I want to get the most out of the pleasant(ish) weather while it’s here.  

I have no nature or garden photos to share, this time, but we’ve already seen several snakes, this year.  Donald saw a small water moccasin (cottonmouth) on the northern end of the easement and a brown water snake on our driveway, and I’ve seen both a black racer and a garter snake this spring.  

We’ve also been seeing and hearing lots of birds.  There’s a catbird that Donald hears outside his office window every so often… Then there are the usual cardinals, blackbirds, Carolina wrens, brown thrashers, doves, woodpeckers, and so on.  On more than one occasion, we’ve seen a pair of little birds gathering tufts of Eskie fur from near our backdoor—one would have a full beak of fluffy white fur while the other supervised.  You couldn’t ask for a softer nesting material than Eskie fur.  Those baby birds will be living in luxury!  

(Sidetrack: Did you know that some birds, not content with the fur dogs and other animals have already shed, will go directly to the source and pluck hairs off other animals?  I think the bird in this video might be the same species we saw at our house.)

Selvage Quilt Momentum LOST

It was coming together very quickly.  In fact, I think I only have two or three more seams to sew (and assorted pressing), but for some reason I stopped, and I just haven’t wanted to jump back in again!  

I’ll do it soon.  Maybe this weekend, if not sooner.  

Watercolor Doodles

After the quilt-piecing ground to a halt, I spent a few evenings doing watercolor doodles.  

Last time I mentioned negative painting—painting the background first, leaving the subject as plain paper, which you usually go back in and paint later. 

I’d started two cats, but only finished one.  The second is very similar to the first, but with different colors and style of background.  With the blue backing (and the circles, which remind me of bubbles), I think this cat may be wearing a swimming suit. 

I also doodled some stormy purple rainclouds…

…and lots of flowers…

Some of these include touches of a white chalk pencil, in addition to the usual watercolor and black ink.  Oh, and some include colored pencils or watercolor pencil, too. 

If you notice a difference in how some of these photos look, that’s because they’re not actually photos, but scannings.  Sometimes it’s a struggle to get a good photo, quickly and easily, using just my phone.  The paper is often a bit distorted and won’t lie flat, and I’m always fighting against weird shadows. 

Scanning forces things to flatten out and removes the issue of shadows, but it comes with its own set of challenges.  For instance, ours was washing things out a bit.  I’ve played with the settings, and I think I’ve come to a solution that’s good enough for me.  So maybe I’ll be scanning more from now on! 

The colors may not always be 100% true to life, but what with differences in how monitors display colors, that’s a lost cause, anyway—and I don’t want to spend hours editing photos and adjusting colors.  This will do!

"Little Animals" Prompt

One of the pages in the prompt book I’m occasionally using suggested filling a page with guinea pigs or other little animals.  I think I misunderstood and was thinking about hamsters when I did this, hence the hamster wheel.  

I think I had more fun with the rabbits than the hamsters/guinea pigs.  (I’m just noticing that the colors are off in this scan.  The original paint was brighter, the greens more yellow…

This next photo is a not-great photo I snapped with my phone… The colors are probably better/closer to reality, but in many ways it’s lacking, compared to the scan.  

Maybe I do need to put a bit more effort into the color correction, next time… 

(I took this photo before noticing that the one hamster looks like he’s administering corporal punishment to one of the ones that came printed in the book… So I added a flower in his paw before scanning.  And now I’ve gone and posted this one, anyway… Oops! There are few other little detail differences, as well, now that I look.)

Grungy Rainbow Bubble Thing

This one started with no real direction—just painting a rainbow on a page. 

I decided the fill in the whole page, so went back and added more paint in rainbow order.  

…Then added loose/messy black pen lines roughly following the places where colors began and ended…

It looked boring, and I had no idea what to do next, but something suggested tracing circles, so I did that, overlapping them.  

Next, I decided to paint over the background and any area not colored by a circle with black paint.  It’s not a uniform coverage, as you see, but I actually like that you can see some of the bright colors shining through.  It feels pleasantly “grungy” to me.  

Then came the ink details, followed by the grey tint where circles overlap.  

The result is a lot more appealing (to me) than I ever would have expected, looking at the messy, boring rainbow beginning. 

Many people say that everything they make goes through an ugly stage: There’s a point at which they look at what they’ve done and think it looks bad.  They may even think it will never work, and they might as well throw it out and start over—but if they stick with it, it gets better.  It happens so often, it’s predictable. 

This definitely rings true to me.  Even if I make a real mess, there’s usually some way to at least partially salvage it to make something I don’t hate.  

Mixed Media Collage

(à la Terry Runyan)

I finally got around to watching some of Terry Runyan’s YouTube videos.  (She’s the author Painting Happiness, the watercolor book I’ve mentioned here several times in the past.)  Her videos are very similar in style to her books, from what I’ve seen.  They’re great for anyone needing encouragement to try painting (or any type of art, really), especially if you’re lacking in confidence.  Her style is also just fun to watch unfold, I think.  

In one of her videos—click here to visit it—she makes a mixed media piece that starts with paper collage, then moves on to include paint, pen, ink, etc. 

It looked like fun, so I gave it a try.  Some of my birds are a little bit too close of a copy of hers, probably.  Not a problem when you’re just starting out and playing around, but branching out would be better, if/when I do this again.  And I think I will do it again, because it was so much fun! 

Here’s just the papers glued down… (I used paper I created on the gel plate, some old book pages, and some of my doodles with metallic paint on top.)

And here it is finished, with additional details in watercolor, watercolor pencil, white paint pen, and black ink pen.  You could also add washi tape, crayons, markers, glitter, stickers, or whatever else strikes your fancy.

Again, this was so much fun!  If you used to enjoy arts and crafts in school, this would be right up your alley.  It’s time to revisit those childhood pleasures.  Why leave all the fun stuff behind just because we’re older, now!?

More Collage & Mixed Media Fun!

After having fun with the bird collage, I watched another video about mixed media collage by the same artist.  In that one, she collaged a bunch of plant pots, drew in the plants, then added cats hiding behind, in, and around the plants and pots. 

If I remember correctly, she used primarily India ink and a dip pen, though I think she may have added watercolor at the end, too.  

In any case, I decided to try to use India ink and a dip pen, as well, since I have both and don’t use them as much as I could.  

I started out with scraps of the same papers that I used in the birds collage:

Then I got out the ink bottle and pen and started doodling.  

I can’t lie: I was almost immediately disappointed with my results. (Specifically, the plant in the big pot on the upper right side.)  I just felt like it looked like a mess.  So much worse than the artist’s version of a similar plant in her own piece.  

But I reminded myself that things always look ugly before they get better.  And besides, she’s a professional artist with decades of experience.  This is for fun, and an “ugly” plant doodle isn’t a problem.  Just keep going…

By the time I was finished with the doodles I thought they looked okay. They’re not perfect, but what ever is?  Once I’d pushed past the “not good enough” moment, I’d had fun, so—success!

I wasn’t sure whether or not to add color to my plants.  In the inspiration piece, the artist left them black and white, but mine felt like it needed more color, so I decided to go for a slightly messy-simple coloring in with watercolor pencils.  

I’m still learning my way around these watercolor pencils, so some things worked out better than others, but I’m satisfied.  And again, it was fun.  

I’m not done with this, yet.  I still want to go back and add more details.  I’m thinking some gardening implements and related items.  (Trowel? Pruners? Gloves?  Seed packets?)  I might add an animal or two, but I’m not sure… 

What I do know for certain is that this type of thing is worth returning to.  I love making things in this style!


I’m Michael (a female Michael, to remove any doubt).  I live on the Alabama Gulf Coast with my husband, Donald, and our crazy American Eskimo Dogs. 

I love to fill my spare time with various crafts and other hobbies, and this blog is where I share photos, record my progress, and ramble endlessly.

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