hello there, gouache. i think i like you.

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I painted this little portrait of Fiona and Elsa for my mom for Mother's Day. It was my first experiment using gouache, and I think it turned out pretty cute. I have a long way to go to get comfortable with this new material, but I have a feeling that this is leading somewhere good. Hooray!

In other artsy news, tomorrow is House Love's one year anniversary. Oh my! I think we have to celebrate! Please check back tomorrow for a special giveaway. It will be my way of saying... Holy crap, thank you! I had no idea that my little house portrait project would become what it has. Almost 130 house portraits later, I have a 6 month long wait list and whole new appreciation for what home means to all of us. Check back tomorrow and celebrate 365 days of House Love with me!

family sketchbook project

The Adventures of Fiona and Elsa  by Miranda

The Adventures of Fiona and Elsa by Miranda

A house and the night sky, she has seven babies  by Fiona

A house and the night sky, she has seven babies by Fiona

{family sketchbook project}
One sketch a week from any family member who'd like to take part.
Just fun. No pressure.

I've been working here and there on creating some Fiona and Elsa illustrations. They have such different looks and ways of carrying themselves, I think their characters could really complement each other well.

Fiona's drawing this week is so sweet. I love the star hanging in the night sky.

family sketchbook project

Tough Girl  by Fiona

Tough Girl by Fiona

{family sketchbook project}
One sketch a week from any family member who'd like to take part.
Just fun. No pressure.

How awesome is this girl? I cannot get enough of these little characters Fiona creates. This tough little thing might be my favorite yet.  Look at that stance!  And I love what Elijah has been doing with the ornate scroll shapes in the last two drawings. ..

Royalty  by Elijah

Royalty by Elijah

Sledding  by Miranda

Sledding by Miranda

For my drawing, I used a photo reference this week. I want to loosen up a bit, so made a conscious effort to look away from the photo for a good portion of the drawing. I can get caught up in drawing from life, or from a photo reference, as the case may be.

I definitely wouldn't have fit in a sketch this week if it weren't for this Wednesday ritual. I'm so glad I've got this going. Stephanie, from Neuroses Galore has been participating, too, so pay her a visit!  If you have your own Family Sketchbook Project, let me know. You can leave your link in the comments and I can add your link up here in the post!

family sketchbook project

Fairy Queen and Princesses  by Fiona

Fairy Queen and Princesses by Fiona

First, a little note to my girl on the day before her fourth birthday:

This week has been full of birthday crafting and celebrating. We had a little princess party for you over the weekend and you loved every minute of it. Tomorrow is your actual birthday, making today your last day as a three year old. Tomorrow you'll be four. You are every bit the big girl that implies, and I am deeply proud of the person you are. There are difficult moments throughout our days, but overall, our life together is peaceful and fun.

You are an absolute joy, Fiona. I could swear the sun shone brighter that early Spring morning you came into my life, and has every morning since. Happy fourth birthday, my darling girl. I love you. Thanks for hanging out with me every day.

Happy Birthday, Fiona!  by Elijah

Happy Birthday, Fiona! by Elijah

{family sketchbook project}
One sketch a week from any family member who'd like to take part.
Just fun. No pressure.

To those of you who participated in the {family sketchbook project} last week, thank you! It was so fun to see what is happening in other children's creative worlds. Their art really is a window into their imaginations. It's quite something to watch unfold.

Typically, I plan to have a drawing of my own included, but my hands were busy with birthday crafting this week. :)

family sketchbook project

Family Walk  by Miranda

Family Walk by Miranda

Birthday Party  by Fiona

Birthday Party by Fiona

{family sketchbook project}
One sketch a week from any family member who'd like to take part.
Just fun. No pressure.

Happy Spring Equinox! What better way to celebrate the first day of my favorite season than with a new blog series featuring one of my favorite things?

I've had this project in the back of my mind for a while now. Fiona draws everyday, but I haven't been setting aside much (if any) time for myself.  I want to change that. We all spend time drawing throughout childhood, but many of us lose that in adulthood. I think it's important that as adults, we still honor our own creative efforts, even (especially!) if they aren't things we are being paid to do.

I've been instragramming Fiona's sketches pretty regularly with a few of mine here and there, and thought it was high time to make it official. Starting today I'll be posting one sketch per week, every week. One of my own and one of Fiona's. Some weeks, Elijah, Elsa or Sheldon might contribute a drawing, too. I love the idea of compiling a collection of drawings from each of us and seeing the evolution.

If anyone in your family enjoys drawing or doodling, it would be fun to give them a platform on your blog. If you decide to play along, share your link here. I'd love to see!

sketchbook baby

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Fifteen months later and I have finally done a little sketch of Elsa, my beautiful baby. (And a baby, she is. Do not tell me otherwise.) As usual (lately), I am rusty with my pencil. I hope to change that. I would like to use my hands more in my art-making. We shall see. I need to give myself the freedom to play that I am so liberal with for my children. It's hard, when work time is at a premium, to spend it drawing like this. It feels very luxurious and perhaps not deserved, when there is a long list of houses to illustrate. Especially because that work is so fun and rewarding. (Who gets to illustrate houses for a living?! That is pretty amazing, no?) Squeezing in a weekly pencil sketch shouldn't be so hard. But who am I kidding? It is hard.

Did you see the post on (cool) progeny about my Play House print? Pretty exciting! Thank you to Claudia and Heather for the love.

if you were there

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Thanks to some late night crafting, the kids found these heart pocket necklaces waiting for them this morning. I filled each with chocolates (which might have been their favorite part! Hah!). And yes, my kids had chocolate for breakfast.

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To You

I think I could walk

through the simmering sand

if I held your hand.

I think I could swim

the skin shivering sea

if you would accompany me.

And run on ragged, windy heights,

climb rugged rocks

and walk on air.

I think I could do anything at all,

if you were there.

~Karla Kuskin

Happy Valentine's Day, my wee ones. I am a bigger, better and braver person because you are here.

handstitched hearts

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Valentine's Day really is the perfect excuse for sweet crafting and homemade goodies. I got the idea for these Valentines from my friend Liz, who had a stack in progress when we visited last week. They are so very sweet and such a beautiful opportunity for handwork with the kids. We have a stack of wet-on-wet paintings from the last couple months and this seemed the perfect way to use them. I can envision making many versions of these cards throughout the year in different shapes and color schemes reflecting the season or holiday.

I put together a tutorial for wet-on-wet painting recently. If you're interested in making these Valentines and haven't used this painting technique before, you should start there.

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Materials:

Dry wet-on-wet painting

Tapestry needle

Embroidery thread

1. Cut or tear your painting into cards. I like the rough edged look for these, so I tore ours. To tear a straight line, fold your paper along a ruler and crease it, then fold in the opposite direction and crease again. This will make it easy to tear along the line.

2. Draw a heart on the white side of one card, then draw dots along the line about every 1/4". Make sure there is a dot on each of the center angles of the heart shape. dont worry about doing this perfectly. These are handmade and are allowed to look it! :)

3. Use your tapestry needle to poke holes through the paintings on each of the dots. Make sure to pull your needle all the way through the paper each time so the holes are big enough. (Thanks for that tip, Liz!)

4. Using your first card as a guide, draw dots and poke holes in the remaining cards.

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5. This is when the children get involved! Help them thread their needles and tie a knot at the end of their thread.

6. Use a backstitch to create the heart design on each card. This type of stitch creates a continuous line rather than having gaps between each stitch. Fiona needed some guidance throughout on where to put the needle next, while Elijah was able to sew them independently. Fiona finished one card completely on her own and then chose to draw on the backs while Elijah and I finished the rest. I wouldn't expect young children to make more than one or two cards, while older kids can probably plow through many of them.

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7. This last step is optional. We cut rectangles that fit on the back and hot glued them on to cover the back side of the stitching. Elijah wrote notes and Fiona drew pictures in that area.

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All of us were so pleased with the results! Don't you love them? I love that they were truly a family effort. Fiona's painting is on the front, Elsa's is on the back. They are mostly sewn and written by Elijah with drawings by Fiona.

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I am still trying to come up with a quick little handmade gift for the kids. Last year I made soaring hearts. Any ideas for this year? Are you doing any Valentine's Day crafting? Or baking? Maybe Valentine's Day baking is the answer! Hm.