Lessons From Derwent Academy

If you are looking for a place for free art lessons, Derwent Academy offers 6 video online lessons. You just watch the video, complete the assignment, take a photo, or scan your project and upload the picture to Derwent. They view your work, give helpful critique and then unlock the next lesson for you to take. When you complete the lessons, they will mail you a certificate and a tin of Derwent pencils.  I just finished the lessons and Melinda is starting them. You don’t have to have the Derwent brand of materials used in the lessons to be able to do them. I don’t, but I just used what I have on hand. However, I could tell watching the videos that Derwent products are much nicer than the cheap supplies I have and I hope to eventually buy more of their products to use in my art.

Thought I’d show you the projects I turned in. I had fun and learned some things and I encourage you to give it a try.

Pencil Shading SketchPerspectivePencil Point SketchColored Pencil Bird SketchWatercolor treesOil Pastel Cats

Documented Life Project- Week 36

The Documented Life Project challenge for week 36 was simply: “Black and white.”

When I did this post on using leaves for gelli printing, I played around with using just black and white paint. I really liked how some of the prints turned out and thought I would just use one of those for this challenge. In that post I mentioned not throwing away prints that did not turn out quite like you wanted because you could always use parts of those prints for other projects in collage, card making, and so on. So instead of just using one of the prints I liked, I cut parts of leaves out of the prints that did not turn out as well overall. I then collaged those pieces together on card stock. I cut thin strips of black and white paper to frame the seams of the papers in the collage. Because the leaf print pieces came from different gelli prints, it gave a nice variation.

Black White Leaf Collage

I searched “black and white” on Pinterest and came across this black and white photograph. I can’t seem to find the original source, so if you know what it is please let me know so I can credit it.

I used the new white pen I got for the next weeks challenge and did my own version.


Creativity Workshop- Stamp Making

Last week Melinda and I opened up our creative play time to some other ladies who were longing to do something creative. We first read through our Declaration of Creativity to get in the right mindset for creating. Our activity for the evening was making stamps with craft foam. We showed them the basic steps and let them play. Melinda’s sweet baby supervised. We plan to regularly share workshops with others to inspire creativity. Would you like to join us?

Stamp Making Workshop Stamp Making Workshop Stamp Making Workshop

Documented Life Project- Week 35

The art challenge in week 35 of the Documented Life Project was to: “Draw, sketch, paint, doodle a face or cut and alter one from a book or magazine.”

In spite of my desire to keep drawing faces regularly after conquering my mental block (you can read about that here), I let a few weeks go by without drawing one. So I was excited to do this challenge. I chose to draw the face of my granddaughter. DLP-Week-35-J


I searched through Pinterest for a smiling face to draw and came across this beautiful woman from Mai An Hoa’s Flickr.Pinned-Photo

I haven’t drawn many faces and have had a few issues like mom has shared in the past. I drew an eye a few months ago though, so I felt confident that I could at least get that part right. If I look just at my page, I think it looks like it could be a real person. However, when I compare, I am not happy with the nose and mouth. I am proud of myself for trying though. I know that with more practice I could do better next time. This just gives me a place to see my progress as I keep practicing drawing faces. (I also used a regular school pencil to draw this. I recently purchased some actual drawing pencils and realized how much easier drawing can be with the right tools!)DLP-Week-35-M

Documented Life Project- Week 34

Week 34 of the Documented Life Project’s art challenge was: “Fill the page with numbers that relate to your week (4 trips to the grocery store etc.)”

This challenge was not inspiring me with ideas. So I just sat down and started playing with drawing numbers in various shapes and sizes using the ten single digits. It actually turned out to be fun. I didn’t really follow the challenge by making the numbers relate to my week, but in the same way you can make any word with the twenty six letters of the alphabet, I can make any number with the ten single digits.DLP-Week-34-J



Like mom, I was not inspired by this prompt either. This week just happens to be My Princess’ 5th birthday! I used scrapbook paper for the background and the “5.” I bought some new drawing pencils the other day, so I wanted to sketch her face. I didn’t spend a lot of time on it because I wanted it to be a rough, cartoonish girl. Ninja Boy saw it and told me it looked like My Princess, so I felt like it was an acceptable drawing.

Documented Life Project- Week 33

The art challenge for week 33 for the Documented Life Project was to use your “under paper” in a creative way. Under paper refers to the paper you have under your art projects that get the extra paint, spills, splatters, brush, brayer and stamp cleaning, etc.

For my background I took a paper that I had used for rolling off the extra paint from my brayer and texture tools when gelli printing. Using black and white pens I filled the page with practice doodles and sayings related to creativity.DLP-Week-33-J



I used some gelli printing papers that I used up leftover stencil paint on for my page. I cut out the book, chair, and lamp from the paper. I used scrapbook paper and cut outs from magazines for the rest. The girl happened to be holding Uno cards in her hand that I cut out and made her hold the book instead.


Baby Doll Carrier Pattern

Last Christmas, I made baby doll carriers for our two year old granddaughters who love playing with their baby dolls and whose mommies were both having babies in the coming months. I knew that when the babies arrived my daughters would be “wearing” their babies in their Ergo carriers, and the girls would want to do the same with their dolls. The baby doll carriers were a hit. When Songbird was flying back home after Christmas, she was adorable wearing her baby through the airport terminal. For the first outing after Songbird’s baby brother arrived, she proudly wore her baby just like mommy.Just like Mommy Baby Doll CarrierAfter making a few baby doll carriers for gifts, we decided it was time to make the pattern available to others to sew for their little ones to enjoy. You can now purchase our pattern in our Etsy shop!Doll Carrier Pattern InATickle.comLast week we headed over to our local college, College of the Ozarks, to shoot some photos of the kids with their doll carriers. It’s a beautiful place for taking a walk and ended up being a nice field trip experience for the kids. As we were walking, the supervisor of the dairy barn drove by and asked if the kids wanted to see the baby calves. We got to see a baby calf that was only 3 days old. We found out that they feed the calves at 5 am and 5 pm, and they welcome visitors to come help feed the calves their bottles. We plan to make that another field trip soon! Melinda and I both graduated from this college and forget that we have a wealth of field trips available so close to us. If you live nearby, here are some of the things you can do while visiting the campus.Cows at College of the Ozarks

In the lobby of one of the buildings there is a fountain with a huge sculpture of the world with the continents. Ninja Boy liked learning what the continents were as he walked around the world, and Miss Tickles was mesmerized watching the fountain.

Baby Doll Carrier

A new playground built for the new lab school attracted the kids attention.Kids on PlaygroundThe swans at the lake had to come see what the kids had to offer and followed us all around the lake hoping for food.Baby Doll CarrierNinja Boy decided he wanted to model the carrier. After all, he’s seen his dad “wear” each of his siblings when they were babies.My Little Models- Baby Doll Carrier

He’s going to be an awesome daddy someday!Denim Doll Carrier

We hope you’ve enjoyed our photo shoot field trip and are ready to make a baby doll carrier for someone you love. You can purchase it here. And remember your purchase is supporting a great cause– us!

Leaf Gelli Printing

Have you tried gelli plate printing yet? If not, you are missing out on hours of creative fun. Several weeks passed since I played with my homemade gelli plate and I got inspired. I picked several different types of leaves from around my yard to use as my texture tools and started printing. You don’t need a bunch of expensive equipment to participate in gelli plate printing, just make your own plate and use what you have around your house or yard. You don’t even need lots of paint colors– I made several prints last night just using black and white craft paint. Leaves for gelli printingIn case you have been reading our earlier posts about gelli printing and wondered how long the homemade gelli plate will last, I am still using the original plate I made in January. After each session of using the plate, I rinse off any paint stuck to the plate, break up the gelli, and heat it in the microwave for two and a half minutes in the same glass pan that I let it set up in. At first I was putting the pan into the fridge to let the plate set up and then storing it in the fridge until using it again. But lately I have been leaving it on the counter overnight to set up and storing it in my craft room. It still works and looks great. One of these days I plan to make a recipe that will fit in a larger glass pan for bigger prints.

I’ll share with you some of the prints that turned out well. Don’t throw away the prints you don’t like because sometimes one more layer of paint could completely transform your print into something you do like– even at a later date. Or you can use smaller portions of the prints that don’t turn out as well for collage making, scrapbooking, cardmaking and so on. Here are prints made using only black and white paint with the “nature” tools picked from my yard:Leaf Gelli PrintLeaf Gelli PrintLeaf Gelli PrintLeaf Gelli PrintLeaf Gelli PrintLeaf Gelli PrintLeaf Gelli PrintLeaf Gelli PrintI decided I’d had enough black and white and made a few color prints. Leaf Gelli PrintLeaf Gelli PrintLeaf Gelli PrintLeaf Gelli PrintThis last print is the only one where I used a texture tool other than the leaves and stems. You can see the netting texture (which was from a bag of oranges) at the lower part of the picture. Also take note that I printed the colors on top of a black and white print that wasn’t working well for me. It adds nice undertones to the print. Gelli printing is all play and experimenting. Trust me, you won’t be able to do the same thing twice. Each print turns out different even if you try to duplicate and that is where the creative fun comes in.

Are you ready to try gelli printing yet? Make a plate and start reading through our First Day of Gelli Printing posts. Have fun!

Documented Life Project- Week 32

The Documented Life Project challenge for week 32 was to “Incorporate a Fortune from a Fortune Cookie.”

I had not been to a restaurant that served fortune cookies for a long time and had no plans to the week of this challenge. Instead, I bought a small box of fortune cookies at the grocery store and had a whole pile of fortunes. Since I want to practice sketching skills, a pile of fortune cookies looked like a good opportunity for sketching shapes and shadows. I cut out the sketch and glued it to black paper for a border. The fortunes from the cookies were glued to black background paper and I wrote more fortunes across the background with a white pen.DLP-Week-32-JMelinda:

I was looking through my scrapbook papers for a different project and found one covered in fortune cookies and fortunes. I cut out the fortunes to use for my page. I started looking through google images for Chinese things to give me some inspiration. I saw a lot of bowls, so I used some gelli printed paper and cut out and decorated a bowl shape. I started laying out the fortune papers and they made me think of steam rising from the bowl (though they are more like fat noodles being dropped into the bowl). I cut out thin black strips of paper to be chop sticks.