All the Summer Vibes // hiking, writing, reading, and that glorious sunburn

I’m a very crafty person.

No, no. Not that kind of crafty.

Despite what gossip my character have been spreading, I am not a crafty villain scheming up plans of horror and pain. Maybe.

I mean ‘crafty’ as in, I like to take little string and sit for a couple hours looping it on sticks to try to make hats and scarves.

However, during the school year with school. And school. And more school. I only have time for sitting and translating Latin sentences and learning that the Romans defeated the Gauls.

Again.

And again.

And again.

Oh and that the sailors refuse to pray.

So when I finally finished that last math test and ‘summer’ was here, I pulled out my supplies and dove into the world of waking earlier, living at my desk in the basement, and having my family point out the paint stains on my hands I had missed or the bits of thread I had forgotten to brush off my shirt.

Here’s what I’ve been up to:

cause I am obsessed with bullet points

#1. Quilting

I’ve always been interested in quilting, but it wasn’t until a couple years ago I made my first quilt.

Okay, actually it was about five years ago and it was so tiny my doll would even have trouble using it.

Not that she got the chance because I didn’t finish that quilt until two months ago when I pulled it out again.

In the meantime, somewhere in the past five years I did patriciate in a crazy quilt day workshop and came out with a finished mini quilt, but, while I learned a lot, in the end, it was still mini.

Well after pulling the first quilt out and finishing the binding at the beginning of this summer, I took in the stack of scrap fabric in our craft closest and the bundle of batting and, remembering a book I had once read at the library, decided to try my hand at making a bigger quilt.

I picked the Log Cabin pattern, because I really loved the examples in the book and it seemed perfect for left-over fabric, since really all I needed was two-inch wide strips.

Originally I sorted out these little stacks of fabric: one blue themed, one pink themed, brown, green, yellow, etc., thinking I might be able to squeeze out three or four squares out of each.

Out of the blue stack of fabric, I was able to make twenty 11 inch(ish) squares: perfect for a baby blanket size.

Shows you how much I know about estimating.

I’m that person who always scoops left-over food in a container that is way too big.

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setting out the squares

I sewed the squares over three days, trimmed them and pieced them together another, and then, after a trip to Hobby Lobby to buy some backing and edging, began the actual quilting process (which I should hopefully finish today.)

It was a lot of fun piecing together, and I’m starting to now eye the stack of pink fabric in the closet. (:

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When the back of your stitching creates a perfect treble clef! O.o

#2. Jewelry Making

I began making earrings about a year ago when my sister and a friend organized a craft day at our house.

They’re really fun and fairly easy to make. The hardest part is looping the wire. Especially since I was trying to use the wrong kind of pliers to do it.

Imagine my joy when my grandmother gave me the right type (and more beads!)

To illustrate the immediate affect:

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They’re amazing, thank you GranAnnie! ❤

So I’ve been making tons of earrings lately.

My homeschool co-op community has a craft fair each December so I’ll probably bring my growing stash of earrings.

Or I might decide to keep them all muahahaha

If only I had more ears. 😉

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owls! and everyone goes “awww”

It’s really cool being able to make things that I know will be used. Gone are the days of braiding hundreds of random strands of rainbow colored craft yarn I found.

It’s doubly neat to be able to make those things I’ve always wanted. Whatever style of earrings such as ones with beads partially wrapped in wire.

Then last week my mother was out running errands when she noticed a small artisan shop in our downtown that is opened only a couple times a month.

She stopped and looked around and decided to take me that afternoon for inspiration and ideas.

Such as quilled paper earrings:

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setting them out to dry

 

#3. Writing

Yes!

Despite what this post has so far implied I have been writing this summer. I’ve been continuing my attempts to capture everyday, little things in a fresh new way, and have been plowing away at 51 usually late in the evening or early in the morning. I’ve found over the past year that those are the most productive times for me.

When people ask whether I’m a night owl or morning bird, me: “Um…both?”

Who said owls aren’t birds… 😉

51 has been going well though.

A week or so a writing friend mentioned during a conversation about names how they once read somewhere about a writer using elephant in all caps as a place holder in the rough draft stage.

So of course I had to steal borrow the idea.

 

ELEPHANT in the Room

 

Who knew Zeb had such big pockets?

Or that he was that strong. 😉

As a technical update: 51 is at 21,651 words and maybe through one fourth of the story written.

The good news is, I have the ending planned! and written shh don’t tell anyone.

Now I just have to fill in the rest of the middle… 😛

 

#4. Reading

I’ve been reading a nice amount of books too. A lot of revisiting for old favorites, but also some new ones.

Current book I’m reading?

The Mollhill, Vol 3!

It’s my first one to read and I’m really enjoying it.

Basically, for those who don’t know, it’s a collection of poetry, art, essays, stories, and recipes from The Rabbit Room, a community of Christian artists.

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Also! I was forced to join joined a local book club started by a writer-friend.

The first get-together that I have been able to attend yet will be tomorrow. Book for that meeting?

The Book Thief!

I’m excited. (:

#5. Hiking & Swimming

 

Summer did not feel truly feel like summer until last week when we finally went swimming.

It had been a full year for me because of the craziness of moving and settling in and life.

But after spending a day splashing in the sun, and I came home and collapsed on my floor, limbs aching and with raisins for fingers, and my shoulder burning with the most glorious sunburn, it was suddenly summer.

I had never realized how nostalgic that feeling is…

I’ve also gone on a couple hiking trips. The most notable one was with my Dad a couple Saturdays ago. We packed some water, books, and hammocks and hiked up to a private little overlook. There we spent a couple hours swinging lazily in a mossy clearing, swatting flies, and (for me) reading Canterbury Tales.

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When I said it was mossy, I meant it was mossy.

This gorgeous clearing gave an entirely new meaning to the common phrase “the forest was carpeted with moss.”

 

#6. Sketching and Painting

And one of the other things I’ve been doing quite a lot is experimenting with is mixing ink sketching with watercolor.

As you can see, I’ve only been doing little simple projects of things I’m familiar with. (i.e. plants, elephants, and my school drawers)

And finally…

#7. Prepping for school

And here we are at the end.

My first day of class with my weekly homeschool co-op is three weeks away, so I’ve pulled out the brick of biology flashcards, put tabs in my math book, and sped up in my reading of the literature books I will be writing papers on through the year. (Right now it’s Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. And I thought the first part of the book was weird…)

I’m surprising excited for the school year as a whole. This year focuses on British literature, I’ll be studying paintings, music, and art in general, more Team Policy debates, and more Algebra and Trigonometry.

 

Which finally brings me to a quick note about one last thing that’s been going on around here: my brother’s wedding!

I am suuuper excited about my (soon-to-be) new sister! She is just soooo amazing and fun! And just… well I probably could write another five paragraphs about it but I better not. (:

I must say it’s weird growing up though. (Any one else agree out there? *raises hand* Anyone?)

Well, because of this joyous occasion of amazingness but also the busyness that comes with it (did I mention it will be held in our backyard?), I am not going to promise a post next Friday.

Maybe I’ll throw out a poem or something, but we’ll see. (:

What time of day is best for writing for you? How has your summer been? Are you prepping for school yet? What will you be studying?

~ evelyn ~

 

7 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Painting {aka what I have learned in the last couple months}

It all started with Shakespeare.

I know, I know.

It’s a strange place to start but that’s where it all began.

For almost five years I had not touched my painting supplies, partly out of fear and partly out of busyness, but in March my co-op class was studying The Taming of the Shrew, and were assigned to pick a topic of interest of the Elizabethan era and report back on it with physical props.

Cue the brainstorming.

Originally, I thought I might study the fashion and show up, with the closest example of an outfit from that time period, but that had been my sister’s choice a few years earlier. Next idea was to write a Shakespearean monologue from the point of Queen Elizabeth and perform it, but I had never even succeeded in writing even just a sonnet, much less an entire monologue. Besides, I had enough things to memorize already.

A third thought was to study Shakespearean embroidery and replicate it, but I wasn’t sure I could finish it in time.

With some more brainstorming, my mom then came up with the idea.

Why not study art from the era and creating a slide-show presentation of Elizabethan paintings?

Cha-ching!

Perfect.

I had (and still have…) this strange (then new-found) obsession with creating PowerPoint slides and I find art very interesting. Put them together?

Just makes sense.

I began researching and making notes, learned so much, and picked out three different pieces.

There. Done.

But wait…

At the next class, my tutor explained this project would be presented in a different room in front of the younger classes, meaning I couldn’t use the projector.

So my mom suggested that I just take one of the paintings I had picked out and reconstruct it.

Except I had never painted with oils before and never ever painted a person.

So yes.

I decided to pick up painting for the first time in about five years and use a medium I had never used before to paint a subject I had never even attempted before under a deadline.

At least Hobby Lobby had all painting supplies half off that week.

…except that deal ended the next day.

So I convinced a sibling to take me and bought the supplies.

Thankfully, the following afternoon when I unpacked my new paints, I decided to mess around with them before starting the project on the canvas.

I pick out a red and squeeze it out of the tube onto my palette. I take the brush and paint a simple rectangle. And then another.

And then I go for a circle.

But the paint won’t spread out right.

I dip my brush in the water and try to thin it.

It doesn’t work.

For at least five minutes, I sat there in growing frustration as my paint refused to move or spread.

It was after I filled have the page with strange shapes, that it finally hit me.

Duh.

Water doesn’t mix with oil.

I call the piece “Ignorance.”

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Isn’t it beautiful? 😛

I guess all those repeated experiments about trying to mix oil and water on a plate as a kid didn’t stick. (Sorry Mom!)

Well, this story has a happy ending: I discovered the substance called “paint thinner” and went on to paint the portrait, and though it doesn’t look much like the original, it definitely looks like an Elizabethan painting.

Over the following months, I have continued to paint and have learned more about it… often learning the hard way.

Here I have compiled a list.

If you have a time-machine, feel free to take this back in time and shove it in my face. 😉

With that, let us begin…


 

#1.  How to take care of tools {especially the brushes}

One thing about my ten-year old painter-self: I had no idea how to keep tidy and clean, whether it be my palette, my easel, my table, my clothes, my brushes or my hands (though to be honest, I don’t care much about that one…)

This was very evident when I finally unpacked my supplies after a couple years of almost-moving.

Exhibit 1:

Oh look at me fine brushes… notice especially the forked blue one.

Gorgeous am I right?

When I was ten, I didn’t know simple rules like, don’t store brushes on their bristles, don’t leave in the jar of water, or even the importance of cleaning them as soon as I’m done with them.

When you have tools, research how to take care of them! Whether it be through Google, a library book, or someone you know, discover proper ways to treat them well: how to store them, how to clean them, how to use them.

 

#2. Plan ahead

I have this awful habit of being terrible at making decisions when I really don’t care.

You know that friend who is that person who is always the one to say when hanging out, “Oh I don’t know… what do you want to do?”

Yeah… well that’s me and it comes across in my paintings.

Here is one of my first paintings.

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I specifically remember painting this… originally it was to be a field filled with flowers beneath a huge mountain range.

But then the mountain wouldn’t corporate and decided to be a scrapped blob of blue. I tried to fix it, but with little experience or knowledge failed. So I decided it was a rain pour in the distance and decided to paint a forest.

I wanted it to be a great, thick forest, but I had already made one of those and so wanted it to be different.

So I made the trees small and spread apart…

And then, I thought it looked weird (a very justified observation…) and so decided to add a creek. But something was still missing so I decided to add a rabbit. And then a butterfly. And then another one. And then a log.

And so this piece came to be.

Even if I had had the talent to make the trees look like trees and the grass look like grass and so on and so forth, it has terrible composition.

So now to try to avoid that I think ahead. Maybe sketch out a plan or follow a picture.

As beginner, especially, I wish I had picked more subjects I was familiar with.

 

#3. Research techniques & practice

Study paintings! Watch videos! Read books!

As a beginning painter I’ve found it so helpful to do all of the above, but then also to practice the techniques.

Otherwise it would be like trying to read a math book but never doing any of the problems. 😉

Right now for me it’s those gorgeous watercolor moons I’m trying to learn. (keyword: trying.)

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#4. Always finish a project

Last week I decided to paint some pictures for some friends: an animal for each. The flamingo was pretty simple and straightforward, the koala was small and fun, but the puppy…

I spent literal hours on its coat of fur.

I wanted to give up through the entire process, beginning here:

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At that point, normally I would have given up, but for two things.

First: I was using a canvas and my guilty conscience would never have let me just throw it away, and then secondly I needed to finish it by the next day or pick a new subject and start an entirely new painting to finish by the next day.

So I kept going…

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And going…

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And going…

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Finally I was somewhat satisfied with the poor puppy’s blotchy coat:

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And in the end, I just added a bunch of flowers to cover it all up.

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Ta-da!

So it didn’t turn out too bad, and I learned a lot that I would not have learned if I had stopped when I first wanted to.

Like, don’t try to paint a puppy.

See? Lesson learned. 😉

 

#5. Don’t throw it away

When do we ever finish a art project and feel fully satisfied and proud of it? Do you ever want to rip up your page, burn its pieces, and throw its ashes into the wind?

I have. A lot actually.

Like with this lady…

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*coughs* only painted a couple months ago..? that must be wrong… 😛

Go ahead and shudder. I don’t mind at all, just don’t stare at it too long, please… for your sake.

The story behind this creepy face?

Well.

At the start of this year I was trying to use watercolors to paint a face and it turned out reeeally weird.

Yes, to be fair, I was going for a certain style.

But still.

Hideous, am I right?

The strange blotchy blush, the squinty right eye, the heart shaped head, and paper thin eyebrows, with absolutely zero eyelashes or forehead.

But the thing is, in another year or so I’ll pull it out and try again and compare.

Like I did with an elephant I painted…

Elephants compared

 

And a wolf I once drew.

Wolves_compared

 

Which is why everyone should also…

#6. Always date & sign the piece

And at this point I probably will remind you of your mother when you were in kindergarten: “Don’t forget to sing your name and put the date on it, okay honey?”

I’m sorry, but they were all right.

And I was wrong when I did not listen. 😛

And now I am left to wonder when I painted this little treasure and all it’s homeless buddies:

All I know about this little guy is that he was inspired by Monet (or at least created in the studying of Monet) and that it was a long, long time ago.

Besides, there’s something official and satisfying to signing one’s work.

And last but not least…

My frens.

Don’t drink tea or coffee while painting.

There have been at least five separate occasions where I found myself subconsciously picking up my painting water to drink from.

And many times I was inches away from dipping my brushes into my chai latte.

It just ain’t worth it.

Even if you avoid these tragedies, you will end up living long enough to see either your drink die and transform into tepid liquid or your paint dry on your palette and brushes.

You can’t always multitask.


 

So there we go. Seven brilliant gems I have discovered and am still trying to work out.

What are some things you wish your younger self knew?

~ evelyn ~