December 5, 2012

december progress and making calendar gifts

photo of rainbow over the Columbia River
rainbow over the Columbia River
December is feeling a bit chaotic here. I have a bunch of great jewelry pieces in progress that I need to work on much more before they're finished, and I really wanted to add them to my Etsy shop in time for  Christmas shopping (we'll see!). I'm also doing computer work for a couple clients (graphics, web site updating, which I do a little of on the side). Plus other assorted household happenings, such as driving several hours each way last weekend to pick up a washer and dryer that are newer and nicer than our old ones (my parents are moving and don't need them at their new house).

At least I can say most of my Christmas gift "shopping" is done, though! Rather, gift making. For the last several years, I have made calendars with photos of my kids as gifts for relatives who enjoy them, and I recently finished the page layouts. I'm just waiting for the prints to come back now. I make them digitally (like most my scrapbook pages), have them printed as 8x8 inch photos, mount them on cardstock, and create a base so it stands on a desk or shelf. I use two binder rings at the top to allow the pages to be flipped.

The great thing about creating digitally is I can design each month's page once, and have as many copies printed as I need. It's a fun project! If you've wanted to do this, or done them paper scrapbooking style and got burned out making multiple sets, I highly recommend it. If you don't want to do any assembly, you can have traditional wall-hanging calendars made from your designs as well (check your choice of printing service for formats before designing your pages). I use an old version of Photoshop Elements to create my digital layouts. Digital elements are PC and Mac compatible and can be purchased from many digital scrapbooking suppliers online. My layouts are being printed by Scrapping Simply. I recently switched to them for printing my 12x12 layouts and photo greeting cards, and I am very pleased with their quality! Below is the December page layout from this year's calendar (supplies listed at bottom of post).

calendar Christmas gift project example December 2012 page digital scrapbooking by Jennifer Kistler
scrapbook calendar page December 2012

photo of Columbia River Cathlamet Bay Tongue Point Oregon copyright 2012 Jennfier Kistler
view from my childhood home, on our last visit over the weekend
such typical northwest winter weather!


digital calendar layout supplies used on December 2012 page: Brush Set Life In Action Calendars 2012 Set 1 (Pebbles Jones), Photo Masks Rough It Up (Ang Campbell), Mod Bungalow papers (Brandy Hackman), all from ScrapGirls.




November 23, 2012

giving thanks as we go into winter

Happy (late) Thanksgiving! I hope everyone had a great day celebrating their blessings and giving thanks. We enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving meal with friends of my parents. Thankful I didn't have to cook! Every Thanksgiving I think about my Mayflower ancestors coming to America. I don't know if I would have been so brave! You can read more about my Mayflower ancestry here. Earlier this week, my younger son surprised me by bringing home a picture he drew of the Mayflower during some free time at school, which I happily hung on the refrigerator.

Feels a little like Christmas for me already, I have a new toy to play with. I have been blessed with a barely-used DSLR camera that I have wanted for several years. I am so thrilled! Finally I can stop missing the things I loved about my old film SLR (plus this one can do so much more). My first experiment with it was the low-light candle photo above. With my old digital camera, I would've needed a tripod, and it still would have been terribly grainy and the color would have to be adjusted afterwards. I used manual settings, no tripod, and the only editing I did was to crop it! This photo may not win any awards, but it tells me I may get some good photos of Christmas lights this year, and maybe even decent photos at my kids' Christmas programs!

On Thanksgiving, we also got our Christmas tree up and the lights on it. I wish it were real, but it's a small faux tree. The good part is we can keep it up as long as we want, and no worries about mold allergies, either. With the dark, wintry weather we've had lately, I am so ready for the cheer of the Christmas season! My older son is putting ornaments on our tree as I type, and I will go join him soon. I'll be putting on the Mannheim Steamroller, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, and Polar Express music before the end of the day. Bring it on! 

The Mayflower (by Steven, age 9)




November 12, 2012

a holiday shopping thank you!

colorful closeup of autumn leaves on a tree next door photo by Jennifer Kistler copyright 2012
the autumn leaves next door
Last weekend I participated in a local sales event at our church. I haven't done many in-person events with my jewelry, so I was happy for this opportunity that only involved setting up on a table indoors. Much simpler than a tent with multiple tables outdoors. It was well-organized, filled with great vendors, and they even provided a delicious warm lunch. (thank you, ladies!)

I enjoyed meeting all the people that came through, and explaining how I make my jewelry. I especially want to thank the people that made purchases! I felt it was a success, and I was happy to contribute to the RCS Foundation as well.

You can see I had a helper who kept me company, too. When it was done, he practically had my stuff all packed up for me! I think I will hire him again (even if he thinks it will be boring). Thanks, kiddo!

my jewelry sales table at Holiday Shopping Extravaganza sales event November 3 2012
my sales table at the Holiday Shopping Extravaganza Nov 3 2012

For more holiday shopping, be sure to check out my Etsy shop! Jewelry makes a great gift, or treat yourself!

November 1, 2012

colorful red creek jasper

fall autumn leaves necklace rectangle silver pendant with jasper accents on Etsy by Jennifer Kistler
autumn leaves necklace
Today I want to share a natural stone that is fairly new to the market. While it may be sold under other names, I have learned it is called Red Creek Jasper and it is being mined in China. This jasper features a stunning variety of rich colors, including brick red, sage green, yellow ochre, beige, tan, and brown, with fabulous multi-directional veining. Each bead is wonderfully unique!

The colors of Red Creek Jasper lend it well to my autumn leaves jewelry. But it also reminds me of a desert with vibrant red rocky hills and scattered sage brush, which has inspired me to use it with my southwest tribal-inspired Wild Pony horse designs.


wild pony running horse bracelet handmade silver link with red creek jasper beads on Etsy by Jennifer Kistler
"Wild Pony" bracelet with Red Creek Jasper beads


scattered leaves handmade recycled fine silver pendant with red creek jasper beads on Etsy by Jennifer Kistler
autumn leaves necklace rectangle pendant with Red Creek Jasper


little maple leaf handmade recycled silver pendant with red creek jasper accent bead on Etsy by Jennifer Kistler
small fall leaf necklace with Red Creek Jasper accent bead


October 30, 2012

holiday sales event and etsy gift cards

single autumn fall leaf golden yellow and red on sidewalk photo by Jennifer Kistler copyright 2012
The last couple weeks found me going on a pumpkin patch field trip with my younger son (thankful that day was beautiful!), listening to the rain pouring down, enjoying the ever-changing colors of autumn, watching my older son sing in choir at his first middle school concert, having a great birthday (thank you to my family!), and finally joining Pinterest (oh, wow... more on my adventures in Pinterest later).

This week (among other things) I am preparing to vend at a local sales event. Since I haven't done much in-person selling of my jewelry, I don't have a fancy booth set-up, but I am hoping to put together a little signage, perhaps some enlargements of jewelry photos that can stand up and be seen across the room. Thankfully, this event is indoors and I'll just be setting up a table. Local readers, mark your calendar (and bring your cash!), the Holiday Shopping Extravaganza is this coming weekend, November 3 10am to 5pm at West Hills Community Church (1650 Brush College Rd NW in Salem Oregon). Though it feels like it's just fall, Christmas is not that far off, so get a start on your shopping here!

fall trees stormy sky with rainbow nature photograph by Jennifer Kistler copyright 2012
my view one day last week (fall trees with stormy skies and a rainbow)

For customers everywhere, I want to share that I now also accept Etsy's Direct Checkout. This is a feature that Etsy created earlier this year, which means if you don't want to go through PayPal, you can use Direct Checkout instead and just enter your credit card.

But that's not all! Etsy has just come out with gift cards, and because I accept Etsy's Direct Checkout, you can use Etsy gift cards in my online shop! They would make a great gift for someone you know who likes to shop Etsy, or if you would like to buy them something from my shop but aren't sure what they'd like (be sure to direct them to my shop when you give the card if that is your intent). Note that Etsy gift cards may only be purchased in the United States, though they can be given to and redeemed by someone outside the U. S. (but only at Etsy shops in the U. S. that accept Direct Checkout). Items from shops that accept Etsy gift cards are clearly marked. (see example below) People have been asking Etsy for gift cards for a while now, so this is pretty exciting!




That's it for today... and because I just can't resist, I'll leave you with one more photo of an autumn tree.


fall autumn tree golden yellow leaves photo copyright Jennifer Kistler 2012
autumn in my neighborhood



October 19, 2012

mixed signs (and mixed feelings) of autumn

decorative gourd in my son's hands
cute little gourd
I went on my younger son's pumpkin patch field trip this week. After the recent pouring rain, we were so thankful to have a lovely, sunny day for it! He got to pick a pumpkin and a decorative gourd. Does anyone else think this gourd looks like something that should have its fuse lit and be thrown to explode? That occurred to me as I walked by it in the kitchen, had to laugh. Of course they did other stuff, like go down the slide on the hay pyramid, and play in the hay maze and hay fort, which is why I think the kids really like the pumpkin patch! Hardly anyone else was there besides his class, which was even better.

My older son is in middle school now, and no longer gets field trips to pumpkin patches. It's bittersweet to watch your kids get older! Just when you're enjoying one stage, they move on to another. I hadn't even heard of pumpkin patches like these when I was a kid, so going with their school classes has been a treat. We may actually have to see how much a nice pumpkin costs at the local stores so he can pick one, too. Personally, I have wanted a blue one for a few years now!


my son in the pumpkin patch
picking the perfect pumpkin
 
It's a strange time of year, when it can rain an inch or more one day, and be lovely the next. Trees are turning and pumpkins are popping up everywhere, but my strawberry plants are still bearing the odd berry (and particularly big ones compared to the early summer berries!), and the roses are still blooming. Outside our front door are these roses, which managed to survive the recent downpours although the whole (very long) stem is seriously drooping. I almost pruned it off last week because I knew it would get knocked over by the rain, but now I'm so glad I didn't!


light pink rose blossoms photo by Jennifer Kistler 2012
roses in autumn

October 15, 2012

this week...

first colors of autumn neighborhood trees photo by Jennifer Kistler
first fall colors
I didn't manage to finish any other blog posts, was feeling a bit under the weather for most of one week, and then been catching up on things around here since then. But this one I could totally do.

The last couple weeks found me...

discovering photos I didn't know existed (someone likes to put stuff from the secondary cameras and phones into computer folders I rarely get into), and finding some that I had wondered where they were

noticing that the midday shadows are long and the light is different as the sun moves lower in the sky

changing the bottom bed sheet to flannel (ahhh, so cozy and comfy)

learning about early pioneer life in the Northwest on a field trip (love going on school field trips with my kids!) Sooo thankful for modern conveniences

making an account of my own on Roblox because my younger son loves teaching me games he likes

reliving good memories as I made a couple scrapbook layouts (on the computer, so fun and no mess!)

digital scrapbook layout: Mother's Day at Silver Falls 2012


identifying yet another computer program I want to learn (Adobe Illustrator; it has been ages since I used a vector graphics program, and this is nothing like it!)

watching the rain fall

enjoying what felt like a mini-staycation one day while the kids were at school, which may become a weekly habit, as my husband now works most of the weekends

seeing the first winter birds arrive

fall colors on tree across the street photo by Jennifer Kistler
tree across the street yesterday

digital scrapbook layout includes these products: Persimmon collection (background paper and "Family" word art) from Scrap Girls, Roughed Up Photo Mats in Grove (photo mat, color adjusted) from Designer Digitals. No, I don't get anything from them for the mention, I just enjoy using their stuff so much I want to share it with you!






September 28, 2012

this week...

my well-loved little piano
Inspired by Ali Edwards' challenge, I'm trying a different kind of post (to mix in with my usual posts). I was a little late to participate in the challenge, but I love the idea, so here goes!

This week found me:

Creating jewelry. Finished up a batch of silver pieces. Got happily engrossed in turning them into finished jewelry. 

Encouraging third-graders in art making. Last school year I volunteered in my younger son's class during art and craft projects. Loved it! The teacher asked if I would help again this year even though my son has moved up to fourth grade. (of course I said Yes!) 

Listening to Owl City a lot. Yeah, I may not fit the demographic of his typical fan, but his music has a youthful joy that makes me happy. Bonus: it's clean, fun stuff that my kids like, too. Also, really moved by the Plumb song Need You Now (How Many Times), which I just discovered this week on Air 1 radio.

Singing along to above music, really loud, when no one else is home (usually while working in the kitchen).

Playing piano. Got tired of what I've played recently, and it seems early for Christmas songs, so I've been rediscovering my old The Joy Of Bach book. Forgot how soothing those orderly, rhythmic songs are. Some also have beautiful drama hidden in them.

Stressing and stewing about adversities in my personal life. Nothing new, just ongoing stuff I wish I could fix or change. Note to self: stew a little less.

Walking to and from the school and church. Partly because of good weather, and then a few extra times because one car was in the shop. (glad we live so close!)
  
Tasting a few wonderful, big strawberries from the backyard.

Anticipating another NASCAR race this weekend. After watching much of the awesome race that got Jeff Gordon into the championship chase, I decided to make a point of watching the rest of the races this season, just to have something fun and different to look forward to.

Talking. Open House night at school. Nice to see so many smiling faces of people I haven't had a chance to talk to in a while. Feeling more connected, happy.

sunset (caught with my phone during the school Open House)

September 24, 2012

simple woodgrain silver

simple minimalist woodgrain texture silver disc earrings by Jennifer Kistler
minimalist silver earrings
Last week, I finished a batch of silver pieces and ran them through the kiln. This included some more ocean wave pieces that had been sitting half-done, plus some more woodgrain texture silver discs. These have been finished as earrings and listed to my Etsy shop. My goal is develop a nice collection of the woodgrain texture pieces.

Another thing I've been working on the last couple weeks is running test pieces of bronze and copper through the kiln. Bronze and copper metal clays must be fired in carbon, and they are much trickier to fire properly. I had switched to a different container for the carbon, and had to test several times to get the right combination of ramp speed (how fast the kiln heats up), target temperature, and hold time (how long the target temperature is held). I think I have arrived at the right firing formula for each metal clay. I already have some woodgrain texture pieces started in copper, and will be making various pieces in both copper and bronze very soon! There are so many possibilities with the different color metals, and thankfully these are less expensive than the silver metal clay (the price of which has stayed high, even though silver itself has gone down from where it was a while ago). I am envisioning pieces with multiple dangling fall leaves in the different colored metals. There are so many things I want to try, I wish it could all be done more quickly!

textured silver disc earrings with green aventurine stone accent by Jennifer Kistler
small textured silver disc earrings with green aventurine stone accent

September 17, 2012

shimmering kyanite

Kyanite raindrop necklace woodgrain silver link by Jennifer Kistler
opaque blue, darker streak on side
Some years back, when I was still fairly new to making jewelry, I stumbled across an intriguing stone in my favorite color on a web site. I had never heard of it, but felt like I had found "my" stone!

Kyanite is a lesser-known gemstone. It has two different hardnesses, 6-7 (moh's scale) across the width of the crystals, 4.5 across the length. This makes it difficult to cut. It has industrial uses, such as in heat resistant porcelains, spark plugs, and electrical insulators. Kyanite that is cut into beads is usually blue or green, but it comes in a few other colors as well. Blues range from transparent royal blue (AAA grade gems) similar to Sapphire, to medium and light blues that can be transparent, opaque, or anything in between. Blues range from cool cornflower blue to light watery aqua that can look similar to Aquamarine. Kyanite has subtle or obvious shimmery streaks through it like thin layers. Quite a bit of Kyanite is medium blue with royal blue streaks.



Kyanite horse bracelet by Jennifer Kistler, not for sale
light blue Kyanite with royal blue streaks, shimmery layers, and black inclusions
Sterling Silver snowflake earrings with Kyanite
earrings with watery Aquamarine-like Kyanite accents

Kyanite continues to be one of my favorite natural stones, so you'll see it turn up in jewelry I make. Today I'm sharing photos of a few pieces, showing some variations of the stone. It is good to know that Kyanite is a somewhat heavy stone. For instance, a necklace full of good-sized Kyanite beads will weigh noticeably more than one of, say, Jasper beads the same size. In smaller amounts it is not as noticeable. Also, it may break more easily than some stones. I recommend putting on/taking off ALL stone jewelry over carpet, a bed, or couch, in case it is fumbled and drops (I speak from experience!).


The necklace at top is currently for sale in my Etsy shop, the bracelet is my own, and the earrings are available in my secondary Etsy shop.

September 13, 2012

turning images into jewelry

rearing wild pony necklace
My jewelry features my own designs, so you won't find it anywhere else! For years I wanted to create jewelry with my own horse designs, and then I couldn't resist expanding into some of my other favorite nature motifs. Today I thought I'd share the process of creating the images that I use.

I often do drawings by hand first, either from my mind (such as the pen and ink drawing of a prancing Arabian horse that I call "Joy", seen in the center of the photo below), or inspired by photos (such as many of my more realistic horse designs like the Andalusian in piaffe, and cantering Friesian). Then I scan them into the computer for cleaning up and sizing. Other images I create from my own photographs (most of my autumn leaf designs were made this way, as well as my plumeria flower). I do this in Photoshop by "drawing" the outlines or silhouettes I want on a separate layer on top of my photo, and then deleting my photo.

some of my illustrations that have been turned into jewelry designs

The next step is to determine the size(s) I want for each image. Then I send the digital files to have them made into clear rubber (photopolymer) stamps. I usually have two or more sizes made of each image for different uses.

I use these custom stamps (stuck to an acrylic block) to impress my images into the metal clay. It sounds simple, but images don't often turn out right the first time. Once I like how the image is in the clay, I use a template to cut the clay into its final shape. For pieces such as the leaves that are shaped like leaves (no background shape), I carefully use an X-acto knife to cut along the outer line of the design.

custom image stamps ready to use with metal clay

My woodgrain textured pieces are created without an image stamp, but rather I carve the texture by hand with a simple sculpting tool in the wet clay, then cut out the shape of the piece. Each one has a one-of-a-kind texture.

So that's how I turn my images into jewelry, up to the point of getting the image in the metal clay. (There are many more steps before a piece is finished.) Due to this process, I am able to use my own unique designs over and over, and reinvent them with different background shapes, use them in different sizes, and so on.

What's next in new designs? I would like to add a jumping horse with rider. I would also like to figure out how to capture some of my favorite places/views in simple line drawings that will translate well to small stamps, but that is quite a challenge. I have some sea creature ideas as well. I also would love to hear what horse images or other nature-theme images you wish you could find in jewelry.

September 10, 2012

living simply, or less is more

If you desire to live more simply, or feel overwhelmed by cluttered spaces and cluttered schedules, you're not alone. I believe modern society is contributing greatly to this, but it doesn't have to be that way! We can each stop to think and make our own choices about how to live our lives. In response to this, minimalism and simplification seem to be popular themes for blogs and articles these days.

Anyone who has been to visit me knows I will never be a minimalist when it comes to stuff (yeah, I hear you laughing! And never mind all the kids' LEGOs!). But I am always on the lookout for things that just don't need to take up space in my house. (at least things that I can make a decision about.)  The fact is, if you were to look at just my personal stuff apart from my family's, I really don't own that much (my husband owns more shoes than I do). I certainly own a lot less than I used to. The exception is all my supplies for making things. Being interested in many creative pursuits tends to do that! And I'm okay with that. But I regularly purge my supplies, too.

Minimalism or simplifying is not just about the physical stuff. It's about what having the right perspective about stuff, and the right amount of stuff, can do for the other aspects of your life.

I try to live more simply, especially when it comes to schedules, for my sanity! Too much busy-ness makes me tired and grumpy, worn out on the inside. I need time to just be, time to think, time to take care of daily chores without cramming them between a hundred other things, time to be the kind of person my kids deserve.

The reason I tell you all this is because a recent blog post inspired me to share a few thoughts on the matter. While we're not all going to quit our job and move to the country, that beautiful guest post is a fantastic example of what life can be, proof that "less" really can be more. That post is from my favorite blog, Be More With Less (Life On Purpose) by Courtney Carver. I have been reading her blog for many months (maybe close to a year now), and I love that the concepts in her blog posts can be applied to your life in some way, regardless of how minimalistic you are. Her writing is also very uplifting, which I appreciate. For inspiration to dump that extra clutter (of all types), and have time/space/money left to enjoy what's really important in life, take a look!

August 20, 2012

tide pool creatures

exploring the beach
When my boys and I were visiting my parents in July, we went clamming one morning at Fort Stevens State Park. My boys had been clamming before with them, but I hadn't. It was an amazing morning, bright and sunny, and we ended up taking our coats off by the end because it wasn't even windy and cool.

Andrew was very interested in actually getting clams with the clam "gun". But Steven was more interested in checking out the sandy tide pools left by the low tide. I love seafood, but that doesn't include bivalves (and there weren't enough clam guns for all of us anyway), so I gladly followed Steven on his leisurely wanderings.


Andrew using the clam gun

Most pools of water were barren. But he spotted a few with small shrimp. They were fun to watch swim around and burrow into the sand. They really blend in. Some pools had a few full-grown shrimp, and other pools were filled with hundreds of tiny ones. We found a hermit crab in a small white shell, and some tiny snails making trails in the sand underwater. And we found something that I now know is called a sand flea or mole crab. I had seen them once before and wondered what in the world it was (I thought it looked like a shrimp without a tail!), but didn't get a photo of that one.

small shrimp in tide pool


hermit crab in tide pool

The patches of water in the vast sandy beach didn't look like they would have much in them, not like the rocky tide pools with starfish and urchins one usually imagines. But they turned out to be interesting in their own right!




August 17, 2012

the sparkling, salty sea

One of the neat features of Etsy is being able to curate treasuries. When I first joined Etsy, treasuries only lasted a few days, and the number of treasury slots was limited. I snagged one once, and made a horse theme treasury. Now they last indefinitely, and you can make as many as you want. I've made quite a few since that change! It can be a lot of fun. It's a great way to show off what you've found on Etsy, and gives sellers a little more publicity.

Today I was looking at my favorites on Etsy, and noticed I had "hearted" a bunch of ocean theme items recently, so I thought I'd compile them into a collection. It has been a while since I shared a treasury here on my blog, so here it is, perfect for summer! Check out all the great finds!

The Sparkling Salty Sea a treasury by Jennifer Kistler on Etsy.com

August 16, 2012

summer family reading

When I became a parent, I had no idea I would love reading to my kids so much. (At least when they're being good listeners.) We started a routine of reading at bedtime with simple short books like Time For Bed by Mem Fox. Over the years we've done a mixture of modern popular stuff (Thomas the Tank Engine, Bob the Builder, Oswald) and vintage books. Some of my favorites include Harold and the Purple Crayon, The Huffin Puff Express, and (each December) Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree (the same one I had as a kid, complete with crayon scribblings inside the front and back covers I hate to admit are mine!).

My boys are 9 and 11 now, and in recent years the reading choices have grown up quite a bit. I recently read them one of the books I saved from my youth, and how fun that was! In addition to the Black Stallion book series, when I was young I was fascinated with youth wilderness survival stories. Earlier this summer I figured my boys might enjoy Lost In The Barrens by Farley Mowat. I knew I had liked the story enough to save the book, but I honestly couldn't remember much about it. It was great to experience the adventure with them all over again!

We followed that with one of Mowat's lighter works, Owls In The Family. Oh gosh, how funny! It looks like we are going to finish our summer reading with the first book of the Dive trilogy by Gordon Korman that we picked up at a garage sale last week. The great thing about summer break (and being a work-at-home-mom) is if we get really into a book and can't wait to hear what happens next, I can read to them in the middle of the day, too.

And of course my kids do read on their own. My younger son read my old copy of Island of the Blue Dolphins this spring, and really liked it. Another outdoor survival story for youth that I had enjoyed. Made me smile.

July 31, 2012

textured silver jewelry

handmade textured fine silver hoop earrings by Jennifer Kistler
textured silver hoops
Here are some pieces I worked on last week. I had done this woodgrain-like texture on some heart pendants in the past, and wanted to try it on some other basic shapes. I use a simple sculpting tool and hand-sculpt the grooves across the surface of the metal clay before cutting out the shape, so each one is unique like a fingerprint. When finished, the texture has a look that I think is both nature-inspired and modern.

I made some hoops for earrings (shown above left) which I'm keeping for myself. I have been wearing them the last several days, and I love them! I plan to make more pairs to sell. I also made small circle connectors that will have stones dangling from them, and a couple heart pendants that will hang at an angle instead of straight. Several of these will be available in my Etsy shop soon. I'm considering developing a full line of jewelry in this style. Most will be bright silver like these, and some will be oxidized (so the grooves are darkened).

handmade textured fine silver jewelry pieces by Jennifer Kistler
textured silver pieces ready to be made into jewelry

July 18, 2012

what's blooming

clematis
Here are some things that are blooming in my yard right now. The clematis we've had for quite a few years, and every summer it brightens our little porch by the front door, growing up the corner post.

The daylilies are new. Of course now that I took the photos I realize I need to pull out some old leaves. Good thing this isn't a gardening magazine! We had a gift certificate to a nursery that we spent recently, and they were part of what we picked out. I've never had daylilies before, and I am thrilled with them. These particular ones are smaller plants than some. We planted them in a long-vacant spot in the flowerbed right by the driveway, so they will be enjoyed often. I just love the grass-like leaves and the gorgeous blooms. I'm wondering why I didn't get some years ago!



daylily


another daylily

July 16, 2012

underwater watercolors


nautilus (based on photo by unknown) 4 x 6" watercolor


It has been good for my boys to see me painting. They've seen me work on different projects over the years, but not painting a "regular picture". When I took time to do these little watercolors, they each got inspired to work on something creative. In addition, my younger son decided he wanted to tell me what to paint! He had me get on the internet and find some images of sea creatures I like. Here are the first two results of that project. I admit that I lost track of who to give credit to for the photographs these were based on. I usually try to capture images just as they are, but for these I made the backgrounds light instead of dark where these creatures are usually found, for a more cheerful effect. I have to say I have never painting anything like these before, and they were fun!


cuttlefish (based on photo by unknown) 4 x 6" watercolor





July 13, 2012

more petite watercolors


watercolor painting by Jennifer Kistler Columbia River sunset copyright 2012
Columbia River sunset (based on a photo I took) 4 x 6" watercolor

Here are a few more of the little watercolors I did last week. (read more about them here) They are are from photos I have taken over the years on visits to my childhood home on the Columbia River.


watercolor painting by Jennifer Kistler heron bird at low tide copyright 2012
heron at low tide (based on a photo I took) 4 x 6" watercolor


watercolor painting by Jennifer Kistler mud hens on river number two copyright 2012
mud hens in winter #2 (based on a photo I took) 4 x 6" watercolor







July 11, 2012

petite watercolors

watercolor painting by Jennifer Kistler mud hens in winter copyright 2012
mud hens in winter (based on a photo I took) 4 x 6" watercolor

When I was packing to spend a week at my parents' place with my boys recently, I wanted to bring a creative project or two to work on while I was there. After discarding the ideas that would be difficult to pack, I decided to do something I hadn't done in far too long. Paint.

I realized that, besides painting scenes on large stage flats for VBS, I hadn't actually painted a picture since my oldest son was born. Really? Maybe I'm forgetting something, but the last picture I remember painting was while I was pregnant with him, about twelve years ago. As a kid I drew a lot of pictures (mainly horses). But when I got into high school and took every art class I could, I fell in love with painting. Acrylic is my favorite because it allows for infinite fine-tuning, laying light over dark when needed, and very precise control (and all this in the hands of a perfectionist equals very long projects). I also enjoy watercolors, which better lend themselves to quick projects, at least for me. I made sure all my tubes of watercolors were still good, grabbed a little 4x6 inch pad of watercolor paper that is bound on all sides (that I had saved for years), found some suitable brushes, and I was good to go!

I figured I would do some painting from life, and also printed some photos I had taken in case I wanted something different. Here are two from the first afternoon I got my paints out. And wow, it felt so great to paint again!



watercolor painting by Jennifer Kistler Columbia River Cathlamet Bay view copyright 2012
Columbia River view (from life, July 2012) 4 x 6" watercolor