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My Journey as a Creative Designer

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Who doesn't like to daydream sometimes? Who doesn't like to allow their thoughts to wander to places impossible to visit? 

As children, we learn to daydream from the many stories and fairy tales we are told and read about. We visit fantastic places, where nothing is impossible and characters are not always human. We hear of mermaids, wizards, and other magical creatures that take on a personality and life that can only occur in our imaginations. It is wonderful and fascinating all at once. 

We learn lessons from many of these stories, as that seems to be their initial intention. But most of the time, when we are young, we don't even realize that we are 'learning'. We are simply so delighted by the events that we want to read the stories over and over (and over) again. 

Stories such as these are a fond memory from my own childhood. We didn't have much, but we did have access to a wonderful array of books. Many of them were old and smelled a bit musty, as they were passed down from my grandmother and who knows who read them before her. 

There were many types of stories - mysteries such as the  "Nancy Drew" and "The Hardy Boys" series (I think she had them all!), classics such as "Little Women", and of course, the fairy tales. This was a time before Disney had a hold on most of the popular fairy tales and things were not produced on such a grand scale. Of course, there were already Disney movies such as Snow White and Cinderella, but the movies were not accompanied by the tons of marketing merchandise that we see today. I think one of my first times to a movie house was to see the movie "Bambi" in the late '60's (Yes! I cried!)  It brought cartoon stories and fairy tales to an entire new level - the big screen. 

But most of my knowledge of the classic stories was through reading books or hearing stories. I don't want to sound 'old', but I like how when reading a book or listening to a story, it was up to our own mind to more or less 'fill in the blanks' and create the pictures or visions that go along with the stories. It may seem funny, but for many of those stories, I still have the same pictures in my mind today that I did nearly 50 years ago. No movie could ever equal that. 

The best thing about fairy tales and stories is that you can enjoy them forever. Not only can you pass them down to your own children and grandchildren, but there is nothing that says you can't relive and enjoy them yourself - no matter how old you get. 

Those of you who follow me know that I enjoy many types of art. If I were to have a 'specialty' for my own artwork, I would probably say that it is 'realistic wildlife'. I think that I have developed an ability to recreate what I see in front of me. It comes rather easy to me these days, and I am able to do it in many forms of media and types of paint. But that doesn't mean that I don't enjoy creating other types of art as well. I thoroughly enjoy painting others' patterns and following their style of painting. I think it is a good exercise for me and helps round me out as an artist within my own rite. I rarely paint a project where I don't learn something new. Following others' techniques and styles will only enhance my own. Besides that - it is FUN!

When I saw the new design that Peggy Harris created for her Japan class, I knew I HAD to paint it. I don't think it would have mattered if I had a recipient for it or not. I would keep it for myself, if anything. But I do have a grand daughter
(Willow) who is having a third birthday and I think it will delight her. (I suppose I have to paint more than one so I can keep one for me!) Long story short, I contacted Peggy and offered to cut the adorable tiara surfaces for her for her North American audience. I had to wait a bit until she finished the class and was able to 'release' the pattern here. But the wait was worth while. Things seemed to fall into place and with us moving and all, the timing worked out perfectly. 

Last weekend, she debuted this adorable pattern and surface on her Facebook page - Peggy Harris Collectibles. It is now available in a special pattern/surface package there.  Later on, I will carry the SURFACE ONLY on my site. You will still need to go to Peggy for the pattern, but she offers it both in print and PDF so you can get started right away. To me, it is a magical journey through fairyland that is not only fun to paint, but fairly easy as well. Her instructions are full and complete and has so far been fun and no pressure, even though this isn't my usual painting style. I am learning quite a bit with it!  I showed you the beginnings of it in yesterday's post, and I wanted to continue to show you how I did last night. I had a lot to do yesterday, including making up an ad for an online magazine, so I didn't get at it until after 8pm. But I made a lot of progress and I wanted to show you just how much I accomplished in a short time. 

I finished the three railings and stairs:

The shading and highlighting was really fun. Since it is more of a cartoon than realistic, it was a 'looser' type of painting that didn't have to be fussy. I used my DecoArt Americana acrylic paints with the Canvas Gel extender to keep the paint moving a bit longer and to offer some more transparency. This worked really well for toning and subtle shading. If you haven't tried this method, I highly recommend it. The longer open time makes things go really easy, as you have time to move the paint just where you want to.

Here is a picture with the frame around it:

Then the REAL fun started! 

I got to add the clock, flowers and topiary shades and highlights:

There is really "no way" you can mess this up.  It is just a series of "tap" "tap" "tap" with one color, than the next. How relaxing it was. Even the clock came out cute!

The little topiary plants look so cute! I especially love the hearts on the top! The subtle details in this piece are what makes it so special, I think!

Here is is with the frame in place:

It is coming together nicely, isn't it?

This didn't take long to do at all. I think the next step is to paint the mice! I wanted to be fresh today to do that. I can't believe how quickly this is going and how nice it looks already. Maybe I WILL have it done in time for Willow's birthday after all! :) 

Have I mentioned that I LOVE what I do for a living?  

Even though this is something that I am doing for myself, I am learning several different and new (to me) techniques. It will help improve my own skills in the long run and hopefully I can apply some of them to my next projects. 

Painting a fairy tale subject such as this just makes me happy. It is fun to allow my mind to wander back to the memories of my childhood and for a little while at least, I am THERE!  

I don't think I will every get too old to enjoy a good fairy tale! Whether I have children around or not, there will always be the child inside of me that adores them. Thanks to Willow, I have an 'excuse' for now. After that, we will have to think of something else! 

Happy Tuesday to you all! May your day be filled with daydreams! 


  1. Julie Blow on August 23, 2016 at 11:48 AM said:
    Love your comments and it brought back memories. Although my daughter was born in 1971, "Bambi" was her first movie too, and she cried (I probably did too). Later when we lived in Japan (she was 2-5), she'd cry during Lassie, and that was in Japanese! Now her daughter, just 8, is writing stories about fairies. I skyped with her the other day and she was on p. 40 (she's only going to start second grade!). I have been working just with paper and was thinking about doing the tiara project (also have an almost 5 year-old granddaughter). I'm glad you mentioned what paints you use (acrylics). I'll have to investigate that Canvas Gel. I've mostly used watercolors and pencils and most recently hard pastels, but do own some acrylics that I bought for a workshop (although they're cheap). Have a good day!
  2. Sheila Bergner-Landry on August 23, 2016 at 1:47 PM said:
    I love hearing about your grand daughter, and daughter, Julie. We are so fortunate to live in a time when we can Skype with our loved ones all over the world! Thank goodness for that! Even though "Art" is my living, I am sometimes frustrated that there are so many different brands and types of paint. I am sure for a newcomer or a beginner (and even a veteran, like myself!) it can be so overwhelming, confusing and expensive. I like Peggy's philosophy that we need to learn the basics and MIX colors (EGADS!!) I find myself doing that more and more. Lots of the 'basic' colors have the same names across many brands. Once you learn to mix them and adjust the tone, you are good with fewer paints and it opens up an entire new perspective on painting. I am not saying that it isn't fun to use new products, but I just think that it keeps us from being stopped by not having a particular shade of one color or another. The Canvas Gel is great for extending the drying time and for blending acrylics. I hope you find the same. :) Thanks for sharing your thoughts! Sheila
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