Thursday, December 08, 2016

shop update!

Hey Friends! I've got some new goodies in the shop! A batch of pottery (on sale) and a batch of messy pouches.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

shading a coloring page: tips and tricks

Last week I launched my new coloring book- Feminine WildThis is a 25 page self published coloring book that I collaborated on with my crazy talented husband Andy. About 6 months ago, we had the idea to create a coloring book that made use of our individual talents! Andy is a master at drawing portraits and I love drawing pattern so we began working on a coloring book completely dedicated to women- all kinds of bold and beautiful women.

This coloring book lends itself to coloring pattern but we also wanted to do something a little different and create pages that give you the opportunity to play with shading faces. Today I asked Andy to share some simple tips and trick for shading faces with pencils.

There is no rule that says you always have to use color on a coloring page. In fact, using a lead pencil is a really great way to practice shading.

Shading a face is all about bringing depth and dimension to a flat line drawing. I like to begin by adding light areas of shading to the places on the face that typically have contour or shadows- the top of the forehead, cheek bones, above and under the eyes and under the nose.

This process starts very light which means I put very little pressure on my pencil as I shade.

To gradient shade, I move my pencil back and forth on the paper going from dark to light by applying pressure for the dark areas and light pressure for the lighter areas. My goal is to create a shade that flows smoothly together from dark to light. 

After I have those light areas, I begin to go back over them with gradient shading. Gradient shading is probably one of the most common ways to shade an object. It is the easiest way to transform a 2-D object into something that has dimension and life.

TIP: If you are using a pencil for gradient shading, different grades of pencils will create different results. For example pencils with a "B" gradient are softer (B-9B) and will create a bold, dark lines. Pencils with "H" gradients are harder (H-9H) and will create light, softer lines.
I continue to layer the shading and get even darker around the forehead, the eyes, cheek bones, under the nose and chin. An easy guide to use for darker shading is to go darker next to the lines on.

TIP: Leaving a sliver of white under or around the lips and eyes give the illusion of dimension.

I continue to layers my shading to my shading until light and dark begin to blend together.

TIPS: Holding your pencil at different angles will result in different results (lighter vs. darker, smooth vs. texture, etc).

Keep the tones of your shading the same by applying the same pressure on your drawing tool.

If you are using a pencil to gradient shade, try blending or smudging the lead on paper with your finger or a blending tool (blending stump).

Using colored pencils to shade a face is the same concept as using a lead pencil except you have the ability to layer color. I like to start by selecting my color palette.

TIP: When selecting colors, make sure to grab different shades of a color- this will enable you to achieve the illusion of depth and dimension.

Next, I begin with the eyes. I start by selecting the darker shade of color (in this case green) and then go back over it with a lighter shade of green and then back over it again with white. This give the illusion of depth.

Then I move on to eyes brows- again I start with the darker color and then add lighter color over the top.

For the lips I start with a dark color and then add white highlights over the top.

When it comes to shading the face, I use the same technique that I used with my lead pencil. I start with the darkest color (in this case dark brown) and lightly shade the areas that have more contour or shadow.

Next I begin to gradient shade with a lighter color over the the entire face- using more pressure around the areas where I want it darker.

I switch back and forth between my different shades, adding areas of darker color over the top of light areas and lighter color over the top of darker areas.

Last, I like to use a blending pencil to go over the top of everything. The blending pencil enables you to soften hard edges and blend different shades of color together. 

Monday, December 05, 2016

5 fast ways to paint a glass ornament

One my favorite things to make and give or to use in my own holiday decorating is painted glass ornaments. I have been painting glass ornaments for years- I even spent a good amount of time selling custom ornaments. And what I learned is all kinds of fast techniques that can be used to customize glass ornaments. So today I am sharing 5 fast ways to paint a glass ornament.

There are all kinds of glass and even plastic ornaments that come in a variety of shapes and sizes.
I always start with a base coat of white acrylic paint. This white base makes the layers of color that come next more vibrant.

Using text it a fun way to personalize an ornament. Use inspiring words, quotes, song lyrics or even names! 

Colorful flowers are my favorite subject matter and look great of the surface of an ornament!

3-D paint is one of my favorite ways to add embellishments to an ornament.
Messy layers of paint are a great way to create a colorful and unique holiday ornament!

Repeating simple shapes is a fast and easy way to create pattern on the surface.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

in the studio with alexis drolet

Hi! My name is Alexis, the artist behind the Etsy shop “Dashes of Happiness,” where I make and sell colorful abstract art with motivational and inspiring hand lettering.  I’m a 35 years old, living in the suburbs outside of Philadelphia, PA with my amazing husband and two daughters, ages 8 and 10. I’m actually not one of those people who always dreamed of being an artist. In fact, this is something that I never saw coming. I took my first art class at age 30, after spending basically my entire life telling people, “I don’t know how to draw,” without ever once attempting to learn how to draw. One day it just sort of clicked that all of the skills that I silently wished I possessed, were things that I had never even given myself a chance to learn. So I swallowed my pride, and found a local beginner’s art class. Once I got over the initial anxiety of doing something so outside of my comfort zone, I absolutely fell in love with it.  I think I always had all of this art inside of me, I just never knew how to get it out. And I’ve found that the more that I learn and the more that I create, the more inspired I feel. It really is like stoking to a fire.  

I love seeing how other artists set up their creative space. Can you tell us a little bit your studio?

My studio is the spare bedroom at the top of the last set of stairs in our funky split level home. From the first moment that we saw this house, I just knew this would be my creative space someday. I think the exact words that I said to my husband were, “The natural light in here is way too good to waste on a guest room.”  

I share the room with my daughters, and we have always called this room, “The Art Room.”  Several years ago I painted one wall with magnetic chalkboard paint and bought them a bunch of chalk and magnets to continue to encourage them to use this space to create and display their art. Over the past few years I have claimed a little more of the space as my own, and I sometimes I have to erase all of their cute little chalk drawings to use the wall as a photo backdrop for one of my projects, but I still try to let them use this room to make their art as much as I use it to make mine. 

They have a desk along one wall, I have a desk along the other, and we fight over the floor space in the middle. Usually the room is a creative disaster of projects in various stages of completion, with pages of paint drying on every available surface. And since I share it with my girls, there is pretty much always glitter on the floor. But regardless of whether it’s clean or messy, when the afternoon light streams in through the windows, it is pure magic.  
What inspires you? What motivates you to create?

Without a doubt my two daughters are my inspiration, my motivation, and my everything. 

In a broad sense, my work is inspired by them because it’s very colorful and joyful, and almost all of it is stuff that they want to hang in their rooms. Lots of my artwork features positive messaging, and as my girls rapidly approach their teen years, I think more and more about the importance of promoting positive self-worth and self-esteem.  When I’m creating, I always think about what I want them to see every day when they wake up. 

In a literal sense, my world of inspiration is very much a product of our daily life. In the past 10 years as a mom, most of my time has been spent with them- at parks, playgrounds, museums, and the sidelines of sports fields. We are constantly out exploring together, and the colorful images of our daily life sink into the corners of my brain and then eventually spill out through my paintbrush.  I sometimes don’t even know exactly where my inspiration is coming from until I find an old photo, and realize that my latest painting has all of the same colors and movement as something that I photographed on a whim months ago. 

How do you organize your creative schedule?

As an artist I have learned that without deadlines, I pursue perfection to the point of producing nothing.  So, I have been forcing myself to commit to things that I am not necessarily ready to do, in order to get a deadline in front of me. For example, the only way I could actually get myself to hit publish on my website was to enter an art contest that required me to have a website. In the end, it was the contest submission deadline that finally forced me to finish the website. Then I registered to sell at an art show even though I had no inventory to sell and frankly had no idea how to set up a booth once I had my inventory. At that show, I put a notebook out on my table saying “Join my email list,” even though I had absolutely no sort of email system in place.  Once I commit to something, and I know I have to make it happen, I always pull through. I guess it’s called “Fake it until you make it.” 

What is a typical day like for you?

I’ve been selling my art for less than a year, so I honestly feel like a baby that is still trying to learn to walk. For the longest time I just kept adding things to my plate without taking anything off…and that didn’t go very well. So I’m still learning how to actively pursue my art and make it my priority, instead of just trying to fit it into the nooks and crannies of my day.  I find that I have to continually fight back at the self-imposed notion that I have to be everything for everyone all of the time.  

On an ideal day I’m up early before the kids, sometimes early enough to get a little bit of computer work done over a cup of coffee. Once everyone is awake and I’ve successfully completed the lunch making, hair brushing, shoe finding shuffle to get them off to school on time, I try to spend a few hours painting.  My energy and creativity are at their peak in the morning, so I try not to waste that time on household tasks. I tend to chase the natural light around my house, and if I have any projects to be photographed, I’ll drop everything for an hour or so in the early afternoon when the light is warm and perfect in my studio.  
Once 3 pm hits, it’s a flurry of homework, violin practice, dinner making, and getting everyone out the door for sports practice. I rarely work after dinner so that my hubby and I can relax together on the sofa, and then I turn into a pumpkin around 10 pm. I feel like each day is simultaneously a marathon and a sprint. 

What are you working on right now?
Oh, so many things! I’m still learning so much every day, both on the creative end, and on the business end.  It feels like there is a never ending list of skills I would like to learn and things that I should do to help my business grow.  On days when I just want to create, I’ve been painting lots and lots of greeting cards. They truly are my favorite things to make. Each card is like one of my babies, and I have the hardest time letting them go.  But I know that they spread joy to everyone who sends them and receives them, so that motivates me to just keep making more.  
I’m also working with my friend on a handmade jewelry and accessory brand, where we are combining our talents to make wearable art that is super unique as well as empowering.  The best part about being an artist is that it really feels to me like the sky is the limit, and now that I have the skills to get these ideas out of my head, it’s just a matter of finding the time to do it. 

Want to see more of Alexis?

Also you can find updates at
Or on FB and Instagram @AlexisAnneCreative

"In the Studio" is a feature here on the blog where I share a glimpse into friends and fellow artist's and crafter's spaces. If you are interested in submitting your studio to be featured, send me an email at

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

creating with jules: owl ornament

Hey Friends! I am super excited to introduce Jules Madden to you! Jules is an artist, illustrator and maker living in Victoria, Australia with her husband and two crafty girls. She loves color, creativity and connecting with other like minded people. She will be sharing some DIY projects and inspiration in the coming months!

Craft this pretty peaceful owl as a gift or to hang on your own Christmas tree. My two girls have seen me making these and they really want to make some themselves! They really are quite fun to make.

Gather Your Materials:
Air Dry Clay
Acrylic Paints
Fabric Scraps
Mod Podge
Silver Thread
Glitter (optional)

Greylead Pencil
Rolling Tool
Wooden Skewer
Clay Tool (for smoothing)
Click HERE to download owl template at 100%

Print your template PDF image out at 100% and cut it out

Take a piece of your air dry clay and roll it to approximately .5cm (3/16”).

Place your template over the clay and cut around the body shape.

Cut the wings from the paper template and cut them out from a piece of rolled clay around 3mm (1/8”) thickness. 

Reserve your paper template pieces for later

Mark where the hole will go in the top of the ornament and poke with a wooden skewer or similar.

Score the back of the wings and the wings area on the body.

Moisten slightly with water and press together, smoothing out the joins.

Press beads into the soft clay body.

Leave your clay shape overnight, or until dry.

When dry, cut two fabric wings using your paper templates.

Paint Mod Podge onto the clay wings and press the fabric shapes on.

Paint over the top of the fabric with Mod Podge.

Also cover your beads with a layer of Mod Podge, this will help glue them into place when you paint your ornament.

Next, paint your ornament all over with grey paint.

Paint the sides of the ornament as well, not forgetting the inner sides of the wings.

Rub any paint off that got onto the beads with a damp tissue. 

Paint extra little cute spots on your owl with light grey paint.Paint your owl eyes and beak in black and orange. Paint the reverse side of your ornament in a nice color for a professional finish.

Once the paint is all dry, apply a final coat of Mod Podge to the whole ornament. I sprinkled some glitter onto my owls body, as I love a bit of glitter!

Then add a doubled up and tied length of silver thread through the hole, loop it into itself and hang up to enjoy, or gift away! I think these would make great stocking fillers or gifts to teachers :) If my kids can part with them!

I really hope you enjoyed that tutorial. To see some of my other work or to get in touch, visit me at


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