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Abstract Painting Collage

abstract collage

Cutting up pieces of my abstract paintings into polygon (ish) shapes and then creating collages is one of my favorite ways of creating art. I love mixing and matching colors that I wouldn’t usually think to put together- although, sometimes my OCD kicks in and I spend hours gluing and ripping off, and cutting down shapes, hoping to make the “perfect” piece.

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More of my sketchbook pages.

 

 

floral sketchbook page quote

 

The start of a new year means a new sketchbook. I get really excited about starting a new journal- especially at the beginning of a new year. It literally allows me to turn a fresh page in my life and re-organize, reflect and motivate. I’ve been slowly compiling pictures of some of my sketchbook pages from this past year or so and funny, I never realized before just how often my pages center around a quote or lyric that is inspiring me at that time. I think because a big part of the reason I keep a journal is to motivate me and to help me stay positive. Oh, I also apparently am big on bright colors and florals.

 

 

 

 

 

sketchbookpagejessross

also, I’m really interested to know (for any fellow art journalists who stumbles across this page)…what your favorite sketchbook/journal is(Mixed media paper, watercolor paper, bound, spiral, small, large….)? I have over 30 journals and have tried all different types and sizes and I am starting to narrow it down to my favorites but I still feel like my perfect sketchbook is out there somewhere undiscovered and waiting. just really want a large sized sketchbook with pages that don’t bleed through…I like the watercolor moleskine sketchbook but it didn’t have very many pages and was quite expensive.
Here are my go tos:

The Moleskine Art Plus Watercolor Album

(12″ X 8.5″) Professional Folio Series, Hardcover $27.37

click on the picture to view in Amazon

pros: thick, heavyweight, high quality watercolor paper, super absorbent and doesn’t bleed through.

cons: expensive & only has 60 pages while most sketchbooks have at least 100 pages.

 

The Canson 180-Degree Art Book ($13.79)

(8.3′ x 11.7″) 80 sheets 

canson art sketchbook, click picture to view in amazon

Pros:  Lays flat, nice design

Cons: Paper is not high quality, and poor quality paper, rips easily

Strathmore Hardbound 500 Series Mixed Media Art Journal

(11.5″ x 8.5″, 64 Pages)

Strathmore Sketchbook, Click picture to view in Amazon

Pros: Great size and Price

Cons:

 

stormsrootsstitched together quote rjournalpagemixed media sketchbook page lyricsWhat inspires you? Do you have a favorite medium when journaling? What is your go-to when you are sketching or journaling… I always wish I wrote more….  but I never do….abstract ocean blue sketchbook page
journal illustration page

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An Easy and Fun DIY Abstract Art Project Tutorial for All Ages!

abstract art ideas

 

I can’t help that my natural artistic impulses are the same as every 2 year old who has just been given their first ever box of crayons (to take all the colors, smash them together, color all the paper,  mess all over the floor and then take a nap curled up in the eye of the hurricane). I swear I have every intention of trying to become a decent artist when I get out my graphite pencils and little eraser to practice sketching. Somehow though, I always end up on the floor surrounded by paint in every color and shade available. But Im at my happiest and  most inspired making my kaleidoscopic messes…

Abstract Geometric Watercolor Artwork by Yao Cheng

I happened to spot the inspiration for this DIY art project in an advertisement in House Beautiful magazine for minted.com. I ripped it right out (don’t worry, it was my copy!) , taped it to my wall and started to go to work on my own version. Later, I was able to investigate further and discovered (thank you pinterest) that the Artist’s is Yao Cheng, she specials in beautiful watercolor paintings and her online store on Minted’s website is FULL of stunning watercolor prints. The above piece and the object of inspiration is “Hexagon Cluster,” and you can purchase  her Limited Edition of Hexagon Cluster print on Minted (or click through the links) for anywhere from $20 to $200 depending on size and finish.

Here is everything you will need to make it:

1) watercolor paints (the Kids Crayola watercolors work just fine) and paper (brushes and cups of water as well)

I suggest the following liquid watercolors for bright, vibrant colors:

Sargent Art 8-Ounce Watercolor Magic Set (10 different watercolors for $49.95)

click on picture to view in Amazon

or Dr. Phil’s Concentrated Watercolors (my personal favorites) They average about $5.00 a bottle or a set of 14 is around $69.99.

Dr Phil’s Concentrated Watercolors (click pic to view in Amazon)

2) Watercolor Paper Pad

For the best price and quality, I suggest Strathmore 360900 Cold Press 140-Pound 12-Sheets Strathmore Watercolor Paper Pad, 9-Inch by 12-Inch, which is only around $7.00, also available on Amazon

Click photo to purchase in Amazon

 

3) Thick, heavyweight white paper Mixed Media paper works well, just something to hold the weight of mixed media and glue without tapering.

4) Scissors and a gluestick!

The How To:

The steps to making this DIY project are super simple.  But since I’m not sure of how the original artist created her stunning piece so I’ll tell you how I made my version.

1) Get out your watercolors and watercolor paper and go crazy (this is one of my favorite things in the world to do). You don’t need any fancy paper or expensive watercolors. In fact, I mostly used plain old, reliable Crayola Washable Watercolors  (available in probably every single pharmacy and grocery store in America).   because I had just moved to Grand Rapids from Chicago when I got this project itch, I had none of my supplies and couldn’t wait a few days till I went home again.

* Try experimenting with colors…I love playing with colors and mixing and matching up colors I wouldn’t usually put together while doing this…I tend to lean towards bright, bold, colors but what I love about Cheng’s is that she uses subtle, subdued colors with a pop of bold color that makes the piece stand out. Her use of subtle tones and light/grey hues accentuates the rich blues and the  subtle use of warm orange colors all come together to create a vibrant, yet refreshingly simple and peaceful piece of art that would compliment many differently styled rooms.

2) Using a ruler or something to help you draw straight lines, trace out 20-30 hexagons (6 sided shapes). Make sure to make all different sized hexagons..the sides don’t necessarily have to be symmetrical or have all equal lengths..this will help to add to the abstract and organic feeling of the piece.

3) Arrange them in a way you like on your heavyweight art board..the only rule I used for myself was that each shape has to be touching another shape by at least one point..I think this helps adds continuity and fluidity of the artwork and helps guide the viewer’s eye from each unique hexagon to the next.

I also tried another technique and did one piece where all the sides of the shapes had to be touching sides perfectly..this one took a little more time and a lot of cutting down shapes to fit better…

DIY abstract art project

4) admire, frame and hang!

Here are a few that I did, as you can see, I have a hard time using natural and subtle colors- which I think makes my finished pieces a little to “in your face.” But to each their own!

DIY Abstract Shape Art Project

abstract diy shape project

 

And that is it my friends!

 

 

 

 

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How to Make Your Own Layered Boho Statement Necklace

As a kid, I loved going through my fabulous grandma’s costume jewelry collection. I could never narrow it down to one or even two favorite accessories, and instead piled as many necklaces on as my little kid neck would allow.

So, once I became aware that layered statement necklaces were an actual trend and saw necklaces like Dylanex’s Falkor ($890):

f78f8ca8151b3755c1d4d2e2c3101584

And Nasty Gal’s Coined It Necklace (only $55!)

45758.0.detail

 

Another one of Dylanex’s amazing necklaces, the Bowie ($820)

 

 

 

 

 

424f2f3a1e58f50d9685bd31c3209a27and Urban Outfitters’  Medina ($68)

medina

I have been trying to create my own cheaper “DIY” version. I quickly realized it’s not quite as easy as throwing on every silver necklace I own and walking out the door. I feel like I am constantly walking a fine line between “fashionable” and “mentally unstable homeless person”, when it comes to my personal style.  It was actually pretty difficult to mix and match pieces together to create something tasteful and stylish (and doesn’t look like I raided my Grandma’s costume jewelry with my eyes closed). I ended up with two layered statement pieces: one silver and one gold…Usually, I prefer gold colored jewelry but there are a lot of awesome silver metal boho statement necklaces out there to choose from.


IMG_7493
My necklaces are the Coin Fringe Pendant Necklace ($12.50) from Forever21 

coin fringe pendant necklace

and the Silver Tribal Necklace from World Market ($14.99)

silver tribal statement necklace

And my  second “gold” colored layered necklace:

boho layered statement necklaces

There are definite pros and cons to trying to making your own Layered Boho Statement Necklace piece.

pros: cheaper, unique, and more layering options when you buy each individual necklace.

 

cons: tangled mess of chains errrrvywhrrrr.

 

http://www.avantlink.com/product_ad_widget/paw.php?pawid=96079&pw=166207&output=js

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How to Build Your Own Terrarium Tutorial

howtobuildaterrarium

 

Last week,  I visited the absolutely amazing Downtown Market in Grand Rapids, Michigan with some friends for the first time to attend a workshop called How to Build A Terrarium. If you are ever in Grand Rapids, you have to visit the Downtown Market. They have the indoor Market Hall, a “culinary collective” of artisan products including a Bakery, Juice Bar, Coffee Bar, Wine Bar, Meat Market, Bake Shoppe, AND gourmet restaurants including: Fish Lads, Rak Thai, Sushi Maki, Tacos El Cunado AND even a Creperie.

Downtown Market

In the summer, they have an Outdoor Market three times a week and in the Fall, every Saturday from 9am to 2pm.

Outdoor Market

Finally, they also offer a full schedule of classes, programs and workshops which include everything from: yoga, cheese making, Introduction to Aromatherapy & Essential Oils, Cooking Classes, Mommy and Me Activities, to Greenhouse workshops. Click Here to see their schedule of upcoming classes. This is where I went with two of my friends to do the How to Build a Terrarium Workshop.  I put together a cheat sheet of the ingredients you will need based on what I learned at the workshop to share with you:

terriarum ingredients

1. First, start by putting about 1 inch layer of gravel at the bottom of your container, to fill up space in the jar and to keep the soil from being to damp.

2. On top of the gravel, put approximately .5in to 1.5in layer of activated charcoal, also to help soak up extra water.

3. Add your cactus/succulent potting soil. The amount of soil you want to use really depends on the size and shape of your container. You want a nice, thick layer so that the soil comes up about to the bottom of your opening.

4. Plant your succulents in the soil. Give them space to breathe.

5. Add your decorative items on the top of the soil after you planted your succulents. This will help weigh the soil down.

Sun Requirements:

* Most succulents need about 6 hours a day of indirect sunlight. Make sure your terrarium is in a cool, well ventilated area.

* It helps to place your terrarium near a south or east facing windows in the winter in order to get maximum sunlight exposure.

* Observe your succulents when they are by windows, as sunlight may be magnified in the glass and can scorch leaves. Adjust accordingly.

Water Requirements:

* In the winter, you may water just once every 2-3 weeks.

* In the summer, it is closer to once a week. Water in the morning.

* If you are unsure, poke your finger in the soil and if it is completely dry then it’s probably a good idea to water it.

succulent terrarum

And voila! You have a start on a green thumb with a lovely & easy and organic terrarium, all your own. Does anyone have any other tips for making terrariums? If you have one, or make one,  I would love to see pictures of them!! succulent

 

XOXXo

jessie. bo.bessies.

 

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presto, pesto!

Yes! My first ever recipe! Yay for me! If you know me,  you probably know that I am not the greatest cook. It isn’t that I don’t like cooking, I just get overwhelmed at the organization process that comes along with cooking and the clean up afterwards. Also, it gets expensive buying ingredients when you are only cooking for one…but someone once told me the only way to get better is to keep trying (and clean as you go). I was inspired by the picture on the cover of a recent Bon Appetit magazine of a delicious and fresh looking pesto pasta:

oOoOoooooh…my mouth was watering just glancing at the cover. I figured pesto pasta could be a good one for me to try because pasta reheats well, I’m a pasta girl and it’s relatively healthy (hence the green color!). What I really liked was that Bon Appetit’s pesto recipe used cilantro (which I LOVE) instead of basil or spinach (which is a little on the bland side for my taste buds) and almonds instead of pine nuts. So, needless to say, I was sold. I ended up tweaking the recipe quite a bit and served it to a group of 15 friends who loved it. One of my pesto pasta tasters, Shana Draugelis, who runs the AMAZING and inspiring blog Ain’t No Mom Jeans, suggested I put the recipe on my blog as a place to share it with friends. So here it is…if you try it let me know what you think, if you changed it or tweaked it or send me pics @ sunlightistheirfashionblog@hotmail.com!
Serves 6 
Ingredients: 
-1 lb spaghetti or linguini noodles
-1 lb chicken (chopped into cubes)
-2 cups chopped fresh cilantro
-2 cups chopped fresh flat leaved parsley leaves
-3/4 cup chopped fresh chives
– 3/4 cup unsalted, roasted almonds
– 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
-1/2 cup finely grated parmesan 
– 1 lemon
– kosher salt
– freshly ground pepper 
– 2 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes (if you like a bit of extra spice!) 
– 4 or 5 large garlic cloves (or less if you don’t care for as much garlic) 
– optional and for the daring…sriracha hot sauce goes amazingly on top of the finished product. 
Directions: (This is the way I have gone about doing it that works best for me and is the fastest)
1. Heat a large pot of water until boiling and in a large skillet heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 or 2 chopped garlic cloves on med to high heat. 
2. Once the skillet is heated, add the chopped chicken cubes. While the chicken is cooking, squeeze 1/2 of the lemon over the chicken and add salt and pepper. (I also added 1 tablespoon of crushed red pepper). 
3.  The water should be boiling by now, so add the pasta and boil on med heat for appx. 6-8 minutes. Once cooked, drain the pasta and set to the side. 
4. In a food processor or blender (food processor works much better at blending!) add the cilantro, parsley, chives, almonds, olive oil, 3-4 garlic cloves, the juice from the other half of the lemon and salt and pepper and blend until the pesto consistency somewhat smooth and paste-like. 
5. In a large bowl serving bowl mix the cooked pasta, the chicken and the pesto together. Top with fresh parmesan cheese and a little sriracha for a kick! 
You will most likely have left over pesto sauce which freezes well and goes great on top of toast,with sliced avacado and fried egg (another idea I stole from Shana!) or throw some on a chicken or turkey sandwich. 
Pesto for days and days! I hope you enjoy, let me know what you think if you tried it and any suggestions for improvement! Hope everyone is having a splendid summer! 

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Simple DIY planters Idea

Since Spring has sprung, I have been feeling like my house is in need of some life and so I decided to buy some house plants. ( I went with Cacti because I figured they needed the least amount of attention) I searched and searched for the perfect planters and couldn’t find them. So naturally, I decided to make my own. I bought this set of three wooden planters at Michael’s craft and chose three colors. Right now, I am really into the corally orange-ish red color, so I got that, a lime green and a turqouise. (also a darker blue for an accent color).

 I repainted them about three times until I kind of got something I liked- I still wasn’t sure about them until I put the cacti in the planters and then I thought the simple and rustic designs kind of went well with the cacti. Painting the cacti planters made me want to branch out a little. So, I bought another plant (this one requires more attention- so we will see how long it lasts 😦 )

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diy recycled wall decor

This is my take on a recycled magazine pages wall decor project that I saw the other day when passing by the window display at J. Crew. These are my favorite projects to do because they are CHEAP (well, basically free!) colorful AND green! A big BANG for a little bitty price. 
Here is J. Crew’s current window display that inspired me: 

Of course, they have done about a MILLION, so I have a LOOONG way to go until mine looks like that…and let’s just be honest…I probably will get bored of doing these, or find something else I want to do before I get enough to make a wall decoration!

All you need are some old magazines, rip out the colorful pages and accordian fold them. I used a glue gun to insure they would stay glued and to give it some rigidness.

I would love to see any pics of any diy art projects you have done lately around your house!

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fun and easy art activity for kids

I love melted rocks. Melted rocks rock. I did this art activity with two 6 and 7 year old boys and I think I enjoyed it more than they did (probably because I wouldn’t let them touch the hot rocks…and you know how boys are…they only want to do what they aren’t allowed to do:) ).  Something about the simplicity of the activity and watching the crayon melt and mix and swirl with the other colors is so relaxing.

You will need:

  • smooth rocks- pick out some rocks from your garden (preferably smooth rocks with flattened tops) or you can buy a bag of river rocks from a craft supply store for fairly cheap. 
  • crayons- The Crayola brand work perfectly fine…I had some oil pastels I also tried using…a few of them worked, the more thicker and more expensive they were, the LESS they worked because they didn’t melt as easy and didn’t mix with the other crayons. ALTHOUGH, saying that, one gold oil pastel I had from Blicks art store turned out to be the best. So, try a few different types and experiment. 
  • an oven- or access to one. 
  • An oven mitts (those babies come out of the oven hot) 
  • Foil paper
  • a large (and preferably old and well used) baking tray
Instructions: 
  •  Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees Farenheit 
  • Wash off and dry the rocks if you grabbed them from the garden
  • Peel the paper off the crayons you want to use 
  • Put foil paper on the oven tray (to keep any melted crayons from getting on the tray)
  • Place the rocks on the tray and put them in the oven for at least 15 minutes (the hotter they are the better) 
  • Take the rocks out using the oven mitt (if you are doing this with children make sure to warn them NOT to place their hands directly onto the rock because they will born themselves) and place them on paper plates or foil sheets
  • Put the crayon onto the surface of the rock and push down firmly for a few moments. Use several different colors to get a colorful effect. 
  • Let them cool. 

and WHALAAA! Glorious- beautimus rocks!

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Felt-tastic Necklaces


Happy New Years!!!! I hope everyone had a fantastically memorable New Years Eve. Mine was definitely memorable but not so much fantastic.  We listened to a really horrible 70’s cover band (in TIGHT COSTUMES!) and watched a bunch of surprisingly limber, but incredibly inappropriate drunk old women dance.  Next year, I’m not even going to try. I will be at my house, with my husband and my dog; which is always what I wish I was doing when I am out on New Years Eve.

Anyways. Back to felt. fantastic felt! felt-tastic.

Felt. I love this stuff! I’ve been hearing a lot about felting crafts in the past few years- it seems to be what all the cool kids are crafting these days- but,  as usual, I am running a little bit behind with the “trends” and have only just fallen in love with felt! And fell hard! 
So I thought I would share this felt flower necklace craft that I’ve adapted from a couple of different crafters….I love Martha Stewart’s fabric flower necklace and have unsucsessfully attempted it several times but my flowers don’t look anything like Martha’s. And I KNOW for a fact that I picked up the felt flowers from some creative and inspiring crafter on the internet but I cannot find the website for the life of me! I’ll add the links in when I find them.  
Making the felt flowers are super easy. All you need are felt squares, which come in so many different bright and fun colors (Michael’s has them for $.29 per 8 x 11″ sheet), permanant marker, craft scissors, tacky glue (the clear kind works the best) and random circular objects of various sizes!  They come in so many bright and fun colors too.  Just trace various sized circular objects and cut them out. 

 The next step is cutting the felt circle by cutting in a circular spiralliing motion. Then, starting from the inside, with the smallest circle, overlap the layers to create wider and wider circles. Dab some clear tacky glue every once in a while on sections of the felt and then a dab of clue and the ending tip to keep it together.

Once you have a good amount of completed felt flowers, (as you can tell from the above pictures of my felt flowers, I got a little OCD and made way more felt flowers than is needed), then you need to make the base of the necklace. I’ve used a kidney bean shape to create a curve around the neck, but you can do anything really. 

 Using needle and thread, arrange the flowers and sew them onto the backing. I also threw in some

colorful beads. 
Thanks to my beautiful friend Mary who was nice enough to be my felt-tastic model!

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salt paintings art project.

I just finished another fun and easy art project with the program members at work. Like alot of the other art projects that have been wildly successful with my students, I found this one by scavenging through the internet. This one had all of the things I look for when trying to find a good art project: fun, easy and cheap. Here is where I found the project if you want to check it out:http://jojoebi.blogspot.com/2010/02/salt-painting.html
I’ve included my own set of directions and some hints and tips I found after doing the project several times. Have fun!
All you need is:
-kosher salt (the bigger the granules the better)
– glue sticks
– water colors & paint brushes
– craft paper
1) The first step is to create a design using the glue stick (I found that the purple colored glue sticks work well b.c. you can see your design better)
2) As soon as you have created the design with the glue stick, quickly pour the salt over the design …and be generous with the salt (If you are helping younger students or your children I usually stand by as they are creating the design and as soon as they are done, I pour the salt…this way more salt sticks to the glue before it has a chance to dry)
3) After letting the salt dry into the glue for a couple of moments (it dries pretty quickly and doesn’t have to be completely dry to start)…the fun can begin!
Dip your paintbrush into your chosen watercolor and a nice dip into a cup of water, then gently tap the top of the paint brush onto the salt design and watch the color absorb into the salt crystals!
tips and hints: Just a couple of things I found that help you make the best out of the project..
-the more colors you use, the more beautiful I think the salt art turns out.
– Also, it is important to tell your students, or those youa re working with, to just gently tap the edge of the brush onto the salt for the best outcome. Some of my students pushed their brushes down onto the salt with a lot of pressure and pushed the salt around with their brushes.
-Finally, it takes a little practice to find the right balance of color and water. If you put too much water onto the salt design it will just become soppy salt soup and if you use too little the color wont spread into the salt crystals.
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adults art autumn developmental disabilities diy easy fall leaf rubbings leaves watercolors

easy and beautiful leaf pressings.

I love Autumn and the changing colors of the leaves and have always collected leaves that I have thought were especially beautiful and stuck them in between pages of my books or journals, or shoved them in my bag.

The only problem is that more often than not, they end up as a crumpled pile of mess in the bottom of my bag or slip out of the pages of my books only to be eaten by my dog (who will eat ANYTHING).

Well, a couple of days ago, I stumbled on to http://www.artfulparent.typepad.com/ and found this Stained Glass Leaf Rubbings project. They are so simple, easy to do, require only paper, crayons and watercolors, and best of all, each one is unique and beautiful.

this colorful little guy on the bottom of the pic is my favorite, one of my favorite students who has autism had the great idea to use mulitple colors.

What I also really like about this project is that ANYONE can do it! The individuals with development disabilities that I work with often have a difficult time doing some more detailed art projects and can become frusturated. The leaf rubbings though is hands on but even those who don’t possess great fine motor skills, have little to no problems with the watercolors and the rubbings (although they may need a little guidance at the beginning).

Now, I can’t stop making them! I am trying to figure out what to do with them…I’m thinking of stringing them up or hanging them from branches…

You can visit here to view directions on how to create the leaf pressings: www.artfulparent.typepad.com/artfulparent/2010/06/stained-glass-leaves.html

…have fun!