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Step by Step Easter Bunny Eye

The lake outside of my studio may still be frozen, but spring is technically here, haha! As I wait for those elusive 50 and 60 degree days in the extended forecast to reach me, I’ve decided to do a little Easter and springtime painting! Not only to get into the springy mood myself, but to warm myself up for my Easter gigs which start this weekend! In honor of spring’s inevitable return, today I wanted to share this simple little eye design…a bunny peeking around some eggs!

First, do a quick “sketch” outline of the eggs and bunny. I used a small, round brush with a little white.

Next, fill in the eggs with whatever springy colors and patterns you like! Try stripes, polka dots, zig zags, or just solid color! Experiment with metallic paints if you wish! I used my Cameleon small blending brush to blend the colors of the egg over to my eyelid.

With a round brush, fill in the white of the bunny. Add a few pink details inside the ears and the nose. I like to use a little light blue to add shading to white objects…it gives them a little dimension and a bit more color!

Outline the design with a fine, round brush and your favorite black. I like Wolfe black for my outlines. I also used some tiny dotters to add polka dots to my eggs here!

Add some fun flourishes around the design! I used my new Topaz Fleur Mirror eye stencil, combined with my Topaz Tiny Bubbles stencil. I then used a Deb’s Dotter to add a few more colorful dots to tie it all together.

I finished off the design with some “Capricorn” glitter creme by Amerikan Body Art…one of my favorites for the bright, cheery colors, and it blended perfectly with my colorful polka dots!

I have another fun Easter design that I will share soon, and hopefully some more as my schedule allows over the coming week! Stay tuned! Thanks so much for stopping by, and happy painting!

  • Topaz Stencils - Fleur Mirror Eye
    Topaz Stencils – Fleur Mirror Eye
    $6.00
  • Topaz Stencil - Tiny Bubbles
    Topaz Stencil – Tiny Bubbles
    $2.00
  • Amerikan Body Art Glitter Cremes
    Amerikan Body Art Glitter Cremes
    $10.99
  • Deb's Dotters
    Deb’s Dotters
    $0.10
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Rekindling your Creative Fire

This article was taken from the Spring 2021 issue of Wet Paint Magazine. We thought it was still very relevant as we approach the 2 year anniversary of pandemic shutdowns! Check out the full issue for a ton of springtime design inspiration, step-by-step’s, and more articles about getting back to work post-covid, some covid-friendly designs that work around masks and on arms & legs, and tips for ways to connect with your clients, among much more!

Spring 2021….

Has this pandemic caused you to lose your creative “mojo?” I’ve seen so many artists on social media who are down, depressed, and feeling hopeless. Many of us have not even touched our face paints since last March! I, for one, just recently passed the one year anniversary of my last face painting gig, and it was definitely not an anniversary I want to celebrate. 

As face painters, having all of our gigs canceled hits us hard in other ways beyond the financial. We have become accustomed to delivering joy, being the life of the party, and having the satisfaction of creating more smiles per hour than most other careers. When that joy that we thrive on is taken from our jobs, it is easy to get down. Money can be earned in other ways, but the joy and satisfaction that comes from our jobs is much harder to replace. Many artists are even announcing that they are selling their kits and giving up face painting. I would like to encourage you today not to jump to that point just yet!

My suggestion, if you are just not feelin’ it with the face paints, is to not sell everything, but set it aside for now. So many people out there would do just about anything to have a fulfilling job like we have, and that gift is not something we should let go of easily. It is still way too early to predict any lasting effects that the pandemic will have on our industry. Instead, whether you are taking up another way to make money or not, seek out even more creative outlets! 

But what if you aren’t even feeling creative anymore? After all, the more creativity you use, the more you have, and if you’re not painting, chances are your creative “bucket” has run dry. How do you refill it? 

The key to getting your creative fire rekindled is to not require your passion to pay the bills…at least not for a little while. To rekindle our own fires, we need to focus on ourselves, using our talents to bring joy to ourselves, not necessarily to make money. Think of it like reverting back to childhood, when you made art just because it was fun and enjoyable. Removing that pressure to pay the bills from your passion alone will light a spark.

Even the genius Albert Einstein often found himself “stuck” now and then, unsure of what to do next or how to get past a roadblock. He did, however, discover an ingenious way to open up his mind to new ideas when he found himself in this situation. He called it “combinatory play.” When Einstein was stuck, he would stop working, set aside the problem, and go play his violin for a couple hours, inevitably resulting in new ideas and a way to move forward. He defined combinatory play as “the act of opening up one mental channel by dabbling in another.” Essentially, combinatory play means taking two unrelated things and putting them together to create new ideas. The key to combinatory play is to just do something else…as long as it is different, and most importantly, you are enjoying it and having fun! It doesn’t have to be face painting, and it doesn’t even have to be painting. It can be playing an instrument like Einstein did, working in your garden, a physical activity, or learning about a new subject. 

Why does this work? Einstein believes that combinatory play relieves some stress, for one thing. Again, removing the stress of the expectation to make money, leaves only fun and exploration. It also allows your creative mind to start connecting dots between ideas, creating totally new ideas that you may never have stumbled across had you kept forcing your way through the problem.  Combinatory play also offers a change of perspective. Doing something else gives you a mental break, and in turn, a fresh eye.

Now, many of you have found other ways to use your creativity to pivot your business, still bringing in money in other creative ways. If this is working for you, please don’t stop! I myself have been having fun and making some money painting windows and now offering virtual paint parties (on canvas)! Keep doing whatever is working for you, but if you find yourself still not feeling fulfilled, or not even in the mood to pick up a brush, give some combinatory play a try.

Besides my own creative business pivots, I’ve also been dabbling in other things, solely for myself without the pressure of monetary performance. I’ve been doing some painting on canvas and rocks, and have even started learning Spanish! In previous issues I’ve featured some ways other artists are pivoting their business, but in this issue I’d like to set aside the work aspect of our creativity and focus on play.

I started painting vintage campers in 2021 and am about to start my 11th!
I took up dot painting on rocks in 2021…so fun and relaxing!
One of my early rock paintings!

I will be the first to admit it can be hard to carve out the time for creative play, even when Covid has taken away all of your gigs. I’ve been working non stop since the shutdowns last March, exploring multiple pivots for my business and other ways to bring in revenue. It wasn’t until nearly a year later that I finally forced myself to slow down and accept the gift of time that Covid has given me, carving out some time for combinatory play.

I live in Minnesota, and we really know how to get out and enjoy winter. However, with both of our boys doing distance learning and my husband working from home as well, this winter my family and I decided to spend the month of February somewhere warmer. We loaded up the truck with our stuff, our boys, and our great dane “Wahoo,” got up early one Saturday morning, and drove 19 hours straight through until we reached our Airbnb on the Gulf Coast in Mississippi! We were set to stay there for a full month, and I vowed to pack more art supplies than clothes, and spend time during the week days making art while my guys were working. I packed up my acrylic and watercolor paints, and all the empty canvases that have been collecting dust in my studio for years.

Our route…non stop to the coast!
The snowy views we left behind
Wahoo & Sam in the truck

My self inflicted artistic sabbatical did not disappoint! With temperatures warm enough to go outside, I made myself at home on a little table on the deck facing the backyard bayou, and set to work making whatever I felt like. I even did a short Facebook Live video on my Paintertainment page about combinatory play. Whatever crazy ideas came to me, I acted upon. I loved the shape of the fallen magnolia pods in the yard, and thought they might be fun to make colorful, so I painted them. I collected gnarly oyster shells on the gulf shores and adorned them with colors using my dot painting tools. I painted countless sunset scenes on mini canvases, finishing them off with glitter on the water and real gulf shore sand glued on the shoreline. I painted sunsets with silhouettes of seagulls, egrets and pelicans on the insides of oyster shells, and on fallen palm tree fronds. I made watercolor paintings of the things we’d seen on our weekend adventures, and acrylic paintings of my favorite vintage campers in fantasy camping settings. 

Paint magnolia pods? Why not?!
A few mini’s
oyster shells are everywhere!

I fully realize that not everybody has the luxury of being able to run away to another state for a month. But in the process of fighting the pressure to once again monetize my passions, I did learn a few tidbits that can be applied to just about any artist in some way…

Carve Out The Time

This can be the toughest part…making the decision to be intentional about rekindling your fire by setting aside precious time to do so. Start with what you can, even if it’s just one hour a week. Maybe try to set aside one DAY a week to work on something fun and new. If you can swing it, look ahead at your calendar and carve out an entire weekend! It was scary for me to set aside 4 weeks…so I was flexible with myself. The weekends would be dedicated to family fun, and I would still set a goal to complete my most urgent business to-do’s every morning and run needed errands, but any other time while my family was working would be spent making art. Even with all of the fun vacation-y things we did on weekends on the gulf, I still found myself actually looking forward to my art time during the week and whatever I was going to make next!

Shrimp boat
I referenced a photo I took for this one.
The little backyard deck table I spent most of my days at in February 2021!

Change your scenery

Changing your surroundings can really help to give your mind a break from the day-to-day, and allow creative ideas to come into view. Even if you are still strictly following stay-at-home orders, you can change your viewpoint by going to a local park and setting up space at a picnic table, or even changing what room of your house you’re in or rearranging your current creative space. Perhaps you can even find a family member or friend in your Covid bubble and visit each other, or swap houses for an afternoon! Eager for inspiration beyond your immediate surroundings? Try immersing yourself in another culture with some visual research, or seek out virtual online tours of beautiful places. If you’re able to take a weekend or day trip, that’s even better! You don’t have to travel to the other side of the world, the country, or your state. Just put yourself in a different setting, look around and take it in.  Just don’t forget to allow yourself to creatively respond to your change in scenery in some way, or you may miss out on the new ideas it brings. When I wasn’t sure what to “make” first on my trip, I painted random colors on found objects, and scenes from my surroundings. Each Monday I would scroll through my camera roll from the weekend, and paint some of the pictures I found Instagram-worthy!

Painting on fallen palm tree fronds
Tiny paintings are fast & fun!
I love my traveling watercolor set!

Unplug

Our worlds exist online more now than ever, which means we need to have analog experiences more than ever! Yes, there is a LOT of inspiration to be found online, and social media can be a great place to kick start new ideas. However, especially when you’re feeling down or depleted, it can also be a great source of procrastination, distraction, and unhealthy comparison. If you suspect this is the case for you, try turning off your computer, or closing your social media apps for a while. I’m not suggesting you go on a year long Facebook fast…just try spending even one hour, hopefully more, doing nothing digital. Listen to some music. Read a hard copy of a book or magazine. Go outside for a walk. Try a new recipe. Step outside and visit with a real, live neighbor or two. Take a nap! Whatever it is, give your brain a rest from screens and interact with the physical world. Keep your creative eyes and ears open, and try to act on the first crazy idea that pops into your head! Which brings me to my next suggestion…

Swinging on vines
Going for a walk at a park
immerse yourself in nature!

Say YES to crazy ideas!

The best part about making art only for yourself, is that you don’t have to run anything by anybody, or convince anyone else that your idea is worth trying!  I mentioned that I painted on magnolia pods while spending time down south. I had no idea what they even were until some Facebook friends told me. I thought they looked neat and had a unique shape, and my first thought was “this might look cool painted with bright colors!” So, I picked it up, got out my paints and tried it! 

The more often you act on those funny little ideas that come to you, the more often they will come to you, and the easier it will be to find that natural flow of new ideas. As business owners with busy schedules, we tend to set aside many of the ideas that pop into our heads, because we have other more pressing things to do. But by giving your idea some legs as soon as it comes to you, you are telling those ideas that they are welcome, that they can come any time, and that they will be heard and acted upon.

Discovering magnolia pods
Painting shells
Gluing sand and shells to canvas

Restrict Yourself

Perhaps the possibilities are just too endless when you think of ways to “play.” There are just too many books you want to read, or too many blank canvases in your studio to know where to begin. Instead of completely freeing yourself to do anything, try the opposite, and restrict yourself! Make yourself paint with your non-dominant hand, or using only one or two colors. Give yourself a limited task, whether it’s materials, time, or subject matter. Sometimes limiting your resources can force yourself to get creative in ways you never would have thought. You can even limit yourself to subject matters you would like to improve upon! 

I decided to force myself to paint clouds, which I feel I am not good at. I spent some time watching a few YouTube tutorials on clouds, and while I still wasn’t totally happy with my result, I learned some new techniques, added more tools to my shopping list, and had a lot of fun in the process! I also limited the size of most of my work, bringing along canvases as small as 2”x2” square. This forced me to complete pieces in less time, focusing less on the tiny details. Some days I only allowed myself 5 or 10 minutes to paint something in my watercolor sketchbook. I found myself loving the style that came from a time restriction!

Ugh, I hate painting clouds!
Tiny canvases only!
Tiny watercolor sketchbook

Consult a Kid

Remember when I mentioned how combinatory play takes us back to childhood, when we made art just for fun? If you have trouble taking your mindset back to childhood, consult an expert: a kid! Pull aside your own kid, your grandkids, or neighbor kids, and ask them what they think about what you’re working on. Ask them what you should make/paint/do next. Ask them to show YOU how to draw something. Or better yet, get out the finger paints and just play right along with them! Kids have that innate ability to think outside of the box, because they haven’t yet moved into one. They don’t carry with them all of the preconceived notions and limitations that adults do, which makes them particularly great at allowing limitless creativity to flow.

Fight the urge to monetize everything

Ironically in this pursuit of painting just for my own enjoyment last month, as I shared my work on social media I found myself having to fight off requests for commissions and people telling me “you could sell these!” I had to explain to several family members and friends that I had spent the majority of my life trying to monetize my art, and I was currently just trying to paint for myself, for fun! I may explore some of those opportunities down the road, but for this one month, my art was off limits!

My only goal during my time in Mississippi was simple. Make art. Make more art than I ever do at home, only for fun. Fill as many of the blank canvases I’ve been hoarding as possible in the time I had. There were no quality requirements…only quantity. And that, I believe, is what revived my own creativity, and sent me home with loads of new inspiration and ideas!

If you have the means to create some art just for fun, while paying the bills in other ways, I encourage you to do so. Setting aside your creative endeavors all together can quickly result in your ideas drying up as much as my festival glitter did over the past year…it’s rock hard! However, neither your festival glitter nor your creative juices are too far gone. In the case of my festival glitter, adding water brought it right back to it’s original splendor. Keeping your creative juices flowing, even through a dry spell, will help you stay skilled and clever, and make you all the more ready to jump right back into the profession that you love, just as soon as we come out the other side of this pandemic!

One Year Later…

So, this article above was published nearly a year ago now, and as I look back I can still see the positive effects of my “forced creative sabbatical.” While I am certain I made more “just-for-fun” art in my one month in Mississippi than I had in 10 years prior combined, I didn’t stop once I got home, as I feared I might. Realizing how much joy just making art brought to me, and how much it fueled my creativity in my business as well, I made it a point to keep carving out time for art with other mediums. On this trip I created my first vintage camper painting, and 1 year later I am not working on my 12th camper painting. I’ve continued to enjoy rock painting and share this new hobby with friends, and this winter have taken up paper quilling as well! My hope is that now that we are coming up on year two of this pandemic, that you too have been able to re-evaluate and re-prioritize how you spend your time. And if you haven’t yet, it’s not too late! Look back at what has brought you the most enjoyment over the past two years (not necessarily the most income), and figure out a way to work it back into your schedule. You just might discover an entirely new passion, make new friends who share that passion, and see the positive creative effects trickle down into your business as well!

paper quilling!
One of my camper paintings
A christmas camper painting!

Gretchen Fleener is the editor of Wet Paint Magazine, and also runs Paintertainment.com, and online face & body art supply shop and source of oh-so-much free instruction and inspiration. Find her on Facebook and Instagram  @PaintertainmentDotCom, @GlitterGlamper and @GretchenFleenerArtist.

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Christmas Face Paintings!

Lately I’ve been having some fun painting some lesser known Christmas special/movie characters and posting them on our Facebook page! Here are a few I’ve done so far…there are more coming next week, so make sure to like and follow us on Facebook for more fun inspiration to come!

“Pink Nighmare!” from A Christmas Story – painted on myself
“Charlie-in-the-Box” from Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer – painted on myself! (Using some Ooh! Snowflake stencils!)
“Hocus Pocus” from Frosty the Snowman – painted on myself! (Using some Ooh! Snowflake stencils!)
“Abominable” (Buble!) – painted on my son Toby! (Using some Ooh! Snowflake stencils!)

Okay, this one below is not a particular movie character, however, it was an idea that came out of the Charlie-in-the-Box design with the pom poms! I thought they would make cute snowballs! 😀

“Snowball Fight” – painted on my son Sam! (Using some Ooh! Snowflake stencils!)

Here are a few of the products I used for the snowflakes in many of these designs…I love the short kabuki brush for detailed stencil designs, and am totally in love with these Ooh! Snowflake stencils!!

  • W07 Ooh! Snowflake Wrap
    W07 Ooh! Snowflake Wrap
    $5.00
  • W08 Ooh! Snowflake Wrap
    W08 Ooh! Snowflake Wrap
    $5.00
  • Short Kabuki Stencil Brush
    Short Kabuki Stencil Brush
    $4.99

Stay tuned to our Facebook page for some more fun Christmas designs next week, as well as photos from our upcoming weekend events!

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Christmas Window Painting Season!

It’s been one busy month here at Paintertainment with window painting! Besides the three Dunkin’ Donuts locations I have the pleasure of painting seasonally throughout the year, I also did an interior job, painting some conference rooms in an office building! So much fun…here are some photos and movies of what I’ve been up to so far this winter!

Dunkin’ Donuts…all set for winter!
This was the Chaska, MN Dunkin’ Donuts’ location…I did the top painting in the fall, and had designed it so that I could easily remove just the fall foliage, to update it for winter. Thankfully the lettering all looked just as pristine as the day I put it up, so it is able to hang on through another season!

Here is a time lapse video of the Chaska Dunkin’ location…this one is on two sides of the building…

Below is the Rogers, MN Dunkin’ location! This design was SO much fun! I love this client…she really lets me just have creative freedom and always chooses something super fun from my sketches. I love incorporating donuts into their designs! The previous fall design had a fun owl design on the lower panes, so we kept the text again here and I updated it for winter with some ice fishermen! This design definitely screams “Minnesota” as we love to ice fish here, and I was sure to paint a few of my favorite fish to catch here: sunfish, walleye and bass!

This window was the hardest physically for me to paint. It was supposed to be 50 degrees this day, however, it only ended up getting to 37 while I was painting. This is all fine of course if it’s sunny and not windy…I painted Chaska in 37 and sun and didn’t even need a coat. But, for whatever reason, this day I was absolutely freezing to the point of shaking! I think it was a combination of the cloudiness, the dampness (it had just rained the day before), and the breeze. So, the paint dried very slowly…but in the end I love how it turned out!!

Here is a video…

The third Dunkin’ location didn’t need much updating…I just removed some pumpkins and replaced them with snow!

With some careful planning, you can save a little time and money with seasonal updates! Of course, window paintings aren’t really meant to last more than a few weeks, but these ones stay relatively protected from weather, and still looked like new. So, why not make them last? I did turn her earmuffs from orange to red here as well. The other side of the building didn’t have anything super fall-ish so I left that one as-is.

The last window job I’d like to share with you was my first INTERIOR job! This was for three conference rooms, which have basically a wall of glass.

This was a really fun and HUGE job! I probably painted around 50 feet lengthwise, and floor to ceiling. It was nerve wracking painting on carpet, but I made sure to have plenty of drop cloths and am super careful about making sure any paint I’m not using at the moment is closed up and in a safe spot. The tricky part here was keeping everything within just a few feet of the windows, so that people could still walk by me in the hallways!! It involved a lot of shuffling of my supplies. Also, being on the 7th floor, I probably spent 1/2 hour or so just bringing stuff in and out. I did also have to run out to Home Depot to grab a better, darker green…so all in all I spent about 10 hours straight here! Everything took more coats than usual…just because I am picky and I like it to be as opaque as possible. But, since these windows have exterior windows behind them, there is no way to completely avoid seeing brush strokes with the sun shining through them. I love how it turned out in the end, and it was really nice to be inside and not worry about weather! I also got to try out my new Posca paint pens for the ornaments. I didn’t take any time lapse movies of this, being that it was in an office, for privacy reasons.

So, as you can see I’ve been busy lately squeaking in window jobs between entertainment jobs! But, I really love window painting and I’m so glad that Covid pushed me to add this to my repertoire. It blends perfectly with my schedule, as I can paint windows on week days during the day, leaving those busy holiday weekends for face painting and balloon twisting!

Interested in learning more about becoming a window painter? Check out the latest issue of Wet Paint Magazine! I recently wrote an article about how I got into window painting, and the process I followed getting started, including some tips & tricks of the trade, resources to learn more, and a list of what supplies you need to get going!

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Glitter Comparisons

This past summer while working in my Glitter Glamper booth at the MN State Fair, I found myself not particularly loving my yellow, pink, and sometimes orange in glitter tattoos. The problem was that the kids saw my super bright looking “hot pink” glitter in my kit and always chose it, but it just didn’t come across as bright on the skin. I mean, you know how it goes…the kids still LOVE them, but we as artists are always our own worst critics, and we want our work to really pop. While it does depend a lot on the skin tone that they are being applied to, generally bright, bold and opaque colors just tend to show up better on glitter tattoos. Here are a few from the fair that showed my pink, yellow and orange woes…

I tried mixing in some orange with the yellow to capture the layering on Belle’s dress…meh…
This girl really wanted this pink and this orange…she loved it but to me it didn’t come across as bright as the jars of glitter may have led her to believe.
You can see how crisp and bold the dark green is…but as you get to the yellow flame tips, it starts to lose it’s readability a bit.

I found that I was not the only one in my booth having this struggle! But the awesome thing about working alongside so many painty friends is that you can learn from each other, share and test out other brands, and get better!

Well, now that the fair is over, I thought I would do a little experimenting with some different shades and brands of yellows, oranges and pinks…the three colors that seemed to disappoint me most! I should note, I am sharing this information simply to help my fellow artists. I don’t even sell most of these glitters in my shop yet…so it’s not a sales pitch and nobody paid me to do this. 😉 I tend to stock my whole store based on my own experiences and recommendations from painty friends, so I’ll likely be adding more of these down the road as I test them and fall in love with some!

Anyway, here are some photos of swatches on my own arm, along with some gif’s to show the sparkle factor!

Pink Glitters

I had the most shades of pink to test! The one I currently have in my kit is Amerikan Body Art’s Bubblegum Pink. It’s one that looks super bright, but when used as a glitter tattoo, isn’t quite so much. I do still LOVE this pink, and it is my go-to pink for face painting. It does tend to be a little bit more transparent which is why I think it doesn’t pop as much on plain skin. Over pink face paint though, it’s awesome and it’s sheer-ness means it won’t totally cover up my work but enhances it.

For glitter tattoos, however, I think the UV and Neon shades seemed to show the most contrast against the skin. So, if you’re going for that as your goal, I’d recommend the UV and Neon options. I’ve included some other shades of pink too, because you don’t always necessarily want the UV look, and there are applications for both. I also think that the non-neon versions do have more sparkle in the light!

Yellow Glitters

Same goes for the yellows, and the oranges below for that matter. The UV/Neon versions seem to be a lot more opaque and bold, though the more sheer, iridescent colors have more sparkle to them. I had been using Amerikan Body Art’s Lemon Zest…much like the bubblegum pink, I still think it’s the best for face painting, where the neon/uv versions are more bold and high contrast for glitter tattoos. The powders are less glittery, but I thought were worth a try in this comparison!

Orange Glitters

Electric Orange is my fave for face painting, again, though the UV/Neon options seem more opaque. I do like Amerikan Body Art’s Tangerine glitter too, for a darker orange!

Summary…

This is by NO MEANS an exhaustive sampling of these colors. I chose some from my existing vendors, some that looked good to me online, some that I found my fellow artists using, and some that I already had on hand. But what I’ve learned is that the more holographic glitters are best when poofed over face paint of a similar color, though the UV/Neon versions seem to be more bold and opaque when applied directly over bare skin, as we do for glitter tattoos. Neon glitters and powders are bolder, though the non-neon ones tend to have more sparkle.

Do with this information whatever you wish! For me, this has pretty much just made my kit grow, haha! I love both the more iridescent and the more opaque glitters and will keep both in my kit…just as I have both glycerine based and wax based blacks and whites in my face paint kit! They both have their ideal application.

Do you have a favorite shade of yellow, orange or pink that isn’t listed here? I’d LOVE to hear about it!!

Post it in the comments! I really prefer my blog posts to be living documents where we can all share ideas and new things as new things come along. We all know there’s a new product practically every week in our world, ha! Your comments help keep these posts relevant, so please feel free to share! Challenge my opinions and post your own! Thanks so much for stopping by and I hope this post has helped you in your own quest for the perfect glitter for your application!

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Finding Productivity in Your Routine

This article was originally published in one of our free e-newsletters! If you’d like to be among the first to receive articles like this, along with free step-by-step designs and coupon codes for our store, you can click here to subscribe and to download past issues!

At the beginning of 2020 I started a habit of organizing my weeks and days that was really working well for me. Sadly, Covid eventually interrupted my momentum and my new routine fell by the wayside as I focused on the struggle to simply put on real pants and juggle a spouse and kids all working from home! These things happened to many of us, but when you’re your own boss, you eventually realize that nobody is going to hold you accountable for accomplishing anything except yourself. I have come to the realization that, even though I might not feel like my daily tasks and goals are as numerous or lofty as they were pre-covid, simply having them and laying out a plan plays a big role in my overall well being, my family’s well being, and my business’s well being! SO, as I look forward to our post-covid future, I’ve decided to go back to what was working before! 

I’m going to share just this one piece of my organization and accountability process, in hopes that it might inspire you to create your own! Feel free to use my method, or twek it to make it more personal to you!

I use my phone and electronic reminders for everything, but I still like tactile things like paper. And stickers. And color coded tabs, markers and pencils! So I organize myself in an old school, 3-ring planner binder. But I start with an empty binder…not one with pre-made pages…so that I can truly make it MINE!

Here is a link to my exact binder!

The Repeated, Every Day Tasks

First I identified what things EVERY day needed. On top of every page I have a space for that day’s commitments, where I write in meetings, events, and other stuff going on that day. Then I have my “Do-NOW’s” which are tasks that are urgent and can’t wait for another day…such as packing up a customer’s online order, responding to quote requests, etc. On the bottom of every page I have personal tasks I want to remember to do every day. For me those are my devotions, and some sort of physical activity or workout. You can make these be anything you want! Time for yourself, time for rest, time to feed your own soul and body. I know I want to aim for exercise and devotions every day, so those are printed on every sheet, but I also have blank lines for non-daily personal tasks I want to do that day.

The Different, Changing-Daily Tasks

I have SO many to-do’s flying around my brain at any given time, but I know that the key to productivity is to FOCUS on single things at a time. For this reason I try to dedicate each day of the week to a particular “bucket.” When I think of a new to-do, I find whichever day of the week it fits best with, I add it to that day’s list of tasks, and then I can rest knowing it’ll get done that week. I like catchy alliteration, so I came up with some sort of theme for each day of the week. Here are my daily themes:

Media Monday

Mondays are my day to focus on my website, creating social media content, newsletters, etc.

Tackle it Tuesday

On Tuesdays I ask myself, what random tasks can I get crossed off my to-do list today? I start with quick, small things and work my way up so I can cross off a lot and feel accomplished. And yes, I’ve been known to write down things I already did just so I can mark down that super satisfying check mark, haha!

Weight Lift Wednesday

Wednesdays I focus on chipping away at a task that is heavily weighing on my  mind that week. It can be a huge project, a personal thing, or just something I really don’t want to do but want to quit thinking about!

Think Big Thursday

Thursdays I dedicate to big ideas and future goals and large projects. These might change from week to week, but I always have something that fits! The back of my planner has divider tabs dedicated to my big projects.

Financial Friday

Last year Fridays were “frazzled Fridays” where I tied up random loose ends. This year I decided I need to be more regular about keeping up with boring financial stuff (because I hated the pile of work that awaited me come tax season!), so Fridays my goal is to catch up on filing receipts, reconciling bank accounts, and checking in on the status of invoices. Which brings up a good point about all this…if you are going through your week or month or year and discover that a particular theme day doesn’t seem to be working for you, or like me, you find that there’s something you’re not getting done that you’d benefit from fitting into your regular routine, change it up! I designed these planner sheets on my computer so I can change them up easily. I also don’t print out an entire year at once…I print out maybe a couple months out, just in case I want to make a change.

Say-NO Saturday

What you DON’T put on your calendar is just as important, if not more important, than what you do! On Saturday I write down the things I said no to that week which would have drained me, and write down what else I was able to do with that time that filled me up instead!  Don’t feel bad about what you turn down…celebrate what saying “no” gave back to you! 

Start Again Sunday

Sunday is my day to reflect, restore and re-focus. I reflect on the past week, take time to rest, and look ahead at next week’s plan.

My Other Binder Accessories…

There are a few other little things I have in my binder to help organize things…

While I don’t print out daily pages for an entire year up front, I do still want to have a place to jot down gigs, conventions, and other events that are farther out into the future, and be able to see a month at a glance. So, I got these blank monthly planner refills. I put each month’s spread right into my daily pages, so they work as dividers for my daily pages as well.

I like to be able to quickly flip to TODAY in my planner, so I also purchased a pack of these little snap-in bookmarks. I labeled one “TODAY,” and each day I move it farther into my planner to mark the day I’m on.

I purchased these little pockets that are great for stuffing small bits of mail, to-do lists, receipts, etc that I want to put with a project or month or day, but don’t want to hole punch.

“But I don’t think like this!”

Many of you are probably thinking, “But I’m an artist! I don’t think like this…I live in an organized chaos and bounce around from task to task. I could never live this organized!” But I’ll tell you, I’m the same way! I can get SO easily distracted by shiny things (literally and figuratively), and am always bouncing from thing to thing. I love crossing things off my list, but after a while, that bouncing can get mentally exhausting. One minute I’m working on one thing, and the next I am distracted by a new idea, or I remember something else I need to do that day/week. Having this method to my madness has removed a lot of the madness from my methods!! Now when I’m working away and an idea or task comes to mind, I don’t have to worry about forgetting it or it not getting done. I simply stop, and think about the urgency first. Did an order just come in and it needs to ship asap? Then I write it down on my “Do-Now’s” for the day. Can it wait a few days? Then I figure out which theme day it fits within best, and write it on THAT day’s “Do-Now’s.” Is it a new appointment or a family activity to schedule? I write it down under the commitments on whatever day’s page it is. The act of writing these things down gets them OUT of my head, so that I can cut off the distraction without losing the task, and more quickly get back to what I was focusing on that day.

Of course life happens, and many days the “theme” gets overridden by an event or something else more urgent. And that is totally fine! Remember, these theme days are just a guideline to help you get things done by focusing more each day on a particular task or bucket. You’ll always have “do-now’s” that jump in at a moment’s notice, and you’ll always have big ideas that you’d like to remember to work on someday. But I find that sorting my days by theme helps me to focus on one thing without fear of the others getting forgotten, and in turn, be more productive. In general I try to at least get all of my “Do-Now’s” done every day (the things that truly can’t wait), and the day’s commitments. Everything else I count as extra productivity. If I have to spend half the day running errands and don’t get to one task I had written down for one day, if it’s urgent I’ll move it to the next day’s “do-now’s,” but if it’s not super urgent, I’ll move it to that same theme day next week! Give yourself some grace and flexibility in the process!

I hope that you are able to find some method to the madness in 2021 that works for you!

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Turn Old Holiday Cards into Glittery Decor!

Christmas time is the perfect time of year to do messy, glittery projects around the house. You can always blame the lingering glitter on your aunt who sent you that glittery card, or whoever wrapped their gifts in glitter paper, haha!

It seems we all have just a little more time on our hands this year, thanks to Covid, so why not spend some time reducing holiday waste and making something sparkly out of all those holiday cards? I remember my mom making these decorative balls out of old Christmas cards, and had one of hers in my decorations, so I thought I’d deconstruct it and make a couple of my own with an old stack of cards from previous years! My soon-to-be teenager Sam even helped me out with cutting, scoring, folding and gluing. This is a great project to do with your kids at any age. Little ones can help cut or tear the fronts of the cards off and recycle the backs. They can also help with the tracing of the patterns, and if they’re good with scissors, cutting out circles! Here’s how to make them!

Tools & Supplies Needed:

  • Template (see next step!)
  • Pile of holiday cards – You’ll need to make 20 circles to create one ball.
  • Cardboard – any thick stock will do. You can even use a holiday card back, or a cereal box from your recycle bin!
  • Scissors
  • Ballpoint pen or nail – for scoring the cards to create crisp folds
  • Glue – Any ol’ white school glue works, though thicker tacky glue will drip less
  • String, yarn, etc to hang with
  • GLITTER! duh!!!

1. Make a template.

I’ve made this SUPER easy for you…simply download and print this template I’ve created for you, below!

Cut out the circle and the triangle, lay it on your piece of cardboard, and use them to trace a pattern on the cardboard. Cut those out so you have a cardboard circle and triangle, as shown in the photo above. This is scaled to create about a 7″ diameter ball. If you like, you can scale these up or down to change the size of your ball!

2.Cut circles out of holiday cards

Next, lay your cardboard circles on the front of your cards, trace them, and cut them out. You’ll need 20 circles to make one ball. This is a great place to involve kids. You can have them start by tearing the cards in half and saving the fronts. Photo cards don’t work well because of their glossy surface, so we only use the paper greeting cards for these!

3. Score the triangular folds

Take one of your card circles and flip it upside down. Now take your triangle template and position it so that all 3 points are touching the edge of the circle. Here’s where you’ll use the nail…but it doesn’t have to be a nail. A ballpoint pen works, a letter opener, a toothpick, a fork, whatever…just something strong and relatively pointy. What we’re doing here is scoring the card, so that you’ll get perfectly straight, crisp folds. Press and run your nail or whatever tool along the three edges of the triangle. Put a piece of cardboard or paper underneath so you don’t scratch or write on the table! This is my son doing this part…

4. Fold

Now, flip your circle back over and fold towards the printed sides. Notice how nice it folds after you’ve scored it!

5. Glue 5 Circles together to form the top.

Put some craft glue on one of the flaps.

Glue together 5 pieces to create a domed, round top for your ball. Clothespins or chip clips work great to hold the together while they dry! Before you totally glue them all together, loop a piece of string, yarn or ribbon through the center point to hang it with. You can tie a knot here to hold it in, or just use some glue and/or tape inside to hold your string.

6. Repeat to create the bottom, and make a strip for the middle.

Now that you have the top made, do the same thing again to create the bottom. You should have two domed pieces made of 5 cards each. Next, glue 10 more together in a straight row, as shown above. This will be the middle of your ball.

7. Assemble the Ball

Take your strip of 10 cards, shape it into a ring and glue as shown above. As you can see here, I am impatient so I used a little tape on the inside to hold these together while they dry!

Now, glue on your top (above) and your bottom (below)!

8. Add Glitter!

And now for the BEST PART….the GLITTER!! When I’m using loose glitter like this, I work over a folded piece of paper, poster board, etc. This project is small enough that a file folder worked great! That way, you can catch all the loose glitter in the folder or paper, and use the crease to dump it neatly back into your glitter jar, leaving not a speck to be found. Hehe…

Doing one seam at a time, apply glue to the edge. Here’s where a thicker tacky glue might be helpful as it will be less drippy. But, you’ll want to get your glue on, and then quickly pour glitter on it before it drips away on you, which is why I apply glue and then glitter to one “rib” at a time…

This part may require some breaks to let the glue dry. I start with the top ribs, then go around to the side strip. Then, I let it sit and dry before turning it over and doing the bottom ones.

Notice my orange file folder catching every single speck of glitter?! Amazing, huh? We don’t have ANY loose glitter specks around our house…nope, not a one! 😉

Done!

Once they dry, hang them wherever you wish! These are pretty and simple, a fun way to get your kids into recycling, and a great way to honor all those friends and family who have taken the time to send you cards. If you can find glue that will work well, you can even try making these with photo cards, and have all your friends and family’s faces on them! And, like I said, you can even shrink down the template to create smaller ornaments, which would also enable you to get several circles out of one card.

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How to Paint a Sweater Texture

Just in time for your ugly Christmas sweater paintings, I’ve put together a super quick video to show you how to create a cable knit sweater texture! It looks super detailed, but really it’s just a matter of finding the right sized tools to make the size knit you want, and then repeating a pattern of short strokes and “stamps” with a petal brush. Enjoy!!

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Christmas Window Painting

Yesterday I had the pleasure of painting some fun holiday windows for Lake Harriet Florist in Minneapolis! I was contacted on Monday for a quote, got them a price and sketches based on what they were looking for, and was already out there painting on Thursday! I moved pretty quickly with this one since Thursday was forecasted to be an unseasonably warm day, reaching the 50’s! It was a perfect day for painting, and such a beautiful storefront with nice windows. They were kind enough to remove the pretty planters and spruce tips that were in front of the windows so I’d have space to work…so I’ll have to get another photo with THEIR beautiful work once they put it all back! Lake Harriet Florist create STUNNING flower arrangements…if you’re looking for some really incredible flowers and live in the Twin Cities, I’d highly recommend supporting this talented small business who also supported my small business! Spread the local business love!

These were so much fun to paint! The client wanted to steer clear of being too cartoony, so I toned down the outlines with a dark gray instead of a black. That way I could still make the colors pop without dark outlines. It’s hard to tell in the photos here but this was the first time I experimented with metallic silver paint! I used metallic silver as the background of the holly ornament, and on all of the tops of each ornament. It turned out pretty cool!

Process photos…

I was there for about 6 hours, from the time I pulled up to the time I cleaned up. It took about an hour to get the windows all cleaned and prepped and sketch out the design. A little over an hour to do the white (since that included all the “dangles” above), and then the rest was painting! I brought a fan along and was able to paint pretty much non stop, moving the fan to dry as I went on to another section.

Here’s a time lapse video! My GoPro at one point decided to switch from time lapse mode to normal recording, so it either ran out of space or battery before the end, but this will show you some of the process.

Check out the website and fill out our request for quote form if you’re interested in having your business windows painted!

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Glitter Glamper Progress: Epoxy Resin Glitter Backsplash

Yesterday I finally started blogging about my process of turning my 1963 Shasta into THE Glitter Glamper! I shared some of the uglier work yesterday: removing a little rot, fixing a dent and sealing up holes. Today I thought I’d share one of the “prettier” projects: the glitter backsplash!

As I mentioned last time, the interior of this camper is so beautifully original that, while I need and want to transform it to scream “Glitter Glamper,” I still want to achieve this while preserving the original state underneath. I need to brighten it up overall so that I can get great lighting to work in, and also create an environment that feels unmistakably and unforgettably “Glitter Glamper” to my guests. Yes, this has created significantly more time and expense versus just painting over everything with white and coating it with glitter, however, I am enjoying the process so far and loving the results!

I knew that the area between the countertops and cabinets presented a great opportunity to inject some glitter, by way of a backsplash. I explored a few options, from glitter wallpaper to a gem mosaic and everything in between, but in my mind they all started with cut panels that could be put up and removed if I wanted to later. In order to achieve the ultimate in glittery-ness (yup, that’s a word I have full authority to create as a glitterologist, haha!), I decided to go with a poured resin and super chunky glitter. This would enable me to use big, sparkly glitter but still seal it up in a durable, wipe-able surface that can easily be kept clean without glitter constantly shedding!

I started by purchasing some pressed hardboard from Home Depot, and cut panels to fit above the counter, carefully measuring to make sure it fit around outlets, the window, etc. When going for a solid, uniform color coverage with glitter, just as I would paint the skin under one of my glitter “wannabeards” before applying the same color glitter, I want to lay down some paint as a background. This gives the illusion of full, opaque coverage of glitter, even if you may have spots here and there where glitter has fallen off or isn’t as thick. I went with a white base coat here, because I’m using silver glitter. A gray would work too, but my goal is brightness and silver reflects white as well, so it was perfect! Not only did the white paint give me a more even look, but it helps seal up the wood, so it took less glue and less resin in the end. I painted the back, front and edges of each piece and allowed them to dry. Then on to the fun part…

I bought a couple 1 lb jars of chunky glitter from the craft store. (Note: we do not EVER use metallic craft glitter on skin…only cosmetic grade glitter!) I laid each piece of wood on a large piece of tagboard that had been folded in the middle (or newspaper for the longer ones), and then coated the wood with Mod Podge. School glue would work too…but Mod Podge is already watered down glue, so it spreads farther and quicker, which was my goal. After a coating of Mod Podge, I then dumped plenty of glitter over the wet glue and allowed it to dry. Then I carefully lifted the panel and shook off the loose glitter, set it aside, folded the paper and funneled the extra back into the jar.

Pouring the Resin

Before pouring the resin, there is a bit of prep work to do. You have to prepare a very level surface to work on, as gravity will spread your resin out, and you want it to be an even thickness. I used my kitchen counter, and covered it with many layers of newspaper, to protect it if any resin spilled over. (For the next round I laid out painters’ plastic, which is better as it won’t soak up resin like newspaper!) Also, make sure that you have the ability to leave your pieces there for 24 hours to set, where it will remain stable, level, and free of floating particles of dust or whatever! Making dinner was tricky around this and made me a little nervous, but it worked out just fine.

Then, you have to create some sort of “fence” around whatever you are pouring resin onto, of course, to keep it from just pouring off the edge. I used painters tape and went around all edges, making sure to fold it under and rub it tightly against the underside of the wood to contain the resin while it was still liquid.

Here is what I used for my resin:

Whatever resin you use, make sure to carefully read and follow the directions! I got out some paper cups to pour each part into, and then a cool whip bowl to mix them together in. I also got out a couple plastic knives and a foam brush to help spread the resin. Different brands will have different amounts of time that the resin is work-abe, before it hardens. Pay attention to that, as you only have so much time to spread it before it sets up.

Pour out equal parts of resin into the paper cups to ensure you have an equal amount of both resin and hardener. Then, pour the two cups together in your larger container, and mix. Make sure to mix it well…epoxy resin is a chemical process that requires equal parts and thorough mixing! Once I had it well mixed, I slowly drizzled it over the glitter, trying to distribute it as evenly as I could. Then, I used the foam brush (and plastic knives for the tighter corners) to make sure that it was spread out and covering all of the glitter.

Get down low so you can catch a reflection in your resin. This will show you where you may need to add more, spread it out, etc. The act of mixing resin will undoubtedly fill it with lots of bubbles. When doing a smaller project, all you need to do is get down close and exhale over the surface, and you’ll see the bubbles rise and pop! For this I took a heat gun and ran it over all the surfaces. A hair dryer would probably also work, though a heat gun blows less and will disturb the surface less. The heat causes the bubbles to rise and pop. Be careful not to burn your project! With this particular project, air bubbles were virtually unnoticeable anyway because of all the light bouncing around inside from the glitter. However, removing them helps it to be smooth and strong.

There is one little ledge area above the fridge where I had a lip on the panels, to hold things in during transit. Since a couple inches of the back of my panels was visible here, I glued some fun fabric on that edge. When installing each panel, I first drilled pilot holes so as not to crack the resin when I screwed it in. Everything went up beautifully with minimal screws!

There were just a few edges that showed in the end, including this little ledge where I had the fabric backer, so I covered those with some bling-y trim and a glue gun.

Overall I LOVE how it turned out. Photos truly do NOT capture the amount of depth and sparkle in this! I love it so much, that I’m toying with the idea of an epoxy resin flooring as well. We shall see…that may be a project for spring! In the meantime, this turned out exactly as I had imagined, and consider it a big win in achieving my intense glittery-ness and remove-ability!

Thanks for stopping by…Stay tuned for more updates on the progress! 🙂