December 2, 2022

Things to do in December (that ISN'T buying stuff!)


As November slips away, the insane month of December rears its head. Insane because everyone seems to be stressed out trying to cram as much buying and selling and making and baking, as much visiting and eating and event attending as possible before the 24th. 

 As an aside, a Black Friday advertisement crossed my socials for a really amazing price on art supplies and I thought, "I need more art supplies! I need to buy this!" Only I didn't. I'm okay for art supplies right now. At some future point, I'll need some paint but until then, I'm fine. Just fine. And it made me realize how caught up and invested we become in the hype to BUY! BUY! BUY! It took me a minute but then I thought, "Chill out, dude. The stores will remain open AFTER the 24th." There will always be more time to buy shit. 

 For the past number of years, I've bought my grandchildren Advent calendars as their gift from us. They are blessed with plenty. They don't lack for anything. The calendars, we try to get some sort of activity (think Lego, puzzles etc) last longer than the half second of ripping off the paper to be tossed with a mounting pile of "stuff" and they are a lovely slow way of counting down, building up, to Christmas Day.

I was thinking about that a few weeks ago, "*I* want a daily thing to do in December!" and sure I could've bought a calendar for myself but I wanted it to be something I could share with Tom. Something that was enjoyable, not based on food and would serve as a lovely slow way of counting down, building up, to Christmas Day. 

So we put our brains together and came up with a daily activity for each day in December, marked it on the calendar and we're going to give it a whirl.

 As I am very much an introvert hermit, we were cogniscent of not slamming things in for the sake of "Doing it". We gave ourselves easy tasks between more involved ones. Some of the activities we were going to do anyway, but we added intentionality to them. In case you'd like to create a lovely slow way of counting down, building up, to Christmas Day, here are some of our ideas:

  •  December 1: Go buy all supplies for our crafts and baking days. 
  •  December 3 & 4: Baking days ... we made a list of the things we'd like to gift people this year, an annual tradition, and decided we could put in a blitz weekend to get most of it down in one sitting. Cue Christmas music! 
  • Every Friday evening in December, we've committed to watching a Holiday movie or show. Must watches in our household: Charlie Brown's Christmas, How the Grinch Stole Christmas - the OG. I voted for Elf. He voted for the new Spirited. And there is room for one super schmaltzy Hallmark one in there too! 
  •  Go out, just the two of us, for a holiday coffee/beverage. We almost never do this, so it'll be a real treat. 
  •  Make a trip to either the city or our town to walk around and look at the lights.
  • Make a craft for our Solstice Tree. (we're making homemade air clay! Here's a recipe!

  •  Take in a Christmas concert. Preferably with choral singing. 
  •  Go for a night woods walk on the December full moon (Wednesday, December 7: The Cold Moon)
  • Have a bonfire. 
  •  We pencilled in our tradition of meeting with friends for lunch. And another with other friends, for a coffee at a local shop. 
  •  Make a "bird tree" and fill it with edible treats for them. Here's a great one!
  • We decorate our Solstice Tree on the day before Solstice and have a tradition of writing down then burning our regrets for 2022, shared or not, on the night itself. After which we come in and dine by candlelight. 
  •  Christmas Eve is our turkey dinner. We take all day to prepare and again, dine by candle light (then all dinners until the Spring Equinox). Candle light is a big part of our winter world. 
  •  Christmas day we've planned a beach walk. 

 I hope this has inspired you to think about how YOU'D like to spend your time at this crazy time of the year. And I wish you a lovely slow count down, build up, to however you celebrate! 

November 25, 2022

10 Tips 'n' Tricks



Who doesn't love a good list? Me! Me! Me! I'm a sucker for'em, happily clicking that link KNOWING it's clickbait... but but but, it's a L I S T

Here are 10 tricks and tips for artmaking that I use all the time, in no particular order:

  1. Brush cleaner: I stash the small bits of soap from the bathroom that are annoying. You know what I'm talking about... not big enough to do the job but too big to chuck out. I keep them in a plastic container in my studio, spritz water on them and eventually they turn into soft soap perfect for cleaning my gel plate. I also smoosh a piece into a scrub disk (just learned they're called paint pucks. who knew?!) that you can buy specifically for the bottom of a water container only I put mine in a dish right beside my water with said sliver of soap. Perfect for getting your brushes squeaky clean.

  2. Mechanical pencils: I use one for writing on my pieces of art, drawing, sketching etc but also with the lead retracted it makes a GREAT mark making tool through paint or oil pastel. Always at the ready!
  3. Parchment paper: SO many good uses for this product outside of the kitchen. I use a sheet over some soaked shop towels as a palette. It keeps acrylic paint from drying out. I also have a few bits right beside where I collage as it's perfect to lay over a glued down bit of paper to really burnish onto the page. The glue doesn't stick to the paper and it can be used for weeks even months.

  4. Bits of paper: I have a little box on my work desk where blank bits of paper reside. I use them to test colours or take off overzealously applied paint on a stamp or starting a paint pen or trying out a verse or mark. These bits then go into my collage box. 

  5. Working photos: The internet has always been a treasure trove for finding photos to use in your work. Copyright, however, is something to be aware of. Cue @owasowfoundphotos from instagram. He offers found photos for free use. And they are magical! 

  6. Cheap Supplies: I know I'm not the only one who trawls the Dollar Store for cheap art supplies. I often find great wood substrates in their craft aisle. You might have to give a good sand, add a cradle or frame but 5-4 1/2"square panels for $2 bucks? Can't beat it. Also think of self-adhesive foam sheets to make built up custom stencils for your gel printing or cheapo brushes for glue applicators. Even craft paint. Perfect for gel printing or patterned stencils for backgrounds. 
  7. Boxes for Collage: Beside my main work area I keep 2 open boxes for collage bits. One, I've labelled SMALLS (have I mentioned? I LOVE my label maker?!?). This is for torn bits that are to big to be chucked but to small to reside in my collage drawer. Think less than 6" long or wide. I use this box when I'm doing a Three Piece collage. Or in my small #dailycollage book. The other is for larger pieces of collage but still smaller than goes in my collage drawer. Think waste paper that I use beside my gel plate...rolled off excess paint, stencil tests etc. If they look cool this is where they end up.

  8. Multiple boards/canvasses: My easel always has a Work In Progress on it not to mention other WIP surfaces around the studio. Whenever I have excess paint from another piece, I slap it onto these waiting surfaces. Over time you get a phenomenal background of disparate colours - a thin coat of gesso tames most - and it really gives an amazing depth to your finished work. This is a cautionary tale, however, as I sometimes go overboard with this tip/technique and never get to the "finishing" stage, so take it as you will.

  9. Tools: My current faves are silicone brushes and wedges. Love. Love. Love. I did buy a set of smaller applicators and I should've known how chintzy they'd be as they're made in China. I keep looking for a small 1/2" one that is better quality. If you know where I can get one? Hook me up wouldya?

  10. Drying Paper/Shop Towels: I hate the amount of waste that my studio produces. I try to separate my garbage. And I've tried NOT using paper or shop towels but sometimes? you just NEED that thin absorbent material. So what I've started doing is straightening out my towels at the end of the day and letting them dry overnight. I've gotten a week out of a paper towel and considerably more out of the shop towels. Bonus: it's reduced my garbage to a monthly bag vs a weekly bag. Is it the best solution? No. But it is a workable solution. 

Have a tip, trick, technique to add? Let me know and I'll start a separate page list. Because... I. LOVE. LISTS!

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