Still-Life Painting and Stress-Relief

My grandma’s silver champagne bucket; this was a homework assignment. Still kicking myself for not getting an actual bottle of champagne. I would’ve enjoyed sharing it with Grandma.

My grandma’s silver champagne bucket; this was a homework assignment. Still kicking myself for not getting an actual bottle of champagne. I would’ve enjoyed sharing it with Grandma.

When I was in college, even though I was majoring in animation (yeah, that changed), a still-life painting class was a required course in my first year. It met once a week for six hours and before it even started, I dreaded it. I loved painting landscapes, but I’d never painted a bowl of fruit or a vase of flowers. The idea seemed daunting to my twenty-something self and I had zero interest in a subject matter that I considered boring.

Little did I know that still-life painting class would turn out to be one of my favorite classes ever. Not only did I learn more about what makes good composition and how to use light and color in different ways, but I also learned how to paint reflective surfaces, how to paint transparent glass, how to paint folds in fabric, and how to really handle oil paints (I’d only ever painted with acrylics). But mostly, it was just a fun class. We’d crank up some music (usually Pink Floyd or Bjork) and just paint. That class became a source of stress-relief when other classes, a long commute, and work had me frazzled and feeling overwhelmed.

My second or third attempt at painting wine glasses. I loved how they turned out but didn’t love the pink fabric. I’m pretty sure this painting is sitting in a box somewhere in my house.

My second or third attempt at painting wine glasses. I loved how they turned out but didn’t love the pink fabric. I’m pretty sure this painting is sitting in a box somewhere in my house.

A couple of canvases went to my grandma (whom I lived with when finishing college and would often call dibs on canvases before I was even finished with them), one painting of fruit and a silver kettle went to my future-mother-in-law (I should take a photo of it), and I even managed to sell two 5x7 canvases from my job at a picture framing store.

One of the 5x7 paintings I actually sold, eggplant, Bosch pear, and grapes in an extravagant frame. Sometimes it was fun to get to play with scrap pieces of moulding.

One of the 5x7 paintings I actually sold, eggplant, Bosch pear, and grapes in an extravagant frame. Sometimes it was fun to get to play with scrap pieces of moulding.

The other little canvas I sold, this one was my favorite with the little silver pitcher and pomegranate. I’m a little sad I don’t have them anymore, or at least have a higher quality photo, but I needed the money at the time.

The other little canvas I sold, this one was my favorite with the little silver pitcher and pomegranate. I’m a little sad I don’t have them anymore, or at least have a higher quality photo, but I needed the money at the time.

Quite a few canvases were garbage too and I will eventually paint over them, or let my son paint over them. But this painting was my favorite with the copper kettle and brass bowl. It currently sits on my dresser and though I don’t love the frame, looking at it brings me back to that still-life class and the peace it brought me each week.

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It’s been probably fifteen years since I painted with oils and the idea of starting up again with small children just seemed daunting. My 3rd grader has recently shown some interest, so I ordered some student-grade oil paints. Thankfully, I have a few unfinished canvases that we can doodle on and we’ll see what sparks us to put on canvas.

School Valentines, 2016-2019

We don’t do much to celebrate Valentine’s Day in our family. It’s just not a holiday we celebrate; even back when my husband and I were dating.

With our boys in school now, Valentine’s Day is back on our radar and every year I fully expect my boys to want store-bought, character valentines. It’s been a few years now and they’ve surprised me with wanting something custom-made by their mom. I’m not sure whether to feel used or that I set myself up for it.

The year my oldest was in kindergarten, we missed his party because he only attended school three days a week, and the Valentine’s Day party fell on a day he didn’t attend. I thought I was off the hook with valentines until he went back to school after the weekend and a box of Valentines and treats was waiting for him from his classmates. I felt like a stellar parent.

The next year I knew he would have been happy with character Valentines from Target, but I wanted to do something fun and non-edible since there were a couple of kids in his class with scary allergies. We already had a bunch of bacon bandaids, so I made this little card and printed them onto card stock, then added the bandaid with double-sided tape.

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The following year, my oldest set his expectations high with something fun again and considering the sheer amount of candy he got the year before, I wanted to try and avoid food again. So we went with hand warmers! I took his photo and played with it in an iPhone app called PicsArt. Then I added the background and text in Adobe Illustrator. We stuffed the card and a hand warmer into a some 4-bar envelopes I had left over from a baby shower and done!

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Last year (2018), both kids were now in school and my oldest wanted to use PicsArt again to make some fun photos. I asked both boys to put on a red shirt and they chose the same Manchester United jersey. Then we made their cards with PicsArt, a little Illustrator, and we taped mechanical pencils and Dove chocolate hearts to their cards.

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This year, I was feeling very meh about Valentine’s Day and was all set to hit up Walmart and see what boxed valentines they had left 3 days before their school parties. Then my oldest asked what fun Valentines we were going to make this year and if we could go look on Pinterest for ideas. I couldn’t say no. We searched for non-candy valentines and saw a couple of baggies of Goldfish crackers with a fun, fishing-themed greeting. That was the winner! My boys (especially my oldest) are WAY into fishing right now.

Here’s what we made:

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We already had a box of Ziplock snack-size baggies that we weren’t using much (they’re so small!), so we bought a few big boxes of Goldfish Crackers filled enough for both classes. Then I took photos of each of my kids in good light and re-drew them in Adobe Illustrator, added the cartoon-y fisherman bodies, a less-then-thrilled fish, and Voile! The “Hooked on You” graphic is on one side and the “Fishing you…” graphic is on the other. The only difference is the names and different heads, of course.

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I saved some time (because I created these 2 days before the parties) and had everything printed onto 8.5x11 card stock at my local Office Depot. I trimmed the pages, scored, and then stapled them onto the baggies that my boys filled. I really love how they turned out…. so much that I may add them to my Etsy shop next year that others can customize.

I know there are only a few years where we’ll get to make Valentines for school. I’m pretty sure they stop around middle school. Whether you celebrate or not, have a Happy Valentine’s Day!

Hike it Baby Artist Series Stickers

I started doing design work for Hike it Baby a little more than a year ago, and it’s been SO much fun to create whatever I can for them.

Every year they host hiking challenges that encourage families to get outside with their kids. Up until 2018, they had quarterly challenges in January, April, September, and November, and the goal is to hike 30 miles in 30 days or spend 30 minutes outside three times each week. Participants can log their miles or time on the Hike it Baby website, they’re entered into drawings to win awesome prizes from sponsors, and they get to join in a Facebook group solely for participants of each challenge where we share photos from our hikes and encourage each other to keep getting outside. We get to see some pretty epic photos from hikes in the Rockies, the Appalachians, the Oregon coast, the mountains in Alaska, and even some great hikes in Japan. It’s an inspiring group to be a part of for those 30 days.

Everyone who registers for a Hike it Baby 30 challenge also gets a sticker to commemorate. In the past stickers have always been a solid color with a fun little graphic. The color and design is different each challenge and participants love to collect them. I had the privilege of designing two of them from 2017; the brown sticker with the foxes and the navy blue sticker with the buck and fawn.

For 2018, the folks at Hike it Baby decided to up the ante on the Hike it Baby 30 stickers and they asked me to do a landscape watercolor painting for the four challenges; each representing the season and a different landscape in the Hike it Baby world.

I was so pleased with how these turned out in sticker form.

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January Challenge (I have a better photo of this one somewhere on my computer!)

April Challenge

April Challenge

September Challenge

September Challenge

November Challenge

November Challenge

Three of these designs made for great t-shirt designs too.

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More than a few people have joked that we can’t possibly go back to the older style anymore, so we’re brainstorming ideas for 2019. We shall see how it turns out!

First Day of School Signs - 2018

I was thrilled to get to create a bunch of First Day of School signs for so many awesome kids this year. First Day of School signs are available in my Etsy shop in the summer months through the end of September. They also can be ordered by sending me an email if you’d prefer to not go through Etsy. I customize the text using your child’s information and their favorite colors. Then you print the sign yourself.

Here’s a sampling of this year’s kids with their signs:

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Here are my two boys this year. I wonder how many years they’ll let me keep doing this??

First Day of School Sign

There will be three different font styles to choose from when they are available. The backgrounds look like a faux chalkboard and they’re set to print on 8.5x11 paper. If you want it to look more like an actual chalkboard, you can trim off the white edge and/or print onto thicker card stock. Or your can back it with a piece of cardboard. The colors print most vibrant on glossy paper, but then you have a potential glare when taking a photo. It looks more like a real chalkboard when printed on matte paper. The choice is yours.

If you live in a country where A4 paper is the norm, just let me know and I can send it at that size.

Happy First Day!!

Emily & Shane's Honeymoon Suite

Emily and Shane got hitched last December with a fun, bicycle-themed wedding. You can see the invitations and signs from their wedding right here

Now that they're enjoying married life, they set off for a summer of adventures in their new camper. To put a custom twist on their camper, I designed a decal that used a similar bicycle as the one from their wedding invitations. They had two printed and put on their camper. I LOVE how it turned out! 

Emily & Shane, Custom Decal
Emily & Shane, Custom Decal

Congrats again Shane and Emily and I hope your summer adventure was fantastic!

Hike it Baby T-shirts

After my youngest son was born in 2014, I finally had the motivation to explore some of the fantastic hiking close to where I live outside of Salt Lake City. With my husband working and my oldest in school during the day, I didn’t want to hike by myself and many of the trails local to us get pretty crowded on weekends. My husband isn’t a huge fan of hiking either, but he comes sometimes when our oldest asks really nicely (or begs).

I also have a love for babywearing, so when I saw a post in my local babywearing Facebook group about an organized hike where babywearing was encouraged, I jumped on the chance to join and see what it was all about. And I discovered Hike It Baby.

June 2015, Albion Basin, Alta, UT. He was so little!!

June 2015, Albion Basin, Alta, UT. He was so little!!

Hike It Baby was created a couple of years ago by a mama named Shanti in Portland, OR who had the simple desire to get outside after having her son. She didn’t want to hike alone and wasn’t quite ready for jogging or long bike rides and she didn’t want to juggle finding a sitter so she could join a gym. She invited friends to hike with her and word began to spread. Now she inspires and encourages families to get outside and explore with their kids, all over the country.

Through social media, families can hike together, make new friends and encourage and support each other. It doesn’t matter if you’re an experienced hiker or a beginner, they all have your back and no hiker is left behind. Local chapters are led by volunteers and, best of all, hiking is usually free!

From my first Hike it Baby hike! Bells Canyon, UT.

From my first Hike it Baby hike! Bells Canyon, UT.

About a year ago, Hike it Baby held a design contest for a new t-shirt design. I entered and won! My t-shirt was made and sold to Hike it Baby members. Even my dad bought one. This was the design:

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Shortly after, Shanti contacted me about designing a couple more t-shirts for various fundraising campaigns. Here's what we made:

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My oldest has the Earth Day shirt and he still proudly wears it.

Provo River Falls, Kamas, UT

Provo River Falls, Kamas, UT

Cut to now, I'm thrilled to work for Hike it Baby, providing as much as they need when it comes to graphics, whether it's a t-shirt, a sticker, social media graphics and more. These are some of the more recent t-shirts I've done for Hike it Baby:

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This t-shirt with the moon and mountains was sold during the January 2018 Hike it Baby 30 challenge. There will be new t-shirts for the April, September, and November challenges this year too. 

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AMYS Martial Arts Tees

Both of my boys are taekwondo students at AMYS Martial Arts in Utah and we LOVE it (someday I just might become a student). I do some design work for them, including designing t-shirts when needed. 2017 is the 7th year in a row they've been Utah State Champions and I've had the privilege of creating t-shirts for the last few years to celebrate. 

For 2017, they decided to have two colors printed... for the folks who baby don't want to wear gold (like me!). 

In addition to the above t-shirts, I also created this fun ninja t-shirt that both kids and adults enjoy wearing. They printed it on both red and royal blue t-shirts.

Years back, someone created a little somewhat-Anime-style character for the studio. I redrew it, made some changes, and gave the little guy some new poses. I also created a girl version, a ninja version (below), Ninja Santa, Ninja Easter Bunny, Ninja Valentine, and more depending on the event or holiday. My oldest son loves to wear his Ninja in Training t-shirt.

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If you live in Salt Lake or Utah county, I HIGHLY recommend checking out AMYS Martial Arts for your family. They have studios in Draper and Orem and lots of options for class times and days, including Saturdays. Classes start for kids as young as age 2 all the way up to adults, and ALL skill levels and athletic abilities are welcome. Students work on tumbling, flexibility, and strength training, along with taekwondo discipline. There's a lot of focus on building a strong character both inside and outside the studio. My son has to have his room clean and his teacher has to sign off when he's testing for a new belt. He's had to learn his phone number and address, anti-bullying strategies, and how to count in Korean. They offer week-long summer camps, an after school program, a monthly Parent's Night Out, and seasonal picnics and parties. Seriously worth checking out!

Notre Dame Irish Knight Band T-shirt

A few years ago, I created a t-shirt for the marching band from Notre Dame High School in Northridge, CA. A friend of mine, Linsdey and her husband, Chris both attended this high school and were still involved with their marching band. They were traveling to Dublin, Ireland for a school trip and wanted a t-shirt to commemorate. 

I researched different Irish and Celtic designs to come up with the finished product. I wasn't able to get one of the actual shirts to photograph, so I made this mockup.

I'm really happy with how it turned out, especially with the design going over the shoulder. 

I hope the trip was amazing! Thanks!