New Wood Slice Ornaments

Hello!  After cutting and drying the bounty of branches in our back yard for the last several months, I have been having a lot of fun painting the resulting wood slices.  Having a basically unlimited number of tiny "canvases" at my disposal has really allowed me the freedom and permission to just pick up a brush and paint whatever design comes to mind.  Since they are so small, it's been easy to do a few in a single sitting, as I have time.

Here are a few of the most recent I've posted for sale in the shop:

Heart Wood Slice Ornament – nordic-inspired, in red, white, and light blue.


Ghost with Spider Wood Slice Ornament – a friendly little ghost with a dangling spider, against a pumpkin-orange background.


Hello Wood Slice Ornament – "hello" has been one of my more popular signs, here it is in an ornament, in a coral, aqua, and cream color palette.


Purple Halloween Monster Wood Slice Ornament – inspired by the purple people eater! 🙂

I have a whole stack of these next to me still ready to go, I'll share as soon as I get them online.  All the designs are free-hand, right out of my head, so they are one-of-a-kind!  Let me know if you have any special requests, I love to hear your creative ideas. 🙂

Gifts, Emotions, and a Chocolate Box

I meant this to be a simple and quick little post about thinking outside the box when it comes to art supplies.  But right around the time I set my daughter up to paint outside, I received this amazing present from my friend in Alaska, so I have to share about that too.


Isn't this the prettiest little work of art ever?  It is exactly what I like.  A little bit of glitter and a little bit of dirt (not to say that this looks like dirt, I just can't think of a more eloquent way to describe the grungy antiquey brown look).  I really like the look of putting things together that seem like opposites, but end up making great art.  Like complimentary colors – exact opposites on the color wheel, but the most complimentary.

I was sitting here ruminating today on how many different emotions I go through on a regular day, every day.  I don't know if it is my life in particular (because we truly are on quite a roller coaster right now), or if this is just the way it is when you're in your 30s.  I dunno.  I woke up (literally) this morning to a violent autistic meltdown, have spent the afternoon feeling very blessed and grateful, with a lot of different things inbetween – and there's still hours left before bedtime!


Anyway, back to the original idea of my post.  My business name is Our Backyard Studio quite literally because almost every time the weather permits, at least one person in our household is creating art outside.  When it is The Girl, I simply lay down a few tarps, put her in some grub clothes, and let her go for it.


I am always trying to think as economically as possible when it comes to art.  I firmly believe that no one's desire or ability to make art should be hampered by concerns over cost of supplies.  There are a lot of wonderful art supplies out there on the market, many of which I have purchased.  But there's also a LOT of alternative supplies that cost little to nothing.


Take this paint palette for example.  It is my favorite!  It is the plastic insert from a box of chocolates.  I was about to throw it away when I realized those little divots are perfect for paint!  They are a little bigger than the white palettes you can get at the art supply store (better for mixing colors, or holding more paint for larger projects), plus there are a ton more on here.  Way to recycle!! 🙂


She is painting a wooden box that a friend gave to me about a billion years ago before we all had children – it was used for gift boxes at Starbucks, and these were extra.  I figure it will make a great shadow box or little display shelf.  She is painting it now as I type, so it'll be interesting to see how it looks when I'm done.  I always let her choose her own paints, and she's working today with red, burgundy, white, glittery silver, lime green, glittery teal, cobalt blue, and lavender.  As always, she was very deliberate in her choosing of her colors, and I just let her go with it.


Look at that great palette!  Have you ever used (or thought of using) random things from around your house in your art?  What kinds of things?

P.S.  I'll leave you with this last image, so characteristic of The Girl.  Wearing her brother's old (OLD) clothes, sunglasses from her super-girly auntie, swim shoes, and a hair-do a friend arranged 3 days ago.


Yep, that's her.

Hand-Painted Mini Sign Blocks

Just in time for the weekend, I’ve posted some new items for sale on my Etsy store, Our Backyard Studio!  Hopefully I have all my i’s dotted and my t’s crossed.  Although I have been selling online for many years, this is my first Etsy site and anything new is super-scary.

Here’s a preview of a few things I’ve put online so far.  I have probably 50 more things to get up there, so I’ll have some work to do over the weekend! 🙂


Storms Don’t Last Forever hand-painted small sign block @ Our Backyard Studio


You Are Stronger Than You Think hand-painted wood sign @ Our Backyard Studio


You Are My Lucky Charm hand-painted decorative plate @ Our Backyard Studios


Surf Life’s Rough Waves hand painted shelf sitter sign @ Our Backyard Studio


What A Wonderful Word, Hello (Crazy People movie quote) shelf sitter plaque @ Our Backyard Studio


Happy Easter Pink Decorative Plate with Grey Bunny @ Our Backyard Studios

Thanks for visiting, have a great weekend! 🙂

Child’s Play


(She is ready to paint!)

One thing I learned in the last couple months is that my girl loves to paint.  I try not to push art on my children – it is more that I encourage creative thinking, and try to provide as many supplies as possible for them to experiment with.  While our boy has been creating for a while (he's almost 8), I only introduced our girl to the wonders of paint this winter (she's 3).  She LOVES it.  Like, far more than I expected.  Apparently she's been watching me for a bit, because I saw her doing things in her first painting session that I always do.  


(I always let The Girl choose her own color palette)

I haven't really taught either child to do anything technical or specific so far, I've mostly just provided the materials, helped prevent permanent staining on clothing or furniture, and otherwise let them go to town.  The Boy leans more toward intricate, controlled, elaborate drawing.  The Girl, on the other hand, is clearly in to passionate, messy, all-over-the-canvas abstract art.  


(This is her art book)

It is fascinating to watch both of them – It has perhaps been my highest form of art education, watching the minds, hearts, and hands of my children as they create.  I have already shared some of this on facebook, I think I'll have to share more of this on my blog as soon as I can get some better photos…..


(This is what her paint palette always looks like after painting session – she usually uses up all the paint she is given)

A New Year


Ring out wild bells to the wild sky,
    The flying cloud, the frosty light:
    The year is dying in the night;
    Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
    Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
    The year is going, let him go;
    Ring out the false, ring in the true.

~Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Some girls get flowers. Others get…


Paste Wax!

I love little spousal gifts, and yesterday I was treated to an oversized, smelly, gooey can of wax-style floor polish.  (And yes, I am happy about this!)  I've been meaning to try it on some of my projects for a while, but hadn't found it yet.  It provides a lovely durable, mostly matte finish especially lovely on wood projects.  Now I just need a wood project to try it on!  I'm only worried about two things – the smell (it is solvent based) and whether or not it will yellow over time.  I'll do some experimenting to find out what I can find out. 

Oh, such fun toys my husband treats me with!


Venturing out today, we travelled up to Smokey Point to visit The Plant Farm.  We have a small list of local nurseries that are our favorites, each with its own unique strong points.  The Plant Farm has fish.  Dozens and dozens of gorgeous Koi.  Armed with a pocket of quarters, Ben keeps himself busy buying fish food to feed the hungry buggers while daddy shops.  There is something incredibly adorable about old fashioned vending machines a child with a fistful of change.  Amazingly, we did not leave with any plants this time, just temporary pots for our blueberries until they have a permanent home in the ground next year.

There's a Michaels very near The Plant Farm, and as I haven't been in one for-EVER, I indulged in a browse.  I even treated myself to a few purchases.

I couldn't pass up a great deal on gesso – I'm low, and this was on clearance.  It could by 937 ml at this price, or I could buy a full gallon for about $3 more.  I shouldn't be running out anytime soon.


I was pleased to see that Michaels' selection of clays has expanded since I'd been there last – they have several I've never seen in person before.  I've been wanting to try La Doll air-dry clay since I first read about it a couple years ago, and although I paid through the nose for it (Michaels is always always more expensive than ordering through an actual fine art supplier, like Dick Blick), I got to take it home today and try it out.

I fell victim to a standing-in-the-waiting-line-offering with this one.  I haven't bought a Somerset Studio magazine in several years – I just don't have the mad money for it – but I noticed that this issue's artist porfolio was on our local Teesha Moore.  We have met her (and her talented husband) several times throughout the years, at various shows and Artfest – they are very personable and fun people, and Teesha's artwork is a feast for the eyes.  Kind of like a buffet at a chinese restaurant – so many wonderful things to devour all in one place, it can be overwhelming.  I likely will get up an hour or two early tomorrow morning so I can enjoy some uninterrupted alone time reading this.


I didn't actually buy this book (I'd already spent more than my share of gift money today), but I did make note of it so I could look it up at the library when I got home.  There are about a bajillion art journalling books out there, but I guess what sparked my interest about this one was that unlike 99.9% of all the others, this one is authored by men.  Flipping through the pages quickly, I didn't actually see what the book was actually about (More technique based vs eye candy?  More introductionary vs geared to those already familiar with the basic concepts?) – I found the artwork itself rather inspirational.  It wasn't necessarily better, it was just different.  More shapes and scribbles and colors and lines, and less flowers and vintage photos and, well, girls.  I just found it to be refreshing enough in the two minutes I glanced through it that I already have it on hold at the library.

It feels good to be even remotely artistic again.  This has been a long and dark and dry spell.

A Snow Day

After working at the store for the last two weeks getting it converted to Christmas, I now find myself faced with several days in what used to be my house, but is now a complete pig sty.  Not only have I not been home (nor Chris, for that matter) to do dishes, laundry, vacuuming, dusting, or general cleaning, we also lost our fridge, so cooking and storing food has just added to the mess.

The morning greeting us with a light snowfall, which of course has inevitably shut down the entire western Washington area.  Chris is giving me a much needed break by working at the store this afternoon for the few customers that will brave the extreme stormy weather for a visit, and I hope to reward him (and me!) with a clean house when he gets home.

Ben has what we call his "Yay" Chart, which is just a simple piece of tag board tacked to the pantry door, with a grid drawn with sharpie.  Eat time he accomplishes some kind of task (puts away toys, is good while out, uses the potty, etc), he can earn a sticker; when he's earned a whole row of stickers, he gets a prize. 

I remember that the other day, Ben volunteered to help me with the dishes, so I have a brilliant idea.

Me: "Ben, would you like to earn extra stickers by helping me around the house?"

Ben: "O-Kay!" (Ben never ever says "Yes."  Just "No" or "O-Kay.")

Me: "We can add a line to your chart for Housework.  Would you like that?"

Ben: "O-Kay!"

Me: "You want to help around the house?  You want to help mama vacuum, and wash dishes, and do laundry?"

Ben: "O-Kay!"

Me: "Ben, do you actually get what I'm saying?  If I asked you if you wanted to jump into a volcano, would you say yes?"

Ben: "Yes."

Yeah, I thought so.