My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond #631: Teaching Through Baby Steps

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 03-03-2012 12:31 PM 1541 reads 0 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 630: Christmas in March! Part 631 of My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond series Part 632: New Project Just About Finished »

There are days when I feel like I do not accomplish all that I want to do. Usually, if I sit down and really think about it and list the things that I did throughout the day, I find that things aren’t really as bad as I originally thought and that in actuality, I did achieve a lot. It is just that what I choose to do takes time and thought, and I need to remind myself of that sometimes and not expect everything to be done in the blink of an eye.

I am currently working on four patterns. In some ways, this is like spinning several plates, but in others, it is actually more efficient for me to do things this way because every step isn’t completed instantly (like allowing coats of paint or finish to dry) and working with a partner means the sharing of both our tools and space to work with them. By working on multiple things of a different nature, it always gives me something to do that won’t interfere with what Keith is working on and it makes for a pleasant working environment.

I drew up a pattern the other day and had it to the point where I wanted to cut it out on the saw. However, Keith was at a point in his own designing where he needed to spend several hours at the saw cutting his own new and intricate design. I didn’t want to infringe on his sawing time because he had a much longer road ahead of him regarding the cutting and I knew it would take several days overall for him to complete it.

This didn’t bother me though because I still had pattern packets to work on and that would keep me at my computer and away from the saw for quite some time. As a result, everyone was being productive and there were no hard feelings regarding who gets to use the tools at what time.

You may remember the painted pumpkin candle tray that I finished last week. I was very pleased at how it came out, and I still needed to put together the instructional packet for it. I find that painting patterns can be a bit more intimidating – especially for the beginner – and I want to be sure that I will be able to explain the process clearly so that even a new painter will be able to accomplish the design.

In order to accomplish this, I decided to recreate each of the shades of pumpkins (there were two different color schemes that I used – light and dark) and really break the instructions down into baby steps so that people will feel comfortable about making them and perhaps learning a new process. In looking at the finished item, I could see how it may be a bit intimidating for a new painter to complete. Here is a picture of the first and last step:

I heard from many people that said they would love to make it, but would never be able to do it. As a teacher, I feel that anyone can do anything they set their mind to, as long as they take baby steps. Looking at things this way as small progressions makes the final product far less intimidating and many times it gives people the courage to give in and try.

So I repainted two of the pumpkins, one light and one dark and I documented each step along the way and broke it down into ten simple steps (this is the light one.)

As you follow along through the progressions, you can see that there isn’t a great deal of change from one step to the next. It seems much easier to go from figure 4 to figure 5 than from the first step to the last. Many times when people look on a project, they are unable to break these steps down into manageable parts and it is overwhelming and they walk away. Just as one of my favorite sayings regarding scroll sawing is ‘one hole at a time’, I use the same philosophy when teaching painting and try to convey the message that ‘one step at a time’ is the way to learn.

It takes a good deal of time for me to do this. The photos that I used here are just scanned in and not at all color corrected yet so some of the detailing may not be evident. It would be easier for me to do my packets without these step by step pictures, but with so many of my customers having access to the internet and buying patterns that way, there is a virtually unlimited amount of space for me to be able to teach them properly. Even if I am selling print copies, with my printer setup it is not an issue and I am able to provide good color copies without much trouble.

So things are sometimes slow going, but when I look at the finished product(s), I am happy with the results. I know that the packets that I offer are not only line work where people are left on their own to figure things out. Each one is a lesson – be it in painting or in scroll sawing and I hope to walk them through the process at a pace that they feel comfortable with.

My goal for today and tomorrow is to finish up the packets for these four projects. I need to send the kitty chalkboard out the door on Monday, and I hope to do so with everything completed. I am also making another chalkboard for my own site, as well as finishing up the tray pattern and since I needed to re-do the pumpkins from it anyway, I decided to make a separate pattern packet which consists of just the pumpkins to use as magnets, ornaments or anything else one may think of.

All that should be sufficient to keep me out of trouble for the weekend.

I wish you all a good day too. I hope you have some time to relax and be creative and do something you enjoy!

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

7 comments so far

View MrsN's profile


986 posts in 3520 days

#1 posted 03-03-2012 01:44 PM

Your painting packets are amazing!! I love the details you include. They are really easy to follow and they really teach well. I have learned a lot from your patterns that I have used on other projects. I am really glad that you take the time and do such quality work.

View Roger's profile


20928 posts in 2798 days

#2 posted 03-03-2012 01:46 PM

that pumpkin really came to life with your brush strokes

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed.

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9228 posts in 2914 days

#3 posted 03-03-2012 01:51 PM

Thanks, MrsN. I am truly hoping to make some more videos of the processes. Oh – so little time!!! And Roger, see how easily things come to life. It really isn’t hard if you break it down. Really! :)

Thanks for the comments. :)


-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10091 posts in 4046 days

#4 posted 03-03-2012 06:24 PM


That was a COOL way to get it done!

Must take a lot of practice to decide what to develop the sequence of the colors…

That was nice…

Thank you…

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:"

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6855 posts in 3973 days

#5 posted 03-03-2012 08:41 PM

Hi Sheila;

Isn’t it amazing how something so complicated is just a series of easy tasks?

That never fails to amaze me.

You did a really fantastic job of breaking it down into baby steps…I believe even I could do it now.


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3109 days

#6 posted 03-03-2012 08:52 PM

thank´s Sheila for the lesson :-)
even though I know a little about drawing/painting with shadows (in the theory my skills is perfect….but )
I can´t see myself be able to do this …. in a lifetime … do to the lack of not being artistic … :-)
but ceep on teaching us to eat the elephant in small pieces …

take care

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9228 posts in 2914 days

#7 posted 03-03-2012 09:04 PM

I would really like to see some of you guys try something like this, just to see. I am going to try to get a video together which will show the steps and by following along, you will be able to do this too. It is really not hard, but you only have to take it one step at a time.

“Eat the elephant in small pieces.” I like that, Dennis! :D That is exactly what we are doing here!

Thanks all! :)


-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

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