Sunday, November 30, 2014


So this is a quick painting done from a vase of flowers from the grocery. Done within an hour. I want to bring this exercise back into my work.

It is so easy to get in deep with a painting. Work on in FoReVeR, but it doesn't always mean a better painting. I've found that working quickly, when I've got my head right, I actually do better following instincts and not thinking too hard about how to make a good painting.

And know when to stop! That's hard.

I tend to feel that I can make every painting great, but that's not realistic. Not every painting is going to work and that's okay. If you work fast it also allows you to keep your attachment to it low. If it's good then your excited, if not, oh well move to the next piece.

I am happy with the color and composition if the piece. I didn't think enough about the background until too late. So I decided to just go with the bright white.
That gave me the idea to prepare a couple canvases in advance with dark backgrounds. I don't know what I'll use those for yet, but you can start with a blue or black canvas as easy as a white one.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving

I'll admit, this year I had a hard time getting geared up to decorate for the holidays. However after a couple good cold days in a row I was getting closer. Then the though of decorating a table for Thanksgiving was the push over the edge I needed. I love setting a table! 

Honestly I feel stupid for posting about this. I mean it's kind of like I'm caving in to blogging peer pressure. Everyone else is posting about holiday decor.....But it is what I'm doing right now. I won't be making art or photographing new pieces this weekend, because I'll be spending time with family and friends. 
That I'm very excited about!

Photos from:

Monday, November 24, 2014

Refinishing an Old Dresser: Part 1

Don't get me wrong I like painted furniture. I make a living selling it and I have several pieces in my house. But what I've found is those DIY painted pieces, in my case, have ended up looking a little tired after only a few years of light use. So when I was the recipient of two dressers that needed some love to bring them up to date I knew right away I would not be painting them.

This is not a quick fix and it is not for everybody. It is pain staking and it will not be done in an afternoon. I'm not sure it was for me either, but once I start something I don't want to change course. That's the nice way of saying I'm stubborn. That being said. This will be a 3 part post. I will need time to get all of these steps completed!

Here she is. This is what I'm working with, and there is a tall chest that matches it. Good solid furniture, but not very cute. 

I started by removing all the hardware, taking the drawers out and getting all my tools together. 
  • Klean Strip (this stuff is really toxic so wear long sleeves, long pants and have a washing station near by)
  • heavy duty latex kitchen gloves
  • Plastic scraper (this doesn't leave marks in the wood like the metal one would)
  • old kitchen brush (to get into those deep groves that the scraper cannot reach)
  • galvanized metal bucket and brush
  • plastic drop cloth 
  • roll of paper towels

This part is nasty, but also kinda fun. Make sure you are in a well ventilated area and I might suggest that if you live a warm climate don't start this project in the heat of the summer. I did the tall chest already, but I did it back in July and I was miserable and it took forever. I had to keep going inside to take a break from the heat. For the dresser I decided to wait until the fall. 
This goes so much faster if you work in sections painting stripper on several pieces then moving back to scrap the first ones while the others sit. Much harder to do if you are trying to avoid heat stroke.

Put down you drop cloth and place your furniture over it to catch those nasty leftovers. You will want to just roll up the drop cloth and throw it away afterward so I used a cheap plastic one.

Paint on the stripper and leave it on 15 minutes before scraping. I actually started with the drawers because they were the most difficult. I prefer to work from the hardest to easiest. Then I'm always moving toward a less difficult task.

Make sure to leave the product on long enough. You will see the finish start to bubble up off of the wood. I did have to add a second coat before scrapping on several occasions. Use heavy even pressure as you scrap towards you for the the best control. Use the plastic scraper on all flat surfaces and even along edges where you can. Go back over groves with the brush and use just as much pressure to really clean out the finish from those deep groves. 

But you can only do so much by just scraping off the finish. To get down to really clean wood you must sand!

Sanding Supplies
  • Sanding block (because I don't have an electric one, that would have saved some time)
  • 150 grit sand paper
  • box cutter (to cut strips of paper for the block)
  • wire brush (to clean off sand paper)
  • lots of elbow grease
Once again I started with the drawers. Be careful as you sand the edges and grooves not to round off square edges or you may loose some character of your piece. Also be prepared to go back to each drawer and make sure the every piece is sanded down to the same level.
You will notice the color of the piece lighten as you sand and remove even more of the finish. That's what I mean by sanding to the same level.

You can see the difference the sanding makes. Above the drawer to the left is stripped, but not sanded and the drawer to the right is fully stripped and sanded.

It's a wonderful thing when you finally get it all sanded. It looks so good already! The back breaking part is done.

The main disappointment was the top of the dresser. I read up about removing veneer from old furniture, but what I did not anticipate was the partial board underneath it.

Talk about sad! There is nothing you can do to make that better.

So that's when I got the idea to just remove the entire top and replace it with stone like you would for a bath vanity. I think a white and grey marble top will look great on this piece. I figure it will also make this piece useful in a dining or serving area at some point the down the road.

Now for the fun part of staining and sealing. Bringing it back to life! Look for that in a later post. For now I will sit back and enjoy the completion of these first few steps with a cocktail!

Thursday, November 20, 2014


I started this blog as a way for me to be accountable to this project and my process. If I have to write about it I have to be working on it. Right?

Well what I've found is that this blog itself can become a distraction. I can spend hours surfing other blogs and getting great inspiration, but that does not count as making art. I love the blogs I've been following and you can see what I've been reading over at Bloglovin. I don't care what anyone says, RSS is not dead. I love having one place to read just blogs nothing else.  Anyway, see there I go drifting off. I have a problem with that.

 I have to keep refocusing myself.

I rewrite to do lists to keep myself on task.

I have a list of medium to large goals for myself and my shop.

But none of that has much to do with making time to make new art.

So with that in mind I am going to start a new type of post. I'm going to call it Sketchbook, it will be a weekly image of something I've been working on. It might be a sketch or a detail of a painting, even an experimental thumbnail. But the point is I have to be actively making new things. It will also let me talk about why I even did the work. Which helps me figure out my direction and who I am as an artist.

That is the intangible goal I've avoided for a long time. It's a strange thing to get your arms around.

You know those gut wrenching "critique sessions" in art school. Well maybe this will be a self inflicted critique every week. 

Comments, as always, are welcome!

Monday, November 17, 2014


My favorite thing about starting this project has been my new awareness. I have become more open to the beautiful and the interesting around me.  I carry a moleskin in my purse and I make sure to travel with my sketch book. 

I'm ready to be inspired!

It's a much more engaged way of looking everything. On a trip through middle Georgia we stopped for a train to cross. I instinctively look up from my magazine as we stop, to see the little country railroad crossing. I see this old barn with artificial flowers hanging from the awnings. 

It struck me as funny and really beautiful at the same time.  I love that I had just a small window of time to take a few pictures before the train passed and my opportunity gone. 

Photography by L.Dunn

Friday, November 14, 2014


Sometimes art needs to age in your sketchbook for a few years for you to appreciate what you were trying to see and express. This is a tiny preliminary that I did back almost 8 years ago. I have a version of it on a large canvas that I have carried around for the same length of time. I have gone back to it and changed it as I grew with the painting. 

It's like my child. 
I've been raising it. 
I've never given up on it. 
I always new it could be special.

It's time to revisit it again, with new respect for my initial feelings about the subject. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Interior Design Distraction

I had to take care of some unfinished business Sunday. I have had two dressers sitting in my garage partially refinished for a few months. As I'm working at stripping and sanding, I'm feeling guilty that I'm not making art or getting pieces ready to add to the shop.

So I decided I should make it work for me. I'll be putting together a post on how I'm refinishing those dressers soon. After all this blog has to follow my journey and that doesn't always look like you think it should. Right?

Then I got this magazine in the mail and it was like a sign. I'm gonna HAVE to let my interior designer self have some fun too. I'm obsessed with these velvet walls and that marble fireplace, OMG! 

Okay since we're gonna have some interior design fun I guess I'll share a peek at my current distraction. I've got those dressers and I knew right away that I wanted to restore them to a wood finish. No spray paint here! And what do you do as soon as you get a project idea? Do a Pinterest search of course.

This is my initial idea. Completely strip down the finish and leave the wood almost raw. I love the brass hardware, I'm sold on that, but I wonder if this finish is a bit more casual than I want for a master bedroom.

Now I liked this a lot. A bit more rustic, but it's also a richer looking finish.

Then I found this! I love how antique and warm this finish is! I am planning to do a Carrera marble top for my pieces as well and it looks really nice with this wood tone. It's a plus that this piece doesn't look newly refinished. You can tell it has history.

And this. I love this marble top and this primitive antique chest. Such a great combination of clean crisp white and this dark wood. It seems like it was just pulled out of a dusty attic.

So many choices and I think I've made up my mind, you'll see when I put it all together in a later post! What's your favorite?

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Collage Scrap Art Contest

I came across this contest on my favorite art blog, The Jealous Curator. This is so unlike me. But it looked fun and I'm in the mood to push myself to do new things.

I love the idea of swapping collage pieces with someone in another part of the world. Talk about art bringing the world together! But if I'm honest with myself I was really thinking that my favorite exacto knife has been terribly neglected in my recent art making endeavors. I know this is crazy, but I couldn't wait to cut out impossibly detailed items out of a fashion magazine. I already had a stack of magazine pages that I'd been hording the last few years for no reason at all.

I'll find out on November 15th who my partner will be and I'll have plenty of materials ready for them. I've got the magazine part taken care of, but I want to add some little art sketch of my own to mix in as well as some watercolor cut outs.

This should be fun!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Finish What You Start

So as exciting as it is to have my shop up finally it is only the beginning. I think my goals right now are just to keep adding pieces to the shop and keep making art. I think it's time to add some of my paintings this time. I've got quite a back log of work for someone who only paints on the side so luckily I can pull through all of those to get me started. But ... I must admit to a bad habit.

I will start a painting, be very excited about it and then stop at 90% finished. I don't know why that is, but I have no more excuses. So I decided to make myself finish all of them! It's a daunting task. When I took inventory of all the partially finished paintings it was around 12 or 15! Yikes!

At first I dreaded it. I mean it's so much more fun to start new paintings than go back and finish old ones. I just had to find the discipline to do it. Surprisingly I have enjoyed going back to each one and completing them. Kind of like finishing a book that you put down almost out of fear that you won't like the outcome only to be pleasantly surprised by how it turns out.

And it's funny how going back to a painting is like going back to that point in time when I started it and revisiting parts of my life. Where I was living, what music I was listening to, what time of year it was...all the little details of life you tend to forget. It reminded me of what I love about making art. That's a lot more than I thought I would get out of this project.

I've barely started to complete all of these, I think I've gotten through about 4, and I don't know if I will finish any time soon. But I don't dread the task any more. I look forward to going back and visiting each one and seeing how the story ends.

I thought I'd show you a peek at the pile of work ahead of me. Obviously I could use a studio. This only shows part of the room and I don't have enough closets to store all of these.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Gallery Addition!!

I just can't help myself from being excited about small victories and I had one of those today! I have been thinking about how to share my art even if I cannot get all of it on my Etsy shop. Well now I have a gallery page. At the top of this blog you'll notice three tabs, Home, Etsy Shop, and now Gallery!

All I have added so far are a couple of paintings; a copy of a Degas from a few years ago and a painting from college. But it feels good to share it and I'll keep adding to it and changing it as my art changes. It may even be a fun place to put up new pieces for feed back to decide what I should include in my shop.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Photoshop Class

I am so excited that as part of my adventure into the business of selling art I have found some great tools. I have found the best one yet from the amazing blog Design Love Fest!

Big news I'd say! They just launched an online version of their Photoshop class. It is designed specifically for beginners in the blogging/Etsy/creative business world! That would be me!
I felt like it was one of those things that just came up at such the perfect time that it was meant to be. I literally just purchased a subscription for Photoshop just days before. And I thought that was exciting!

I cannot wait to take it and get started! I am not afraid to admit that graphic design is not my strong suite. I'm confidant with a paint brush or marker, but not so much with sitting down at a computer to create and edit lots of elements. I may have just had too much coffee, but I'm still pretty excited about this. My blog needs to take a step up to match the same standards I have for my art! I'll be sure to share what I learn and create during the class.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Inside the process!

Since I finally launched my shop, I thought it would be fun to show you how I go about sketching my subjects. This is the method I used for all of the black and white images I feature on my Etsy shop.

First find your subject and gather supplies

A vase of flowers always does it for me. My sweet hubby brought these home this weekend so I thought it would be a great drawing subject. Then get all of your drawing tools pulled together in a comfortable work space.

These are the supplies I used:
No. 2 pencil
Derwent HB Sketching pencil
Office Depot Fine Point permanent marker (fancy I know, but really just use what you like)
Pink Pearl Eraser
Canson XL Series Mixed media sketch book

I've got everything together and I have a comfortable place to work so I'm ready. I don't claim to be an art teacher, but I've had plenty of schooling myself so I'll try to share what I know. 
So I center my subject on the page and I want to make the vase in the bottom 1/3 of the page. This gives lots of room for the flowers to take up the top portion of the page.

I start with my No. 2 pencil and sketch out the vase and my flower arrangement. Draw what you see not what you know. Pay attention to how the petals relate to each other and use a light hand.  

I've gotten my arrangement the way I want it so I go back over the whole drawing with my Derwent HB pencil to darken my lines and start bringing out the character in each flower.

Now is the fun part, and the nerve racking part. Use your permanent marker to go over the whole drawing again. By now you have already basically done this drawing twice so you should have a sure hand when tracing back over each line. Be confidant, use bold strokes, give life to your arrangement.

Now you've done it! She's all there! Now is when I like to back in with my Pink pearl and erase the pencil marks that show around the drawing. Go slowly and make sure to get everything. It's amazing the difference this makes in person. It may not come across on the screen, but it's like cleaning her up.

And there she is! I rather like how this turned out. I would like to think that I have followers that would give this a try. If you happen upon this post and give it a go will you please comment and let me know how it went! 

I believe that making art is for everyone! Even if it isn't your true passion, it can be a release and a way to express yourself that no other medium can match.

Happy Drawing!