Wednesday, December 27, 2017

2017 on the Homestead and in the Studio

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and Happy Holidays to all! It has been a while since I posted here on the studio blog. I decided to take most of the year off after we had our 4th baby this spring. I took a little break with my artwork and focused on settling in the new one to our family. Now that we are all adjusted I thought the New Year would be the perfect time to pick up blogging again and keep my friends, family and followers updated on what is happening around the homestead and in the studio. With that being said here is what you missed over the past year....

The beautiful bride of my cousin had me paint her this sign for their wedding. I had so much fun with the lettering that I added this sign, and more like it, to my Etsy shop. I never use stencils or decals of any kind when I letter my signs I always use the style of my own hand. I think God made us all unique for a reason and I don't want to hide that behind someone else's font in my artwork. The signs in my shop are all made to order so there are slight variations in each.

This happy little guy is baby number 4 for us! Isn't he a cutie! He has kept me busy most day and night along with his 2 brothers and his sister. This is him posing for his homeschool photo... not that he is homeschooled like the other kids but I didn't want to leave him out on picture day. What a treat to have him in our family. 

Speaking of school we have decided to homeschool our kids this year. While the hubby works this is mostly my responsibility, and is a full time job in itself. It is super challenging we have a 3rd, 1st and preschooler, but it is even more rewarding. I love it! I won't really be sharing much of our curriculum here, but I will try to share some of what we do for art class. This is one of our first projects, using a watercolor resist to paint the aurora borealis. We painted these on Strathmore smooth Bristol board paper, which is the paper I like to use for illustrating, and colored our star background with oil crayons followed by a water color wash. 

This was made by my 3 year old.

By my 6 year old.

This is from my 3rd grader. I wasn't quite sure what to expect when I planned this but I am happy with the outcome.

In the past we sold veggies and artwork at a few local markets, but we decided to take the year off from the farmer's markets due to all of the changes going on around here. I didn't want to be totally out of the garden so I grew small white pumpkins for my cousin's autumn wedding along with some under watered tomatoes and peppers that didn't amount to much. The pumpkins looked good though!
Once the school year started and the pumpkins were ready to be harvested things got crazy busy for me. I do some free lance illustrating for a local publishing company, Orange Hat Publishing, and I was chosen to illustrate a children's book called Nutty and the Treasure Map. If this character looks familiar it is because he debuted in a different book called Gary the Garbage Can written by the same author. This book hasn't been released yet we are still doing over the final steps but once it is out I will be sure to try and post about it.

While working on my book illustrations the holiday season came into full swing in my Etsy Shop. This was my first full year with this shop and I really didn't do much with it once the baby was born so I wasn't sure what to expect when the holidays rolled around. Once they did I was super busy selling signs. This one is my favorite and it must be the favorite of other people too be cause it sold like crazy. You can find the listing here. I also make custom signs and sold a few of those as well.

Through out the crazy year our chickens have still been clucking around out back. We haven't increased our flock like we have in previous years but we have just let them do their thing with the sheep in the pasture. We also raised and butchered two of our sheep. I prefer the raising part of that job. I did shear them and am hoping to do something with the wool. If I ever get around to that I will share here on the blog.

Well that's that. I hope to post more regularly in 2018 but if I can't get to it I will be back in December to tell you what I was up to. Have a great New Year and thanks for taking the time to read this!

Friday, February 3, 2017

Farmhouse Friday: Wool Time!

Aside from raising kids and chickens on our little homestead we also raise Icelandic Sheep. My husband, being a chef, wanted to raise them for meat because they have a very mild lamb flavor and they are very hardy for Wisconsin weather. Me on the other hand would prefer to never eat them and just keep them around for the artistic possibilities of their wool... I have lost the battle of keeping vs. butchering the animals.... Before we say goodbye to them every fall we do shear them by hand, and I have grown quite the collection if fleece from these guys and gals.  

When we take on new homesteading projects we always start the process by learning the hands on, old fashioned way of doing things before we move to a modernized version. Sometimes the reasons are economical, sometimes they are just for us to master the still before moving on,  but either way it is always a huge learning process for us. With sheep sheering we started by using a hand sheers rather than using an electric groomer. The reason we made this choice was when we began we only had 3 sheep, and spending $600+ for an electric sheers didn't seem economical. Now that we got the hang of things we haven't really felt the need to move away from a hand sheers, although, we also have never had to sheer more than 2 in a day. Once we grow our flock we may change our mind, it is not very difficult to sheer a sheep by hand but it can be time consuming if you want it done correctly.

We have sheered and saved the wool from our sheep for the past 2 years and I now have a collection that needs to be processed. I figured since I am pretty far along in my pregnancy 8 months now, it might be a good time to sit still and learn a new skill. Again with this process we want to learn how to do it the old fashioned way before we move on and have it processed for us. That means cleaning it by hand, combing (carding) the wool so it is all in one direction, and then spinning it into yarn.  I had washed the wool over the summer so it was ready to use whenever I was ready, and my mom gave me a set of wool carders and a drop spindle for my birthday, so I guess now is the time to try this out.

Like everything else we do around here we learn how to do things by watching videos on you tube and reading books. I found a video from Spin City Yarn that I feel is a great tool to beginning yarn spinning. I plan on using this one to start out.

This is my beautiful new drop spindle purchased at Spin City Yarn the woman from the video makes beautiful art yarn, drop spindles like this one and knitting kits. She has the most vibrant colorful work I suggest checking the link out!

 Once I figure out show to card and spin the wool the next step is figuring out how to use my knitting needles. So far I am a terrible knitter and have a long way to go....but you have to start somewhere!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

A Look inside my Sketchbook: Art Journaling

Today I wanted to share a little snippet of a new project I have been working on... art journaling. I have always had a sketchbook but generally used it for pre planning of illustrations or larger projects, it was never something that I used on a daily basis, and only rarely used just for the sake of creating and experimenting. I wanted to challenge myself to try and create art daily just for the sake of  trying something new. This project was inspired by the Artist Rae Missigman who developed a 30 day art journal challenge where she created daily prompts to jumpstart your creative process on  her blog. All of those who are taking part in the challenge then share their work under #artmarks30daychallenge on  Instagram.  If you follow me on Instagram you may have seen this or be a part of it yourself.

It has been a really fun way to experiment and work more intuitively than I usually do. As I created these I never had an end result in mind I just started with mark making from her journal prompt word and saw what happened. Art journaling is nothing new but it is new to me and it is a challenge for me to work this way. So far I am loving it and see this as something I continue in the future. Here are a few examples of what I have created  (I have more posted on my Instagram profile). I used a wide variety of media  including hand made paper, ephemera, machine stitching, acrylic, watercolor, pencil, markers and feathers for my process. I see these art journal pages moving my art in a new direction.

All the pages shown were created in a hand made spiral bound journal I made using drawing paper and a mix of found scrap papers.

This is my hand made art journal, the cover is a plain brown chip board I am still debating on decorating it or not. I really like the contrast of neutral and vibrant color so I may end up leaving it alone.

 I would love to see more examples of how other people art journal. If you are an art journal artist please share with me a link to your work.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Farmhouse Friday: What's Up for 2017

Winter gets pretty quiet around the homestead. There is no garden to tend to, everything from the fall has been canned for the year, the animals have been groomed and their vet work has been taken care of. The only daily chores we have now are feeding the chickens, giving the sheep their hay and water and collecting the eggs. While we enjoy the quiet time we also need to be looking ahead at our plans for the year. This usually starts when our first seed catalogue arrives in January.

This year will be a little different for us then that last. In the past we worked with a partner to grow produce for the farmer's  market, and this year we have broken away from the partnership to work on our own property. With these changes we have been busy plotting our land for a garden and are now looking at the seeds we need for the year. This is a big leap of faith for us with a new baby arriving at the beginning of the season but we are up for it and excited for the challenge.

Once we have our seed list in its final form I will update here and on Crooked Coop Farm's website with a list of what we will have available along with possible CSA options. So far we have plans to bring as much as we can grow to a Saturday and Wednesday market along with some of our girl's beautiful brown eggs. In years past I have always set up a booth at the market for my art as well, but with baby number 4 making his or her debut I may adjust my schedule and only have a booth set up for a select amount of dates. Again I will update closer to the season with final dates.

In the meantime we are enjoying the rest from the seasonal chaos and are looking forward to the year ahead. Don't forget to check back every Friday for more updates from the homestead, farm fresh recipes and exciting farm plans. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

A Free Coloring Page for You!

I have been really inspired by the decorated bull and deer skulls I have been seeing around lately. Now that I have noticed them it seems like they are everywhere, I have especially been seeing a lot on Etsy, Instagram and Pinterest from some of my favorite shops. What draws me to them most is the eclectic way to bring nature indoors, since I have always felt most at home surrounded by nature so it is only natural for me to bring it into my art and my décor. I have a lot of rocks, shells and antlers around the house but not a full skull. Seeing that I don't have a skull to decorate I did the next best thing and drew one up. And because I like to share I have one for you to color as well. Enjoy!
You can download this free coloring page here.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Updates From the Studio: Making Changes

We are preparing for a new baby to arrive this March, and we are blessed to say this will be baby number 4 for us! To get ready I have been busy moving my studio from the dark basement, upstairs to a little corner in our dining area. I will continue to keep much of my inventory and supplies downstairs but my most used, most loved and most treasured supplies will be upstairs for easy access. Although I did enjoy having my supplies in one area where I could make a mess and it was out of sight, it is not exactly practical around here. With kids and animals to look after I need to be in a place where I can keep an eye on the chaos.

One thing I have learned about working from home with kids is that it is very important to be flexible if you want to accomplish anything. So I will try this new setup out for now and see how it goes. With the schedules of a  newborn, a toddler and two kids in school I think I am making a good choice for my sanity if I want to keep working on my art...which I do.

Eventually I will move my studio out of the house, but while it is here it needs to be where I can realistically get to it. I tried to blend it in with the décor the best I could, but I believe my house is for living not for showing. If it doesn't exactly look just right I will just have to happily live with it.

Here is a few of the newer things I have been working on since my move. The work shown can be seen in my Etsy shop here.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Farmhouse Friday: Meet Crooked Coop Farm

Hello Everyone! Today I am introducing a new segment to  my blog called "Farmhouse Friday". This will be a place where I share with you the homesteading and beginner farmer aspect to the life I share with my husband. Every Friday I will provide posts that share news and updates from Crooked Coop Farm, as well as recipes and other fun homesteading odds and ends.

To start, this week I thought I would just introduce our farm to you....

My husband and I began homesteading when we bought our little house in 2012. We started with having a garden and raising a few chickens to getting an alpaca, some sheep, ducks, more chickens and a larger garden where we eventually took organic veggies to the farmer's market. I have heard that chickens are a gateway animal to farming and in our case this was true we fell in love with raising them and moved up from there.

We have grown and made changes through out this process working with different people, gaining experience, and we continue to push through with big plans for this little farm. Currently in between raising kids, animals and growing produce my husband is learning meat cutting while I am working on developing my artwork. We both have big goals ahead and plan to melt our dreams together to create a place where all are accessible.

Our farm is just a small 3 acre plot right now, more of a little homestead as we continue to dream, and learn we plan to grow as well. One day we would like a larger farm with more animals, organically raised of course, a place to sell our meat and produce, and a studio where I can sell my artwork and teach classes. This is a long ways ahead of us right now but we are on the right path. With faith and hard work I can see a future where we both work together and bring these dreams to life.

So that is just a little introduction to who we are as homesteaders I hope you check back on Fridays to see our progress and news on the farm. We will always have something interesting to share with 3 (almost 4) kids, 5 sheep, a boat load of chickens, and one happy duck there is never a dull moment.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

A Free Coloring Page for You!

Hi gang! When I started this blog 2 months ago I said I was going to post one free coloring page download a week for the remainder of the year. I wanted to give these away as my gift to you for joining this blogging process with me and reading my posts (you can find previously posted coloring pages here). Although the year is over I want to still share my coloring pages I may not post them every week, but they will be around. Today I have one inspired by the new year with thoughts of change and progress. What a better representation of change than the butterfly.

You can download this page here.

I hope you enjoy this free download and get good use out of it. I love sharing my work and feel this is a fun way to do it.