Monday, September 15, 2014

An Old Painting

I found this photo deep in my "art" photo file and, if I'm not mistaken, it eventually became this. The photo's blurry and awful, but I love this painting because of the colors and contrast. It's like the way I prefer my interiors - warm, textured, contrasting blacks and whites with hits of green.

Untitled, Oil on Canvas Board, 6x8"

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Kitchen Reno

Our kitchen is finally getting overhauled! Maybe I'll share before and afters later at some point, but right now I'd thought I'd share this little sketch of my proposed new South-facing wall. (I say proposed, but really it's the definite plan because Josh has pretty much let me design this thing myself. Sweet!)

I always liked drawing/designing interiors. When I was younger I used to stay up really late at night, drawing my dream bedroom or making little models by glueing together bits of balsa wood. 

Anyway, I thought the sketch was cute:

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


When we got home from Europe last year, our flight was from Rome to Paris to NYC. From New York, we were generously given a lift from Laura's Dad, who cheerfully drove three hours there and three hours back before 10:30 am. What an excellent, excellent human being. 

Once back at Mr. and Mrs. Helmans' home, we were offered showers and lunch. Of course we reimbursed them for gas, but it seemed like we should do something special to express our thanks, so I painted them this sketch of the Duomo in Florence. 

"Duomo," pen and ink on paper, 5"x8"
Thanks again guys! Because of your generosity and hospitality, our trip ended on a great note.

Friday, August 8, 2014


Here's an old one that's been hanging downstairs for a while. It technically belongs to Josh, but I really love it. The photo was taken one day while Harley was looking out the window when he thought he heard Josh's motorcycle coming down our street.

Harley just came with us on a cross-country road trip and he was sooooo good. I cannot believe stress what a good boy he was the entire time. We love him so much.

"Harley," oil on canvas, approx. 36"x24"

My New Painting Studio!

Ok. So for the longest time my "studio" looked like this:

It looks awful, obviously, but the worst part was I wasn't getting much use out of it. I get hives thinking about all the useless junk we're storing, and it's just as bad to think how much space we waste storing said junk. I was doing all my painting in the dining room and outside, when the weather was nice (and sometimes when it wasn't)

So I cleaned it out.

And I went to Lowe's for ideas.

And I found this:

Mmmmhm. There are so many good black rooms (this post is already photo-heavy so I won't show you, but seriously search "black walls" in pinterest. Oh ma gaaaaaaah) and I hoped that really dark, rich, neutral walls would help with our wood trim situation. The room gets pretty good northern light and black is technically a neutral, so I figured it would be ok for painting. Turns out it also makes for great, dramatic still-life set ups. By the way, when I painted the first wall it just felt... stark. Not too dark, exactly, but just... lacking depth. So I mixed in a little cream paint that I had on hand until I got something sort of... richer. Lighter, but richer. Warmer. Foggier. And now I love it!

So, I knew that if this room was going to be functional, I desperately needed more workspace. Like, enough space for three projects at a time. I wanted a desk area where I could sit comfortably and edit photos and browse my blogroll do research. I wanted space to set up my standing easel but also spread out around my table easel, preferably while still standing. I really needed storage. I needed the room to be organized and efficient (it's just 9x10'). I needed to either 1) spend so little, or 2) spread my costs out over enough time, that Josh wouldn't notice. (It's the only way I get anything done around here). And I NEEDED it to look awesome.

The room itself took a few months, but I'm just now getting around to photographing/editing/blogging about it. Sorry! So, finally, a year later, here it is!

The floating desks were the biggest chunk of this project. I had been eyeing an old pair of discarded sliding closet doors in the basement for this purpose. They are EXACTLY the right size and they worked pretty dang well. I bought six white 20" triangle brackets at Lowe's (my single most expensive project purchase after the chair) and screwed them into the wall studs. This part was actually really tedious because our stud finder is soooo mediocre, but I'm proud to announce that I did not enlist Josh's help once, and when I finished them, he glanced in and said they "looked good". Girl Power +1. 

Raising one desk a few inches above the other allowed me to have my standing painting space AND allowed my rolling cart (a free trash day find) to fit underneath. That clock is the last thing I bought for this room and it's from Target. Later (...!!) it will go in our kitchen. I don't remember if I've ever mentioned, but my table easel was a gift from my Dad when I was in college. Side rant: people talk about "treasures" all the time, stuff that they'll keep "forever", and it's always like, a really trendy item, like a vintage Persian runner or leather moto jacket or anything brass, and you just have to roll your eyes because our society doesn't do that anymore - everything stops being cool eventually. BUT. This easel is one of about eight items in my home that I can say without doubt or hesitation that I will keep fo-re-ver. 

And then, do you see that standing easel? From my Father-in-Law. So sweet, right??! I'm so blessed to be surrounded by people who support me and want to see me succeed.

The chair is a knock-off from amazon. The art teacher at school wanted one for her etsy shop but they're only sold in pairs and she asked if I'd split the cost with her and take one. Such an easy yes. 

The pillow cover is old canvas that I painted. I loved FLD's Gran pillow but couldn't swing the price tag (Josh notices stuff, remember?) and so I made something sort of similar myself. Hint - if you have a large stash of extra canvas lying around, sewing your own pillow covers is like, the easiest thing in the world. Cut it, paint it, lay it inside-out, fold it into thirds, sew two straight lines, flip it outside-in, done. 

The campaign dresser was something ridiculous at a yard sale... like, $5 or maybe $12. If the wood had been nice I'd have refinished it, but it wasn't, so I just painted it white. It was actually really time consuming and even after many coats with a foam roller and sanding in between and a poly finish, it doesn't have the really glossy look I was hoping for. I should probably have just spray painted it. See my little homemade pochade boxes? I haven't used those in a while. The lamp was thrifted. 

I should have moved that trash can out of the shot, but this is candid and real life, right? 

Who am I kidding... I totally was too lazy.

That ink drawing in the background is something I made one night when I was really missing Portland. It's the waterfront and the Hawthorne Bridge.

Closet for more storage and my cute little Snake plant. It can survive anything!!! Excellent! That far lamp is old, from Target, and it's not ideal, but it does provide some much-needed illumination at night. The maps on the wall were actually marketed as book covers (?) at the San Lorenzo Market from my first Florence trip.

I try to keep stuff on my desk to a minimum. Laptop, a few notebooks, pens, ruler. That little white bowl holds a tape measure, a cord for my iphone, and the odd paperclip or hairband. The instagram is from printic, one of many online companies that will print off your instas polaroid-style. It's of me and Josh on the Paris Metro on our first day in Europe.

I totally bribed Harley with pulled pork to come in and pose in my studio. Notice the larger standing easel turned to the side so I could lean against the wall and shoot the widest angle possible. Shooting in small dark spaces is hard!

Side Note: anyone who follows me on any platform will know by now that we're expecting! Hooray!! We're thrilled, but the only downside (which is not even a downside) is that in six short months this space will be a nursery. At first I was a little bummed because I love this room, but quickly I realized it would allow me to take on our guest bedroom, which has also been storing a lot of junk and is also not being used efficiently. So most of this stuff will be downsized and rearranged there, and I'm excited about the challenge of making that room fit our lives, as well.

Meanwhile, this room is going to be awesome. Black walls are staying!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Josh's Anniversary Present: Cinque Terre

For our last anniversary, I painted Josh a scene from our most relaxing stop in Europe: Vernazza, in Cinque Terre. 

Vernazza Harbor, Oil on Canvas, 9x12"

Here's my table easel in the dining room while my studio was under "construction" and Josh was out of town. By the way, that poster on the wall is by my very talented brother-in-law, Seth Deitch. It's the winning design for the 2011 Charleston Wine and Food Festival. 

Cheers to the weekend! (It's almost here, right?)

Thursday, May 29, 2014


A while ago I overhauled my painting studio. Here's some stuff I found:

An exaggerated self-portrait profile:

Some sketches from our backyard one afternoon (sometimes Harley climbs on top of the picnic table to cuddle with Josh):

A semi-accurate portrait of Josh during church (the chin is wrong but the eyelashes are right!):

... and his hands:

And my favorite, a sketch of Harley on the envelope that held last year's birthday card from Josh:

It's almost the weekend!!

Monday, May 26, 2014

HUF Mural

Last summer in Europe, Josh and I had the opportunity to revisit Scandicci, the suburb of Florence, Italy, where we studied abroad our junior year of college. We stayed in this awesome 500-year old villa with 45 other college students and it was an unbelievable blast. 

So of course we swung by again to visit and say hello to our old friends and program directors, Robbie and Mona. 

It felt like a dream to be back in the place where we shared so many good memories. Downstairs there's an old stone cellar fondly known as "The Dungeon" where every HUF group is invited to create a mural depicting their trip. By the time we got there in 2007, there wasn't much prime real estate left, so we looked down. 

There wasn't enough space to represent everyone's legs and feet, but I got as many in as I could. Even Dottie, the beloved villa Dalmatian, made it in. She passed away during our session, so she's memorialized next to Jeremy in the khaki pants - he's Robbie and Mona's nephew and he grew up with her. 

I was able to round up these old photos circa 2007 from facebook, courtesy of Rachels-previously-Catrow-and-Pugh:

Everyone was sweet and took turns hanging out with me while I worked. 

Such good times. 

Arrivederci! More soon!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Europe 2013

Last June, Josh and I went to Europe with some friends. 

It. was. awesome.

I have an embarrassing number of photos, which I'm still deciding how to share. But this post is about my journal.

The first time I went to Europe, I got lazy about my journaling about a month in and that may be my number one regret in life thus far. So this time around, I was determined to keep it up. Like, while everyone else was napping on the green(ish) lawn of the Champs du Mars in front of the Eiffel Tower, I was journaling. 

I also allowed myself to take some time at spots along the way and sketch. Have you guys heard about this study? It basically says that tourists remember art better when they observe it rather than photograph it, but also seems to reinforce something that I've always loved about sketching - it's such an active way to observe what's around you.

A sculpture in the Musee d'Orsay

A particularly chic French girl walking down the Champs Elysees (I only saw her for a brief moment and then did my best to commit every detail to memory. Best part was this silky, billowy brocade coat she had on. Showstopper.)

Eiffel Tower and a layout of our second airbnb in Montmartre.

Sacre Coeur

Nike of Samothrace. Forget the Mona Lisa - this is the Louvre's Piece de Resistance, imho. She's breathtaking. Something the Louvre does exceptionally well is arranging sculptures to best catch the abundant natural light. Makes for great photos and sketches.

Venus de Milo. I feel like she was the go-to model for lots of my freshman and sophomore year art courses. We're intimately familiar.

The page in my sketchbook dedicated to handy and interesting French words and phrases.

The old clocktower in Vernazza, Cinque Terre. I drew this while we were sitting by the sea, waiting for our waiter to come with our pizza and pasta. Cinque Terre was an absolute dream.

Enormous figure sculpted into the cliffs at Monterosso, overlooking the sea.

Fishing boats in the Vernazza Harbor, just before a thunderstorm.


Botticelli's Venus at the Uffizzi in Florence. 

The Rights of Spring, or something? Is that what this painting is called? With Jack Frost Winter Personified, and the orange trees in the background? I should know this.

San Miniato al Monte, Florence.

The Duomo in Florence, from the Cafe Terrazza at the top of Rinascente (spelled totally wrong in my caption). We ran into Mona there, which was just about the happiest surprise we could hope for. Nothing makes you feel more like a local in a strange place than running into someone you know. She was just leaving with some friends and offered us her prime seat and view.

Detail of a window on the Duomo in Florence. It was pouring rain so we were standing under an awning in the Duomo piazza, waiting to meet up with Dave and Laura for dinner (which was lasagna).

A few sketches from the Medici Chapel! I was so excited to squeeze this visit into our last day in Florence. It's such a beautiful, peaceful room - and I learned that Michelangelo, worried about backlash from the Medici family after a political revolution, hid in a small back room connected to it for three months!! While he was there he covered the walls with drawings... undiscovered until the late 70's, I think. (Google it... there are some awesome photos!) I asked if I could buy a ticket to get in, but they said they no longer sell public tickets to that part of the chapel. It's probably just as well. 

Remains of the Temple of the Vestal Virgins in Rome.

Piazza Navona. It was a hot day and we got some gelato and rested behind this fountain. I sort of grimaced at the (back) view of Poseidon, shrugged, and opened up my sketchbook. Turns out this is one of my favorites. That's the great thing about sculpture - it looks good from every angle.

Maybe the most exciting thing to sketch was the Belvedere Torso at the Vatican in Rome. I'd seen it before, and sketched it before, but never both at the same time. Michelangelo sketched from this exact torso. (!!!!!!!!!! Totally still geeking out about it ten months later.)

Michelangelo's Moses at San Pietro in Vincoli in Rome. There was a morning mass service going on while we were all gawking at Pope Julius II's tomb. Can you imagine going to church in a place like that?

Flowers and cafe seating in Trastevere.

Some Italian lingo, and the view from the Boboli Gardens out over Rome. Our last night was spent overlooking a concert in the Piazza del Popolo and fireworks over the castle in the distance. 

It was a perfect, perfect trip.

So those were just the sketches... there's more Europe art coming soon!