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Since childhood I’ve had a fascination with the Water Horse, A.K.A: the Loch Ness Monster or Nessie of Loch Ness. I was so interested in this (mythical) creature that I even wrote my 7th grade research paper on the topic.
This is not the first loch ness monster themed piece that I have created, but it is the latest. A relatively small drawing, I long debated coloring it in with colored pencil before doing so, as I was contented with the original pen and ink sketch.
This is a valuable lesson for artists: Sometimes it is necessary to live with a piece of artwork before making drastic decisions. As time continues, constant observation and instinct will help guide your decisions, but until you have reached that point, it’s important to keep yourself from rushing pieces, simply to say you have finished.
A simple drawing, I’m happy with the result: a naturalistic drawing that reminds viewers of the magic in our natural world.
As my favorite season, I’m so excited (and inspired) that it is now officially fall! To celebrate, I’ve put together a to-do list for this fall season, a compilation of my favorite ways to celebrate the most anticipated time of year.
FALL TO DO LIST:
Decorate the porch with these awesome concrete pumpkin planters.
Bake pumpkin-flavored goodies even if PSL season did start a month ago.
Plan your own Oktoberfest! Because we all need another reason to eat a ridiculous amount of food and drink beer.
Visit a fall-inspired location. Apple orchard, pumpkin patch, cider mill….Take your pick!
Start making Halloween plans (if you haven’t already). Between goodies, costumes and jack-o-lantern designs, you have your work cut out for you!
Break out the sweaters, it’s officially #sweaterweather!
Drink fall beer. Between Oktoberfest and Pumpkin Spice varieties, fall time is beer prime time.
Make a fall craft, such as these lovely table textiles.
Get ready for football season.
Whether its following this list, or your own traditions, I hope you are as excited about this fall as I am. A fleeting time of year, let’s enjoy it while we can!
During the fall, most of us are overcome with a strong urge to decorate, filling our homes with fake leaves and throwing Indian corn and scarecrows up on our front porches.
In your transition from summer to autumn, I would highly consider giving this project a try. For less than ten dollars, you can create two beautiful and unique pumpkin planters, pieces that you will be able to use for many years to come!
WHAT YOU’LL NEED:
- 50 lb bag of concrete
- Bucket or wheel barrow for mixing your concrete
- A concrete-mixing tool, such as a shovel
- 2 plastic trick-or-treating pumpkins
- Non-stick cooking spray
- Vessels to place inside the planters (we used gatorade bottles, but I would recommend something with straight and smooth sides)
- An exact-o knife or cardboard cutter
- Spray paint, acrylic paint and paint brushes (if desired)
- Mix your concrete following the instructions on the bag. We mixed our concrete by using a shovel and wheelbarrow.
- Tape a small square of styrofoam to the bottom of your plastic pumpkins (this will be for the water to drain out the bottom of your planter).
- Spray the inside of the plastic pumpkins and the outside of the placeholders (gatorade bottles) with cooking spray.
- Set the placeholders on top of the styrofoam pieces inside the pumpkins.
- Fill the pumpkins with concrete while holding the placeholders steady. Occasionally shake the pumpkins to ensure the concrete is settling properly.
- Once filled, leave the pumpkins to set and dry. If able, place them in the sun to speed up the drying process. I would recommend giving them 24-48 hours to set.
- Once the pumpkins have properly set, cut away the plastic using a box cutter or exact-o knife.
- Remove the placeholder inside each pumpkin.
- Cure the planters by placing them in a bucket of water or misting them with a squirt bottle.
We let our pumpkins sit for about a week, giving the concrete an adequate amount of time to set and cure.
If interested in decorating your pumpkins with paint, I would recommend first spray painting them with orange paint, creating a base layer for further decoration. I would also recommend two coats of spray paint, making sure you are filling in any small pores that may have formed in your concrete.
Once the spray paint has dried, you can use acrylic paint and a paint brush to fill in the your pumpkins’ faces.
Last, but certainly not least, fill your planters with mums or other fall-time plants.
And there you have it: two beautiful planters that you can use year after year for under ten dollars. So, what are you waiting for? Halloween is only 6 weeks away!
As the summer comes to a close, I’m pleased to be ending my summer-inspired embroideries on a high note.
Looking to create unique and naturally whimsical pieces, I came across the idea of incorporating an anchor into one of my embroideries, a visual element that is timeless and as of late, quite popular. With mysterious tentacles closing in from both directions, I hoped for this piece to be colorful and fun.
After completing the initial sketch, I spent the next five weeks filling in the space with colors, enjoying the contrast between the anchor and its thieves. Aside from the stark color difference found between the blues and reds, there is also a strong contrast between the organic nature of the tentacles and the solid foundation of the piece, the anchor.
I’m a strong believer in contrast and find it worth experimenting with multiple contrasting elements in a single piece.
Overall, I’m very pleased with this piece and can well imagine it hanging next to my last embroidery, “Mushrooms.”
While the summer may be coming to a close, I know that my embroidery production is not. I look forward to fall inspiration and adding to this “Naturally Whimsical” series!
Even though it is still technically summer, my eagerness for fall has resulted in my house already being decorated for the upcoming season!
To add a pop of color to my dining room table, I wove this fall-inspired textile using commercial fabric and a tapestry loom. For full instructions on making these table settings, click here.
Undoubtedly, the best time to visit Central New York is in the fall. Our region is known for its picturesque orange and red foliage, pumpkin patches and various apple orchards. One of the best known fall destinations is the Fly Creek Cider Mill in Fly Creek, NY.
Dating back to the 1800s, the owners have kept up tradition, continuing to make cider (both regular and hard) the old-fashioned way. Having gained an immense amount of popularity in the area, the tourist attraction offers much more than just cider and donuts:
Food Samples: Recently remodeled, the inside of the Mill is the main attraction, with the store offering a plethora of different jams, sauces, pastry mixes, dips and more. While there is plenty to buy, the best part is getting to taste much of what the store has to offer!
Wine Tasting: the store offers its own miniature winery, allowing customers to sample all of the different apple wines and apple ciders they make on site. While their classic apple cider is delicious and festive, splurge a little on the Apple Frost wine if you are looking to treat yourself.
Snack Shack: If you’re not full from your round of tasting, feel free to stop by the Mill’s snack shop where you can purchase fall-themed delights such as mac-n-cheese, sausage and sauerkraut, rich soups in bread bowls or one of their famous apple cider slushies.
Visit the Upstairs Museum: The renovation didn’t just bring better lighting to the store, it also brought a charming miniature museum to the second story. Read more about the evolution of apple parers and the cider-making process.
Gift Shop: Accompanying the mini-museum on the second floor is the Mill’s gift shop, a quaint country-style selection of seasonal décor. The store offers décor for most holidays, including St. Patrick’s Day and Halloween, and offers the most in regard to Christmas.
Feed the Fowl: Grab a handful of feed out of the dispenser for a meager .25 cents and enjoy feeding a diverse grouping of ducks, geese and chickens.
- Arrive early: The mill is very busy, especially during the Fall season. Arrive in the morning to avoid traffic and having to wait in line outside.
- Side note: Consider attending during the off-season.
- Set up a rewards card: Unlike other stores that charge you for membership or act as a credit card, the Fly Creek card does nothing but reward you for your purchases. You earn points for your purchases (which never expire by the way) and after having spent a designated amount, you will receive a $25.00 gift card in the mail!
- Bring a Cooler: This way, if you purchase dips, cheeses or other refrigerated items, you won’t feel rushed to get home.
- Don’t forget your free tote: If you spend $50.00 or more (which frankly, isn’t difficult to do) you receive a free tote with your purchase. Make sure you grab one on your way out, located by the registers.
I’ve been waiting for a new series idea to come to me for a long time. Probably one of the most challenging aspects about being an artist is finding inspiration. In fact, part of the reason I started this blog was to inspire myself and others by sharing creations and inspiring places, media and recipes.
Recently, Andy and I were watching “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.” Although probably my least favorite installation in the series, I have always been inspired by the scene that showcases the DA (Dumbledore’s Army) learning how to cast a Patronus charm.
The spell that has come to the forefront of all Harry Potter witchcraft, the Patronus charm defends again dementors and for every witch or wizard, takes the form of a different animal.
Thinking about partonuses and spirit animals, I landed upon the idea of creating a series of mixed media pieces, featuring different ghostly animals. Whether the animals are ghosts or the result of magic, I cannot say. All I know is the vision that I have.
Right now, that vision entails white, ethereal animals painted onto fabric and embossed with embroidery. I hope to machine embroider white wisps of thread trailing from the animals. The first animal is a fox, as I have always loved these animals and thought that, were I to have a spirit animal, it would probably be some species of fox.
Although I started this piece a while ago, I am just now ready to proceed into the embroidery phase. Painting onto untreated cotton, I needed to put down numerous layers of paint before I was able to achieve the opacity I was looking for.
I’m looking forward to embroidering, as I know that will pull the piece together, adding details and movement to the composition.
Stay tuned for the final result!
When you are a New Yorker, attending the Great New York State Fair in Syracuse, NY is a near-obligatory yearly outing. A celebration of agriculture, food, music and all things New York, there are a few sights and eats that you won’t want to miss.
- The Butter Sculpture: What has grown to be one of the most well-known and revered traditions of the NYS Fair, the annual butter sculpture is always an impressive feat. The 2016 sculpture is Olympic themed, supporting Team USA through the depiction of three athletic figures.
2.Wine Slushies: If you like wine, then you will like wine slushies. Don’t worry about missing this fair-eat as there are at least 10 different vendors that offer this summer delicacy. Find several at the Taste NY Wine, Beer & Spirits Village.
3. NYS Animals: From Peacocks to Angora rabbits, the various barns provide much in regard to local agriculture and domestic animals. For those New Yorkers that don’t have the pleasure of living in the country, this can be a great learning experience and, also, an excuse to gawk at baby pigs…
4. Fried Dough: A fair wouldn’t be a fair without fried dough. You can find this summer treat practically anywhere you look at the NYS celebration.
5. History of the Great New York State Fair Exhibit: Located adjacent to the Dairy Cow building, this exhibit provides an interesting and well-designed history of the event, including information on previous locations and famous fairgoers. There are also replicas of past butter sculptures and 2016 fair model, a three dimensional map for those who may need extra help finding their way around.
- Rides (Ferris wheel, rollercoaster, etc.)
- The Iroquois Village
- Toyota Coliseum
- DEC aquarium
- Science and Industry Building
- Infinite amounts of delicious foods
The fair lasts until September 5 so be sure to catch it before it disappears for another year!
Exactly one year ago today I made the decision to start a blog dedicated to the idea of creativity and the power of inspiration. With this blog, I hoped to foster a creative entity that would break through the boundaries that so often segregate art, craft, cooking, writing and the many other ventures sought after by “creative types.” Three hundred and sixty-five days later, I couldn’t be happier with the result.
Thank you to everyone who has read this site during the past year. I’m grateful to every single one of you, the dedicated weekly readers as well as the occasional browsers. I can only hope that within the past year I have entertained and inspired you, whether it has been through my tips on creating hand embroidery patterns, my numerous pop-culture inspired drawings, my various book reviews or my favorite Christmas cookie recipes .
I look forward to commencing this site’s second year, anxious for the projects to come and driven by the mantra perpetually create.
–Emilee J. Smith