Friday, June 22, 2012

I have moved my blog to my website - please visit my blog page on JaiArt.Com :)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Love Letters

My new series of artistic photography features a group of florals I'm working on called Love Letters.  The inspiration began with my neighbor's gorgeous garden and the beautiful flowers within.  To further inspire me, however, is the story of this delightful couple who lives next door to me.

Earl and June have been married over 60 years now.  Their son told me their story.  It began when they were very, very young.  Earl was 16 and June just 14.  Both still in school, but they had fallen in love. They decided they wanted to get married -- but they didn't want to tell their parents just yet.  So they eloped for the day.  To their parents, they were just having a normal "date".  When in reality, they ran off to find a justice of the peace who would marry them.  They had their ceremony, and came home, marriage certificate in hand.  They each went to their respective houses and continued on with their lives, as if nothing had changed.  But they knew in their hearts, their commitment had been sealed.

It wasn't long after, June's mother discovered the truth.  If I remember correctly, she found the marriage license June had hidden in her room.  Her mother and father had a sit down with June in the living room, and told her quite frankly, "You're a married woman now, you must go live with your husband and be a wife."  So Earl and June moved in together and began living as husband and wife.

Fast forward 60+ years.  They're still together.  Two children later, grown grandchildren, the passage of long careers for both of them, and they're retired now.  They still act like teenagers sometimes.  They always speak to everyone with respect and kindness, and they still speak to each other that way too.  June's passion is her flowers and her beautiful garden.  Earl loves to work in the yard and he also makes the most beautiful hand carved wooden canes in his shop behind his home.  It's a joy to watch the two of them, and even more precious is the love, dedication, and commitment this couple has for one another.

This series "Love Letters" features my artistic photographs of June's beautiful blooms.  And it features the handwritten text of antique love letters, some dating back over 100 years.  Each piece of art in this series is a tribute to true, long lasting, beautiful love, which seems to be a scarcity in our world today.  My hope is that by viewing these works of art, you will know, it's not an impossibility.  There is a chance for true, romantic love to prevail.


P.S.  Watch the series unfold by following my Artistic Photography board on Pinterest.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Is it a painting? Or a photograph?

Actually, it's BOTH. Hello there! Thanks for stopping by, and I apologize for neglecting my blog again. It's wedding season, and almost time for graduation and I've been super busy creating new invitations for my Artful Memory Shop. I've also been working on an Iris photo project for my website, and I've just completed it. The series is called Garden of Irises and will soon be published as a photobook.

And....I've been learning some new and cool techniques to make my photos even more unique.  I just recently purchased a new lens and am getting fabulous photos with it -- BUT -- some photos don't always have the look or the feel I imagined when I shot the picture.  I have learned some new techniques using a combination of textures, multiple layers, color altering, and digital painting and have finally started uploading some of my new works.  The question I hear most is "Is that a painting? Or a photo?"  Well, it's BOTH.  It's a photo which takes on the characteristics and feel of a painting by the time I'm finished.

Today, I want to share an example with you.  Below is my original landscape photo, taken at the lake at Cypress Park here in Jackson, TN:

Not. Very. Exciting.  While it's a beautiful place to go, the water was extremely muddy (due to flooding not long before I visited), and the water also took on the green of the trees, making everything way to green for my liking in this landscape.  I prefer warm, rich oranges, reds, and golden yellows in landscape paintings.  Light.  I like light...especially the glow of the sun.  While it was sunny on this day at the park, my camera was just so overwhelmed with the greens and brown in the water, it didn't pick up the sunny warmth I wanted.

So I went to work and created the work of art below.  I call it a "paintograph" - combination of a photo and a painting.

NOW - this is much better!  There's my sunlight, my warm glow I'm looking for!  I brought a sense of impending Autumn into the trees, and I added a warm, glowing texture over the entire photo.  I brought the yellow and orange glow up to the sky.  I added some ducks I'd photographed at a local pond, because I thought they'd make an interesting addition to the art.  This is actually how I FELT when I was at the park - an overwhelming sense of wonder and awe at the beauty and the peace.  So I took what I felt and painted it into this photograph.  I enjoyed sitting on the bench out on the walk out bridge when I was there, but now, I feel I can step into this new vision and enjoy it even more.

This is just one of the artistic photographs I've completed lately.  Stop by my gallery on my website to see more.  Also, follow my Artistic Photography Board on Pinterest to keep up with the newest works of art.  I have many more landscapes I'm working on, as well as my traditional florals and birds and animals I love so much!


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

STRENGTH, March 13, 2012 Encouraging Squirrel Photo

STRENGTH: All the strength you seek is within yourself. Featuring a fun photograph of a squirrel standing up and looking strong with a nut in his mouth.

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Monday, March 12, 2012

SHINE, March 12, 2012 Encouraging Pink and Yellow Flower Photo

SHINE: Let your light SHINE into the lives of those who need it most. Featuring a photo of two beautiful flowers - one golden yellow and one rich fuchsia pink. Photograph taken in Jackson, TN at the agricultural center.

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Sunday, March 11, 2012

DETERMINED, March 11, 2012, Encouraging Cat Photo

DETERMINED: Always remain DETERMINED in following your own path. Featuring my tabby cat sitting on a stone path photograph.

I hope you all are enjoying my motivational, inspirational and encouraging photos!  All are available as prints and on merchandise on my website.  My goal is to complete one each day for you!  You can subscribe to my posts and blog in your feeder to be able to see the new one each day. :)

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CURIOSITY, March 10, 2012 Inspirational Cat Photo

CURIOSITY: Embrace your CURIOSITY and life will always be new and interesting. Featuring my tabby cat looking in a window photograph.

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PERSISTENCE, March 9, 2012 Inspirational Photo

PERSISTENCE: When the world says give up, PERSISTENCE says try it ONE MORE TIME. Featuring my bumble bee on a yellow flower photograph.

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Thursday, March 8, 2012

Blessing, March 8, 2012 Inspirational Photo

Today's inspirational photo:

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Red Shouldered Hawks

We have some new friends in the neighborhood - a pair of Red Shouldered Hawks are building a nest.  Above is a slide show of the photos I've taken so far.  According to a neighbor who has been keeping up with the species of birds here for over 30 years, this bird has not been here before.  It has now been added to the species list and it's bird breed #39 who has spent time here.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Kitchen Redo - The Finale

See Kitchen Redo Part 2 to see the previous details of this minor remodel.  The walls are painted, the hideous wallpaper gone.  Artwork has been hung, and Biskit the parakeet is happy to be back in his location in the center of everything.

The artwork can actually be seen now!  Before, the busyness of the 70's wallpaper took over.

The new slate peel and stick tile floor has been installed - at least up to the laundry room door.  I worked on this until 8:30 last night, and didn't have it in me to continue on into the laundry room just yet...but I will eventually.  Bye bye green and yellow flower linoleum!  I love the stone look of the new tiles - here's a closeup of the pattern in them:

A creamy background with light and medium tan colors, along with a hint of light grey blends perfectly in the kitchen.  Feels good on the feet too!

I stopped just in front of the laundry room door.  But I still have enough tiles left to go on into that room as well.

Just for comparison...a before and after shot of the floor -- click on the photo to see it larger.

Now I think I'll go to bed for a week. :)  This job, while inexpensive (under $500 for everything I've done here!), was very exhausting.  But I love my "new" kitchen.


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Kitchen Redo Part 2

In this blog post, I shared my inspiration photo of a piece of granite which has the look and colors I wanted to use to redo my hideous countertops (above).  In part one of my kitchen redo, I shared photos of everything I had to work with (or against!) in this kitchen.  Originally, the project was just going to include the counters and kitchen cabinet hardware -- but of course, once I got started, I couldn't stop there! :)

In the photo above, I've begun covering the clean and dry old, ugly counters with the Duck Granite contact paper.  This paper has a nice tan color, with little flecks of gray, black and gold, and it will serve as my base color for the counters.  I could have painted a base color, but it would have included a lot more work including sanding (=dust), and more paint (I'm very chemically sensitive, so I wanted as little "smells" as possible in this project).  I picked up the Duck brand contact paper at Lowes - it's MUCH sturdier and better quality than your traditional contact papers we're used to lining drawers and cabinets with.  I bought 7 rolls ($49) to do this kitchen, and I have enough scrap pieces left to do repairs if necessary in the future.  The above photo shows part of the counter with and without paper applied.  There will be paint colors sponged onto this paper after it's all applied to create the look of the granite.

I got sidetracked here, adding the new cabinet hardware on the doors and drawers (about $120 for all).  The silver really dressed up these cabinets!

My son put up the new, adorable key holder for me.  Totally an optional accessory, but I saw it at Lowes and loved it ($7).

Originally, I was just going to create a stone tile back splash behind the stove.  However...see how the stove is kind of enclosed in that corner?  The heat tends to really sit in that corner, and I was worried about putting my contact paper application in that I decided to tile it all.  Tumbled marble 4" stone tiles from Lowes (36 cents each), and two sheets of mosaic matching stone and glass tiles ($22) enabled me to create a nice pattern all the way around the side and back of the stove, including up the wall onto the back splash.  I used a fabulous product by Bondera to stick the tiles to the counter and the wall.  It's like double-stick tape to the extreme and works VERY well!

Here's a photo of the completed back splash with the tile.  The white counter areas will all be covered with the contact paper and paint.

Max is observing everything with interest. :)

I got sidetracked again with some of the extra tiles and made this tile trivet for setting hot pots or bowls on - because they won't be going on my new counter!  See the lovely burn mark in the counter the previous owners left us?  I don't want that to happen.  Down in my studio, I found a plain 8x10 piece of wood with a fancy beveled edge.  I placed the Bondera tape onto the top of the wood, added 4 big tiles and made a pattern with the mosaic tiles in the center.  Then I took about a tablespoon of burnt umber (brown) acrylic paint and put it on a paper plate.  I took a paper towel, wet it and squeezed out the excess water.  I dipped the towel into the paint and smoothed it all around the beveled edge to create a nice stained edge to the bare wood.  After drying, I added felt circles to the bottom - it will now slide across the new counter without damaging the finish.  And viola!  I have a custom trivet which matches my back splash! back to the original project...the counters:

One side of the counters, totally covered in the contact paper.

And the other side...bye bye burn mark!  Now it's time to make them look like granite.  I was able to get most of the bubbles and creases out, however, there's a few creases I couldn't get matter how much I tried.  The painting I'm getting ready to do should "hide" them enough where they look like part of the design.  Overall - 95% of the counters are smooth with no creases.

I sponge painted glossy black acrylic all over the contact paper.  Then I sponge painted a little burnt umber (chocolate brown color) here and there on top of the black.  I went easy on the brown because of all the wood we have in the kitchen, but I wanted to pull in some of the wood color into the counters.

I let the paint dry overnight (since it was plain old acrylic craft paint, it dries very fast).  The next day, I began applying a product I purchased for a sealer - Minwax Polycrylic Clear Gloss.  I applied one coat over the entire counter, then allowed everything to dry for 2 hours.  Then I applied another coat and allowed that to dry overnight.

Standing back and looking at it, the counters look FAB!  Very rich and elegant.  But that wallpaper in the dining area and trim above the cabinets will have to go.  And that floor....I MUST do something with that too!

The next day, the appliances were placed back in their respective spots.

See  my red X's?  Wallpaper. Floor.  Must change!!!

Before and after counter views (above and below).

Do you notice that little light glowing on the new counters?  Let me tell you about this cool idea!

These battery operated, silver lights are from Lowes (2 in a package for $25, includes batteries).  Push any of those 3 elongated buttons to turn them on and off.  Now...these lights have a piece of sticky tape on the back -- AND -- a magnet.  Piece of advice?  SKIP THE STICKY TAPE.  It won't hold.  See that metal?  A Lowes employee helped me find it.  It's 3 feet long and has holes in it.  Mount that metal centered under the cabinets and just allow the magnet from the light to hold to that metal.  The best thing about this is you can slide the lights anywhere along the metal strip to shine them where you want them to go.  The lights will automatically shut off after 30 minutes to save battery life.  I've only bought 2 lights, but will be getting another metal strip and lights for the other side of the counters.

Here's another fun accessory.  These are curtain tie backs I found at Lowes.  They have a mosaic marble round ball on them, and the metal is silver.  We mounted one of these on the side of each cabinet at the sink area to hang kitchen towels on.  Very cute, don't you think? :)

Remember that wallpaper and trim above the cabinets?  It's gone!  Well, not gone, but covered up with a nice medium taupe (tan) colored paint.  The husband and kids completed the painting project yesterday.

No more ugly 70's wallpaper with green and yellow!  HOORAY!

Today, we'll hang the artwork back on the dining area walls.  And today is also FLOOR DAY.  Yippee! Yep, I'm covering up the hideous green and yellow vinyl sheet floor with peel and stick floor tiles in a creamy slate, with shades of tan (to blend with the counters and walls) and light gray (to blend with the new cabinet hardware).  I hope and pray the peel and stick project will work.  It's debatable...some people have had great results and some have not.  We're going to give it a try in the kitchen area, and if it works well, we'll do the laundry room (attached to the kitchen) and the dining area (also attached).

To redo this kitchen and work with my wood instead of against it cost under $500 (including the floor tiles we haven't done yet).  As I add more fun accessories like more lights, etc, it might cost more.

Some tips on the contact paper/painted counters:

1) Don't set anything hot on the counters.  Use tile or metal trivets.
2) Buy a large wooden cutting board to put on the counter ($10-$20) when you're going to use a portable appliance which gets hot, such as a crockpot or waffle maker.  Set the appliance on top of the wood cutting board while using it - this way, the board will take the heat instead of your new counter.
3) Take extra tiles (I had a couple more from the back splash) and add felt rounds or squares to the bottom.  Leave these in various places on the counter in order to set a glass which may "sweat".  This keeps the sweat from the wet glass off the counters.  If you set a wet glass or leave water standing on the counter for a long period of time, the polycrylic coating will cause a white "ring" or spot to appear.  Don't worry, the white will disappear again after it's dry!
4) If you use a chemical to clean and disinfect your counters, be sure to get it all wiped up.  If you leave a harsh chemical substance on the counter, it could possibly eat away at the polycrylic coating.  So make sure to wipe it all up well.
5) Obviously, don't "cut" food items on the counters directly, as you could damage your counter surface. I always use a cutting board or plate to cut food on, rather than the counter surface, and I think most people do, but it's just something to keep in mind with this type of counter finish.

Stay tuned for another final blog post and photos after we do the tile floor!


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Kitchen Redo Part 1

Before I get started on my big kitchen counter redo, I thought I'd share some photos of what I've got to work with here.  White counters, with a green veined/marbled pattern in them.  Against my brown wood (with dark wood grain and golden tones) paneled cabinetry.  So I've decided not to change the color of the wood, but work with it.  I just can't stand the high contrast of the wood with the white counters (which were damaged and stained before we moved in).  Since I've decided to leave the cabinetry alone, the counters will be getting a remodel.

Here's the other counter.

The cabinet hardware is probably about 30 years old.  I've decided to upgrade it in brushed stainless hardware to match some of the newer appliances.  My son will be replacing the hardware for me today while I'm at work.  The cabinets should all look like this when I get home:

Eventually, I'll also get knobs or drawer pulls for the 15 drawers, as well as updated hinges for all of these cabinets.  But for now, I'm focused on getting the counters complete.

How do you like that avocado green stove? :)  Eventually it will be replaced, along with the lovely avocado green venthood above it.  Counters first though!  See that lovely burn mark near the stove?  We've lived with that for 10 years and I'm so ready to cover that up!  I've also got a unique tile backsplash plan for that paneled area above the stove top.  But....counters first.

How do you love my pile of receipts and junk under the board we've been using to hang keys on for years?  Lovely, isn't it!  IT'S ALL GOING.  The receipts and papers we need to keep will be contained.  And my son will be putting up the new keyholder today.  We have to get this area of the counters cleaned off so I can begin the counter project.  Which will be starting very soon!


Tuesday, January 31, 2012

New Project - a Kitchen Counter Re-do

I know, I know, I've been lax with my photo-a-day project.  I have plenty of excuses though!  I've been very busy with ArtfulMemory.Com and new drawings for the Torn Paper Design series as well as many other designs for that store.  And I'm still working my part-time job more than I'd like.  Soon, however, you'll see some photos here, but not necessarily what you'd expect out of me!  I'm getting ready to start a major project in my kitchen - I'm preparing to "resurface" my old, ugly, outdated, chipped, stained and worn kitchen counter tops in a unique, DIY way. :)

Above you'll see a sneak peek of how the counters should look when I complete this project.  This is actually a granite chip I picked up at Lowes called Bella Noche.  When I get done, I hope the counters will look very similar to this chip as far as color and pattern.

I'll be using very few products.  The main product which will be providing my background color and save me on quite a bit of painting time is Duck GRANITE contact paper.  Here's a photo from the Lowes site, but the colors are not as clear on screen.  The paper has a deep tan color, with some medium gray and a few gold specks here and there.

The colors in this paper match the tan/med gray colors in my granite chip.  I chose this contact paper for a couple of reasons.  First of all, it's thicker than most contact papers.  It's made by DUCK, and Duck Tape is one of my best friends. :) It also has a light sandy "feel" to it, which goes along with the stone look I'm after.  I saw other granite-look contact papers online in various places such as Amazon, but I couldn't find one in the exact colors I wanted.  After feeling several different types and thicknesses/textures of papers in the stores, DUCK clearly won out with quality and thickness -- and I wasn't sure how these online ones would feel, nor would I be able to tell their thickness online.

Our cabinets are 1970s paneling - not too dark wood, but they do have a dark brownish-black wood grain running through them, and they have a golden hue to them. (you'll see photos soon) I was going to paint the cabinets a lighter color - I did a test on the inside of one cabinet door, and just didn't like it.  Not to mention, the paint came right off with a light wiping, days after drying. NOT wood just does NOT want to be painted!  Since this wood paneling is also prevalent in the attached dining area and HUGE living room, I decided work with the wood and it's colors rather than try to change it.

I'm very chemically sensitive and didn't want the mess of dust from sanding down cabinets inside, as well as the strong smell of paint.  I also felt if I changed the kitchen wood colors, then I'd feel a need to change the dining room wood colors, and then the living room (as I mentioned above - it's HUGE!), and then the ceiling beams, and then the built in wood bookshelves, and so on.  So I looked at things a different way and decided changing the counters (which are white with green running through them and have obvious surface problems from years of wear and tear), and changing the cabinet hardware, and changing the wallpaper at the top of the kitchen as well as the top of the dining room walls, would be the easier, cheaper, and less chemically invasive way to go for me for right now.

We've already changed a few appliance items in the kitchen - the fridge, the microwave, the dishwasher, and the toaster are all silver/black (stainless look).  I still have to eventually do something with my sink, stovetop/venthood, and double ovens....which are all....AVOCADO GREEN.  Unfortunately changing those appliances is out of budget for me at the moment, and I want a nicer looking kitchen NOW.  My patience has run out!

So here's the plan, and I'll share it here on this blog, even though it has nothing to do with my art (well, I guess it is pretty artistic...). :)  The first step in the plan is to get the junk off the counters, and heavily clean them.  The second step will be to apply the tan/gray granite contact paper.  The third step will be to add my paint colors to the top (via sponges and/or wadded up paper towels to create the textured stone look).  And the fourth step will be to roll on a polycrylic coating for protection.

I did see some other products online I thought about getting before coming up with my method above.  For example, there is a highly recommended system by Giani Granite, but I figured I would need two kits at least for my kitchen, and that was more than I wanted to spend.  I'm being careful with my budget - I've spent just under $80 so far, and I think I'll have supplies left over to do some accessories or repairs in the future if necessary.  I still have to buy all of that cabinet hardware I need (knobs, drawer pulls, and hinges for a LOT of cabinets!).  The Giani kit is the same concept though, except I'll have less painting because I'll have the contact paper serving as my base colors.   Another product I looked at was the EZ Faux Granite Contact Paper. Once again, out of my budget (I would have needed at least two of their 12' rolls @ $90 a roll...), and once again, the colors weren't exactly what I was looking for.

Of course after I'm done with the counters, I'll have to get more accessories to better fix up the display of things ON the counters, as well as get and install all the new cabinet hardware, but that's a whole 'nother deal and will come after I get the counter top complete.  So stay tuned - we're going to take before, during and after photos to show you the progress!


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

#11 Horseshoes - Photo A Day - PAD

A collection of horseshoes left over from the good ole days basks in the sun in this deserted barn.