April 30, 2013

Gallery Wall for the Girls' Room


I decided it was time to change out the cute-but-babyish wall decor in the girls' room for something a little more imaginative and artistic. Like most kids, Ivy loves animals, books, fairy tales, and pictures of herself, so that's what we went with.

I'm sure there are millions of tutorials and methods for doing a gallery wall, but this is my method. It works and it's easy, so I thought I'd share it:

Step 1: Arrange frames on the floor until you get something you like. Take a picture. It doesn't matter whether or not they already have pictures in them because you'll add those digitally.

I had a whole bunch of mismatched frames, but I kind of like that look, so it didn't bother me. Every single one of these was given to me, most of them by my mother-in-law, so I worked with what I had. Also, I got lucky by not having to buy any! I did, however, have to buy glass and backing for them.

After looking around for a while at the glass and backing kits, I had the brilliant (to me) thought of going to Dollar Tree and buying a bunch of cheap plastic frames just to use the glass and backing. I spent about $9 for seven 8x10 frames and two 5x7s. I even ended up using two of the frames. I also already had all the matboard, so that didn't cost me anything extra.
Step 2: Take the picture into Photoshop (or other editing program) and use Transform>Skew on the image so the frames appear straight. It will be harder to place the images naturally if you don't do this, but it's not completely essential. This is the same photograph as the one above, after skewing.
Step 3: Add pictures to the image in Photoshop to see which placement you like best. I ended up adding a few things to the upper right corner once it was on the wall because it seemed unbalanced. I switched up a few frames in the hanging process as well.
Start with hanging one large or central image first, then add to the wall one at a time, using your Photoshopped picture as a reference to frame spacing.

I painted the picture of the owl when I was in high school and used to really liked to draw and paint animals. I also did the colorful cat on the green paper in high school. They've been tucked away in a portfolio in a closet for years, along with a bunch of other old art of mine, so I pretty much forgot I had them until now.

I like to step back after each picture is hung to analyze where the next should go. There aren't any rules at this point. Just go for it!

I used images from Vintage Printable again, along with other free public domain images from Old Book Art. I found some of the other ones by searching for Edmund Dulac, Warwick Goble, and Beatrix Potter, some of my favorite children's books illustrators.

I purchased the cute little baby deer and duckling from Shutterstock because I got a packaged deal, making them pretty much free, but I was inspired by these oh so adorable baby animal photographs and prints.


I put a few pictures of my kids into the mix, naturally. I also put up a little plate my grandma got me in England when I was a kid. It too, has been in a box for years, so I decided I needed to use it or get rid of it, because I hate just storing things forever.




Ivy and Maren were ridiculously excited, which is always the best part about projects like this. What do you think? Does she look happy?

P.S. Thanks to all the generous people who gave me the frames, having access to free printing, and using my old art, I spent under $10 on this whole gallery wall!

April 22, 2013

I finished my painting! + Oil painting supplies & free printables

Well, the painting I thought I'd never finish is done! It's a relief to have a project off my to-do list that's been there for, uh, four years. I reeeaally dragged this one out.


It's nice to have something big and colorful hanging on the main focal wall in my living room. I have been bugged with the emptiness for as long as I've lived here.

The painting is of a street/river in Recife, Brazil, where my husband served a church mission. It's a special place to him and I thought it was pretty, so I painted it. Who doesn't love colorful buildings?

The evolution of the painting

I tried to show the impasto (raised texture) of the paint here, but it's hard to photograph.


A friend asked me if I was going to blog about the materials I use and any tips I have for oil painting, so I figured I'd share what I think might be useful. I'm no expert, obviously, but knowing that an ordinary person like me can paint should be encouraging, right?

You can see from the picture above that I have a hodgepodge of paint brands, brushes, and supplies. Most of the paint was given to me and some are 10+ years old. I did buy the Utrecht brand paints while I was in an oil painting class in college because the teacher said they were her favorite (they are good). The color is rich and super creamy and goes a long way. But most oil paint is that way to an extent, which is why I like it.



I really like to use these paper palette sheets with a closable container to keep the paint from drying up. It's nice for when you take a few days off (or more). The palette knife is what you want to use for mixing paint colors--not a brush because more paint is likely to be wasted that way and get into the metal base of the brush.

To oil paint, you also need some paint thinner (odorless is best) in a jar, a board or canvas, and somewhere to prop the canvas (I use an easel, but you could do without). Most importantly, don't be intimidated! Even if you start with abstracts just to get used to the medium, they can end up being beautiful if you use rich colors that you love. The great thing about oil painting is that you can't mess up. You can cover up mistakes over and over again, unlike watercolor or other media that are less forgiving.

I also hung up some prints on my other walls so they'd be all balanced out. I got most of these from Vintage Printable, a good source for free public domain images that you can do whatever you want with. I'll share the source for each image below.




I tried to hang the pictures in pairs of similar color schemes. It's harder to see the colors with the glare from the glass and the low lighting. I hung them using these frames from Walmart. Each set of six was only $12, and I bought a full sized white matboard for $7 and cut it myself with a mat cutter, so with the free prints (and I was able to get them printed for free too), it was a very affordable way to put some art on the wall. Plus, it was really fun for me to browse the Vintage Printable website forever to choose the art. :)

Top: here and here
Middle: vintage family photograph and here

 Top: Carl Bloch public domain image and here
Middle: here and here
Bottom: here and here


Hooray for pictures on the walls! Ivy's room is next. I've chosen some old children's book illustrations that I love, along with some more free printables and some of my art from when I was younger.
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