I had quite a productive day yesterday, but everything was done at a relaxed pace which even made it better. I sanded and re-coated the chalk board, which I am going to allow to dry a bit more before trying it out, and I also got caught up on my mail. I then put together a pattern, and I worked on making a second packet for the painted pumpkin candle tray that I made last week, which will take a bit of doing.
One thing about painting patterns is that they are quite a bit more involved than woodworking ones generally. While the instructions for woodworking projects are pretty much cut and dry, instructions for painting are a bit more involved, as much of the instructions are bit absolute and it is very easy for one to go off in another direction. While this is perfectly fine (and even desirable) for many painters, it can be a bit intimidating for those who are newer to painting and are just learning. For this reason, I try to be as clear and concise as possible and really break things down into baby steps so that everyone can fully understand the process.
In order to accomplish this, it usually takes a couple of tries for me to get comfortable with the color choices myself. It is one thing to paint something nice, but another to be able to reproduce it over and over and have the same look. And while painting some things are pretty straight forward, others can be a bit more complicated in achieving the look we want.
The pumpkins on the tray were kind of like that. While they were in no way difficult, they were each made by using several layers of color to achieve the rich and warm effect. The first time I painted them, I wasn’t quite sure which colors to use and it was a trial and error process. While the final result was good, I needed to document and simplify the steps that I took to get to the finished look. This wasn’t difficult, but I had to organize things and break them down into a logical process that everyone would be able to follow and understand.
I cut all eight pumpkins out at a larger size and I decided that I was going to make a matching set of ornaments or magnets using the same characters on the tray. This way when I repainted them, it would give me a strong foothold in the process and I would document it along the way. I still had the colors that I used for the tray sitting on my painting table and by repainting them several times over, I would become more comfortable with getting them to look consistent and like the set on the tray. As with anything, practice makes perfect. It is rare that I would do something once and be able to call it a day. At least not for this level of painting where I am teaching the process in a packet. So I spent much of the rest of the day working on them. I didn’t quite finish yet, but I should be just about done today.
While doing this does take a bit more time, it is good for me because it really familiarizes me with the process. When I painted the little skating pond last year, I made several sets even though I was quite meticulous about writing down the process as I created the first set. It did me good to paint the subsequent sets, and each time I did so I fine tuned the pattern so that others would be able to follow along easily and everything flowed nicely. I had no trouble finding homes for the extra pieces I painted, so doing things this was was certainly not a waste of time.
As for the pumpkins, I have taken several step-by-step pictures for each color family of them (there are lighter ones and darker ones) and this way even the beginners will be able to learn the process of multi-layered shading and recreate the process themselves. Of course, if one doesn’t want to follow all the steps, that is their own decision. At least the information will be offered so that every packet is a teaching lesson. Well, that is my goal anyway.
On another note, my dear cat Coco seems to be in some distress. It began yesterday when I noticed that she was absent most of the day. While she does tend to tuck herself away from the boys (Pancakes and Richard) who tend to pick on her, she is still quite social with us and likes to interact on the days when we are working here. I knew there was something amiss when at meal time she stayed in her little bed/box that we made for her under my painting table. It is not like Coco to miss a meal. We were able to coax her out later on, but it seemed that she had trouble putting weight on her back legs. We brought her up on the couch and had her on a blanket where I offered her some water in a shallow bowl which she nearly finished. I tried to help her to see if she needed to use her box, and afterword, she did go to the kitchen and nibble some food. In watching her walk, she didn’t look too bad, but there was definitely something wrong.
Later on, she settled on the bed for a bit, but when Rich came to see what she was up to, she hissed at him (something she doesn’t normally do) and when she tried to stand she again cried out as if she was hurting. I made a bed for her in a corner where she likes to sleep, but she went back to under my painting table. I am sure she feels more protected there and if she isn’t feeling well, it probably made her feel safe. She is still there this morning and when I reach down to pet her and talk to her, she does coo at me and seems friendly. But she does not come out.
It was a night that reminded me of when the kids were small and weren’t feeling well. It was hard to relax knowing that she was not right. Keith (bless his heart) spent the night on the couch so he could watch over her and make sure that the boys didn’t pick at her or pester her as they often do after we retire.
I am thinking a trip to the vet is in order if she doesn’t seem better soon. When she came from the bedroom last night, she was limping noticeably. It appears that she hurt one of her back legs, but we can’t figure out how. She is a large cat – probably larger than she should be, and that may be contributing to her pain. I have had cats for my entire life and I have never known one to sprain a leg, but it almost appears to be what happened. I am not sure.
As soon as the office opens, I will give a call in and we will take her in if necessary to see what is up. It makes me think of what a tough job the vets have diagnosing animals that are unable to speak. I only hope we come to the bottom of it soon.
Coco is only eight years old and all my cats are strictly indoor animals. I think both of these factors are to her favor and hopefully she will be feeling better soon. It is hard when someone you love is not feeling well – even if it is your pet.
Here is a picture of Coco:
She is a beautiful and gentle friend. I have never had a pet with such a soft and gentle disposition. I hope she feels better soon so I can stop worrying. We will see what the day will bring.
I hope this Monday is good for you. Have a good day.
-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"