Railbirds Paint-by-Numbers

In January, I stopped by a shop to find a puzzle. The employee suggested checking out their paint-by-numbers, which I did. My gramma always had them laying around when I was growing up so it reminded me of her. Why not? I’ve never really painted, but 2017 was to be a year of artistic creation, was it not? I did not really like any of the designs, but I settled on Railbirds.

Had I read reviews about it online first, I would have known about this issue, but my voice can be added to many others. First, the numbers in the chart do not match the numbers on the canvas. Second, there are two #10s and no #58 paint pot. And third, perhaps because it is part of their “artist collection”, the finished painting (particularly the birds) would just look like color blobs if you didn’t essentially toss out the concept of painting by numbers; maybe it is designed for people who want to paint with a level hard difficulty? (Or maybe that is how all paint-by-numbers are; I have never done one.) Oh, and fourth, some of the paints did not cover well at all, and I struggled covering up the printed lines at times.

I wrote to the company hoping they would send me a #58 paint pot. Instead, though months later, a package arrived in the mail containing two free products! Who knows if I will ever paint-by-numbers again, but it was certainly nice the company wanted to make up for my disappointment. I didn’t think companies did much of that anymore.

I began painting by following the numbers, and learned quickly that I hated painting that way. It made more sense to paint backgrounds and layer foregrounds than trying to go around little details. I completed the sky first, then the wooden fence. It was with that fence that I realized I had to scrap the idea of painting-by-numbers and just paint. Only, I did not know how to paint, so that was a bit of a learning lesson. Apparently, I took to it pretty quickly though. I am pretty proud of the result!

It took me five long months to make (because I also learned that I don’t prefer painting in general) and I gifted it to my mother-in-law who took the Master Naturalist class with me last year and fell in love with birds. That class now has helped me identify what I painted! Some are obvious, of course, like the Blue Jay:

Or the (Northern) Cardinal. But between the two is a Black-capped Chickadee and an American Goldfinch.

And on the other end is a Baltimore Oriole and an Eastern Bluebird.

I imagine the greenery to be grapes, though I have no idea in truth.

For now I have a love/hate relationship with painting. Sometimes it was cool and I felt the pride while working. But most of the time I found it boring and tedious. Yet, at the end, I am very proud of the final piece. I am curious to see how well I could do with an image that isn’t pre-printed on canvas….

Watercolor and acrylics

My sister-in-law brought over some paints and water coloring books recently. Since I was little, I’ve always found watercoloring frustrating. The paper never holds up; the colors never mix right. Needless to say, it is not my forte. But, it is a fun way to pass the time, so I tried my hand at it. These came out of these two books:

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Katie made these. I especially like the splattered look!

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I made these two:

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My favorite were these watercolor feathers. Outside of the lines got rather messy, so I decided to cut them out. Now, they look great on my craft wall!

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She then invited me to a Wine and Canvas event. It was very much like I expected on a cultural level except that it went too fast for me! I thought for sure that three hours would be enough but I was rushed the whole time. That’s ok – I did learn some things and had fun doing it. And I was one of the few in the slower crowd. Here’s what it was suppose to look like:

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And here is me hating on my grass:

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And the final (awful) result, below. I had a smear of blue along the water line, so I made a whale tail (well, I tried to). I was afraid to add birds and I didn’t quite get what she was saying about them, so I just made the little hump birds from childhood. I had more fun doing the little lighthouse and fence posts (which are my favorite) than anything else. I don’t think impressionistic is my style. I got pretty frustrated being rushed at the end (for the clouds) and time ran out so ta-da, I guess. At any rate, it’s hanging at Boy’s office now! I’d do it again, don’t let me fool you:)

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Laundry room finished

Gosh, this happened years ago. But, delayed posts is what you get when you quit blogging to go back to school, eh?

Anyways, I do not have an original before photo. The best I have is this, when the drywall was getting removed.

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Here is the “final” product. We used wood panelling (painted yellow) instead of dry wall so it would be easy to remove in the event we ever needed to (and recently, we did! Our pipes got backed up and the access point to the main drain is that black pipe you can barely see on the left of the image below, behind the sink.). It has pergo white-washed flooring. A remnant counter top, and pre-fab cabinets.

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There was a slight hangup on the light fixture. Literally – the cabinet door either could not open all the way or was forced to stay open and not be shut because of the lightbulb. The attic there is rather tricky, so since the light fixture came with an outlet, we decided to make it easier on ourselves and just install a lamp fixture. Works like a charm.

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I know this isn’t the laundry-room-of-your-dreams, but this is a realistic laundry room, and it is So. Much. Better. than what it was. (Dirty white walls, dryer next to sink next to washer configuration with no counter, and an open shelf.)

dining room remodel

Our kitchen/dining room remodel was such a huge project, but it has come along quite nicely. I realized I never posted what things look like now, so here you go. First, a quick review of its history starting with how it looked just before we moved in:

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And then of course, we went through this total gutting all because I wanted to remove a wall with a window in it…

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We lived with bare walls and hanging lights for quite some time.

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Then, over winter break during my last year at grad school, I just had to do something. So I painted. I was a little nervous at first to put the dark color on top, but I absolutely love it now.

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Finally found some curtains, nice rich brown panels with gauzy vintage-inspired floral panels. remodel_dining_room_after

Unfortunately through all that remodeling, we still get the occasional creepy crawly…

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Anyways, we are not done yet. There still needs to be trim along the walls, doors, and side window. In fact, I set it up so that I could add baten board on the lighter color to give it some architectural detail. There are some other little bits too, but this place is starting to finally feel like home.

crazy quilt displayed

My family (mostly my aunt, but also my mom and grammas) made me a crazy quilt when I graduated highschool. It is one of my most treasured possessions. When I lived at my condo, it was displayed prominently above my couch in the living room. This house, however, does not have a lot of wall space. Almost every wall has a door or window or some such thing (its a very long and narrow house). Sadly, the quilt has sat on my quilt rack in the closet (away from the cats!) for years. But I finally painted our bedroom (it had been mostly patched drywall – very very ugly) and now I could display the quilt again.

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I absolutely love it in the bedroom – every time I wake up, I look at all the patterns and colors until I am actually awake. It is made with fabrics from a lot of my family members (most notably, ties). A few of the blocks sport thoughtful bits, like a miniature version of my prom dress, an embroidered graduation hat with the year I graduated high school, a star, a spider web (I had a tarantula), and musical lady bugs (I played the violin).

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Years later, my aunt got an embroidery machine and she made me a matching pillow. How sweet, to put two little kitties – with blue eyes – on it for us!

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And what is it about cats and ladders?

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painting a striped wall

My craft room has come a long way, just as my crafting skills have. Over the years, I have purged a lot of stuff I had collected, moved out some of the furniture to other rooms, and I wanted to give it a make-over but still keep my awesome striped wall. I was never in love with how it turned out – the pink looked purple in a lot of lighting situations and it constantly irked me. My new favorite color combinations are what you see here on this site: browns, pinks, whites, and peaches. Or salmon? Or coral? Does it matter? I love it. Here are the colors I used (though the white is actually a can of almond white I already had):

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So I set to re-painting. First things first, repaint the wall whatever background color (mine is bamboo, but I did not take a picture of the blank wall).

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Then, haphazardly, tape some stripes. They needn’t be measured, they needn’t be 100% vertical, and they needn’t be parallel in any regard. Paint your first color (mine is almond white) and remove the tape.

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Then, repeat for color number 2. (Mine is cameo appearance).

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Then add the third color (mine is flatland).

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And add the last color (mine is comforting peach). I did not take a final shot of the wall by itself, but you’ll see it when I reveal the new look of my craft room!

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Oh, something I should add – what about those cables? Boy bought me a new tv to replace the one that broke while I was at grad school. He knows I hate cables, and the position of the tv did not allow for furniture for any tv gear (we do not have television stations, but we have a media box, and everything gets plugged into high quality surge protectors around here). He asked me if I wanted him to hide the cables in the wall. Uhm, that’s an option? YES. This was the first time he has done that, but it worked out great and I hope to do it in the future when we re-do the game room. The hole on the top is just above a shelf to hold all the gear. The hole in the middle is behind the tv, to plug everything into that. And the hole on the bottom is just next to the outlet so that everything can get power. I might still paint the shelf white or something, but what to do with that big black tv?

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Keeley is DONE

Soooo long in the making, but I was stoked to finally ship her off to her creator. I’ve posted about her here, here, and here, but here’s the final piece!

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Also, I had a dilemma to solve – how to add her “pow” markings by her fist? I knew my embroidery skills were not up to the task. Then I had an epiphany – I could draw them on the plexiglass that frames her! I tried my favorite over-the-counter pen (Pilot’s Precision V5) and a trusty sharpie, neither having the results I envisioned. Then I dug around my craft room and found black puffy paint. Bingo!

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Keith blogged about her here, and you can see in the first shot that I had trouble getting her in the frame without bunching up the background. But under the right lights, that isn’t noticeable. If I were to do it all over again, I would have a lot more structural planning. For this project, I just jumped right in. I had no plan on the outcome – I was relieved that it fit in a standard record frame, but that was utterly by accident. Without planning for how it would end up, I made due with what I had. And I would totally do this project again – Keeley is one of my favorite things I have ever done!

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And the finale from the last postings…

Project G: Bottled Stars

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When Snapple first came out, i loved the shape of the bottle. I was also into making oragami stars at one of my other sit-around-and-do-nothing-but-get-paid jobs. I simply painted the bottle and filled it to the brim. Don’t ask me why.

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Project H: Link, our favorite hero!

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A gift to my boyfriend. I used an image from the manual of a Zelda game. I think with this one, I had done the grid enlargement technique (draw a grid on the original, and a grid on your canvas, and focus on each square individually to enlarge the image). I painted it with whatever paints i had. Not too shabby.

Project I: A sweet baby dragon

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I used clay and finished it off with glaze. I copied the shape from somewhere but I have not a clue where.

Project J: Sweet gifts

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So i have a romantic side, and what? I made the box from scratch – cut the wood, nailed it together, stained it, added the hinged and metal details. I found a cool jar somewhere with a wooden lid. Each of those oragami stars I think said “i love you” and every note in the box was burnt around the edges, tied with a little string, and said something about him that I loved.

Project K: Sheepcake and Sushi rolls

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For my boyfriends birthday, his sister and I made a sheep cake out of marshmallows, and sushi rolls out of rice crispy treats and fruit rollups. Quite the combination.

Thats it for now! Yay!