Meet Olivia Opossum, the newest member of the Happy Handmade family. She’s a bit shy. You’d most likely find her hiding in a nearby bush or hanging from an overhead branch. But, if you’re lucky, she might take a liking to you and come out for a snuggle or a good fur brushing.
This Valentine’s Day, whether you have a prince charming (or princess) in your life or not,
remember, there are LOTS of different types of love to celebrate,
and that love can be found in unexpected places…so keep your eyes open and your head held high.
Hope this Valentine’s Day finds you feeling loved.
This Christmas, my best friend gifted me this awesome book:
I have been dying to jump into it with my son, Jhonen, and complete a project a week, not really even for my kids, but for myself! My son likes art projects, but he has a short attention span for it. I have had a near impossible time encouraging him to even hold a pencil, marker or crayon, much less sit and draw or color with me. He has just never been interested before, mostly because I think drawing is hard for him and he is intimidated by it. But the first project in the Art Lab book was contour drawing and I really wanted to try, so I thought, if he wouldn’t draw then at least he could learn what a still life drawing was and he could set up the still life for me to draw.
First, I did a Google search of still life drawings. I showed him what a still life drawing was and how still life drawings often use simple, everyday household objects like fruit, pitchers, or flowers as the subject of the drawing. Then I set up some blocks at varying heights and talked to him about how many artists set up their still life models in a triangular shape with the tallest items towards the middle. I talked to him about shadows and light, foregrounds and backgrounds. Then I let him pull out a big box of action figures and set them up on the blocks however he wanted. He really had fun and kept changing his mind and rearranging them.
I sat down with drawing paper, pastels, Sharpies, and drawing pencils and began drawing (very badly…wow). To my surprise, Jho wanted to draw, too! I let him choose his materials and he sat down and got right to work! He chose a green Sharpie and, after a few tries, he ended up with a very cute symbiotic alien based on the plastic one he had found in the box. He was so proud of himself!
The book suggests that you do a contour drawing every day for a month, so the next day I thought I’d try and build on the previous day’s success. I wanted to make a loaf of apple cinnamon bread with him, as baking is one of our favorite things to do together. As I was setting out the ingredients for the bread, I thought, what better still life than these ingredients. The apples, eggs, salt container, and baking soda box provided varying shapes to try to draw and a perfect way to talk about 2D vs. 3D shapes (rectangles vs. rectangular prisms, circles vs. cylinders and spheres).
Again, he was excited to draw the bread ingredients, but asked for help when he got to the bottles, which he found difficult to draw. Frankly, so do I.
Drawing the ingredients also made him even more excited to bake with them and both the drawings and the bread were fun to make!
This project reminded me that the best outcome of any creation isn’t necessarily the creation itself, but the bond you form with the subject matter your creation explores. I will forever feel close to that silly, green, plastic alien that came from the bottom of Jho’s toy box. That alien is what helped Jho proclaim to his grandma over Skype a couple days ago, “Guess what! I can draw now!”
I don’t think we’ll ever look at that box of toys or that salt container the same way again. Our still life drawings gave those simple, familiar household objects more meaning.
Life is usually anything but still. Sometimes a simple drawing can be just the kind of stillness you need to actually notice your life.
p.s. I also have a particular bond with this apple cinnamon bread, but less for the drawing and more for how yummy and simple it is. I’ll share the recipe with you so you can enjoy it, too. It came from one of my favorite cookbooks, Gooseberry Patch Flavors of Fall, a recipe from Elisabeth MIller of Rocky Mountain, VA, and it makes two loaves.
Apple Cinnamon Loaves
- 4 eggs, beaten
- 1 c. oil
- 3 c. sugar
- 2 c apples, cored, peeled and grated
- 3 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
- 1 t baking soda
- 1 T cinnamon
- 1 t salt
- 3/4 c water
- 1 t vanilla extract
Mix eggs, oil, sugar and apples together; set aside. Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; mix into apple mixture, alternately with water. Add vanilla; blend until smooth. Pour into 2 greased and floured 9″X5″ loaf pans, filling 1/2 to 2/3 full. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour and 15 minutes.