Thursday, June 30, 2011

Murals and Props from a Non-Artist

Our church's Vacation Bible School is fast approaching, and I offered to help paint some props to help fit our theme of PandaMania (by Group Publishing.) Considering the fact that I've never been trained, never had art or drawing lessons, and am not an 'artist' by any stretch of the term, I think my pandas came out okay.

I use the highly skilled, post-modern, impressionistic technique of paint by number. LOL
Here's my process:
1) Find clip-art or a picture of what you want to paint (clean lines are usually easier to work with)
2) Put images onto computer and using a projector, project onto your painting surface (cardboard, paper, a wall)

3) Using a pencil, trace the projected image onto the painting surface (when finished, cover the projector bulb to make sure you didn't miss tracing anything)
4) Paint (For the pandas I used Tempera paint for the black, white, and mixed them for the gray. For any green and brown, I used acrylic craft paint that you can buy in the little bottles in craft stores.)

For large areas of color, I use wide foam brushes or a piece of sea sponge. If I want a multi-color look, I squirt 2 or 3 shades of the same color onto a dish and then dip my brush or sponge into each and apply them at the same time. For smaller areas of color, a smaller paintbrush/foam brush or piece of sponge work well.

When the main blocks of color are done, I go back and add any shading, following the clip-art as my guide (and basically faking it.) Then I add any outlining or definition with markers or a thin paint brush.

Most of my painting projects have been VBS props which don't require too much detail (and nor do I want them to take a lot of time.) 
The few walls murals I've done, I spent a little more time trying to make my shading look more artistic. These pandas took about 4 hours total from tracing to final product. I hope it will get the kids excited about our week.

With the easy trace and paint method, you can make props, decor, or even attempt a mural. Dress up a party, make some holiday decorations, or create a fantastic kid space! If I can do it, anybody can!

Here are some previous pieces:
Our Baby Nursery Mural (2002)

Serengeti Trek VBS (African Safari Theme ~ 2005)
I used the props and mural for our kids' combined birthday party first and then gave them to the church to use.
Trading Spaces (Travel Theme ~ 2006)

Noah's Ark (Mural for Pre-school Room ~ 2006):

Avalanche Ranch (Western Mountain Ranch Theme ~ 2007)
For the backdrop, I bought 2 plastic backed drop cloths at Home Depot. Then I used watered down acrylic craft paint and a sea sponge to fill in the hills. It only took about 6 hours total for the whole thing. It's 6' tall by about 22' wide, I think.
Backdrops made by scrunching up a canvas dropcloth and spray painting it with black. Unfold, rescrunch, spray with dark brown. Unfold, rescrunch, spray with light brown. Unfold and let dry. Voila! Stone walls.

Outrigger Island (Hawaiian Surfing Theme ~ 2008)
No backdrop painting this year... just surfboards and a woody wagon of which I can't seem to find a picture. I used left-over wall paint from our house and various bottle of acrylic craft paint.

Linking up here.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Father's Day Gift


The first page. The date is missing from the second year because I don't know how many years I can fit in the book. I'll add it when the book is full.

Since my hubby is one of the few people who read my blog regularly, I had to wait to post pics of his Father's Day gift. Every year, I get the kids' picture taken (usually a free 8x10 at Picture People with a coupon) and create a double page layout for a special scrapbook.
I try to vary each year with a theme or different way for the kids to be involved. It simplifies things as far as what to get as a Father's Day gift and it has so much more meaning than simply choosing another necktie. It's great to pull it out each year and see how the kids have grown and changed. The only hard part is trying to wrap it differently each year to make it less obvious for Bass.

2005 - I traced their hands and added a few words about how much they love Daddy.

2006 - I asked the kids a series of questions about Daddy. Their answers are really cute.

2007 - a 'punny' fruit themed page

2008 - I used little slips of paper that came home with Tenor from a school project. He had given answers to "Why I love my 'Cracker Jack' Dad" and they had wrapped it in a Cracker Jack box. I had Soprano answer the same for me and slipped them into a 'pocket' that I made on the facing page.

2009- We had purchased a Wii game system as our family Christmas gift the year before so the kids were very much into playing with Daddy. I took accessories and games as props for the picture and asked the kids what they liked to play with Daddy.

2010 - This pic sums up the kids relationship at the moment. Like most siblings, sort of 'love/hate'. I titled it 'Love' and asked them to give me 3 things they loved about Daddy and included their responses.

2011 - This year's pic. We just moved and have been remodeling/renovating/project doing for the past 8 months. The kids have pitched in willingly (most of the time) so a 'Kid Depot' themed page seemed to fit this year.

Happy Father's Day, dear.

Linking up to these parties---tons of great ideas and inspiration. Come check 'em out!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Preparing for those infamous summer words...

Mom, I'm boooorrredddd! There's nothing to do!
It's inevitable; you hear those words every summer. Some times, more than once a day! In order to keep potential whining to a minimum (and having every idea offered shot down with "Nah, I don't want to do that" and a curled up lip,) I scoured the internet for fun boredom busters.

Using as many ideas as I could find and adding as many as I could think up that would work at our house for my kiddos, I came up with 120 ideas for our "I'm Bored" jar.
(None of the ideas are chores since that's already part of their summer daily schedule and none are for 'away from home' activities since we build those into our week too. They are all at-home, we-have-the-stuff-on-hand, use-your-imagination, little-to-no-supervision-required activities.)

I typed the ideas into a label template (10 up, 3 across per sheet) using a cute, kid-type font (Andy for you fontaholics).

Then I trimmed scrap cardstock to 3" x 1.5" and affixed the labels.

Using a few more pieces of left-over scrapbook paper, I cut a circle to cover the lid and made a 3.75" band to go around the center of our container (a $0.25 clearance find at Staples a few years ago! I bought a bunch and have been using them to hold dipped pretzels as teacher and coach gifts at Christmas. I still have a few on hand and thought I could spare one for this project.) Then whipping out my handy-dandy Cricut and the Makin' the Grade cartridge, I cut out 1.5" letters (with the shadow) and stuck 'em on.

2 quick coats of semi-matte Mod Podge to keep it from getting too grimy from little fingers and some left-over ribbon on the handle finish it off! Best part---total cost = FREE since I had everything on hand. But if I would have had to go buy all the supplies then maybe a total of $2-$3. For a whine free summer, I'd say that's worth the investment!
The idea is that if the kids say they're bored, I'll whip out the jar and they'll get to pick a card. (Like how I spun that? They don't HAVE to pick a card, they GET to pick a card! It's all about marketing, eh?)
Whatever is on the card, they'll have to do! (With the understanding that if it's gorgeous outside and they pick an inside idea, they can pull again.) While I'm sure I'll hear those fateful words multiple times during summer vacation, at least I'll have an answer!

Linking up here!
and here:

This project was featured here

and here
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