Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Favorite Christmas Movies

Now, I am not a huge movie buff, but there are some must-sees on this list, and others that just speak to the Christmas season.  I am also not a professional movie reviewer, so these are very short and just my opinions...

In no particular order, here are some of my favorite Christmas movies:

The Polar Express - I have the book, and was fortunate enough to see a gallery display of Chris van Allsburg's artwork and book illustrations in Grand Rapids, MI.  And while the movie is a slight departure from the book, it still has amazing animation, the story is sweet, and the added characters give a new depth to the story.

Elf - I'm not a big Will Ferrell fan, but this is a good movie and fun to watch.

Charlie Brown's Christmas - you were expecting this one, right?  There is something about the music, the animation and especially, the story that just makes it Christmas.

Any of the older movies:  The Year Without a Santa Clause, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer - they are my childhood Christmas memories.

The Santa Clause 1, 2, and 3 - They are fun to watch, and the fact that they are connected and yet unique make them easy to watch together (or not).

Then there are the other classics - White Christmas, Holiday Inn, Miracle on 34th Street (both the original and newer versions), and It's a Wonderful Life...  Beautiful stories, music, memories...

What are some of your favorite movies that you HAVE to watch this season?

Friday, December 12, 2014

Mixed Media Self Portraits Series: "Glimpses - No. 1"

The first piece in this series begins where most stories do, at the beginning. Though I am not sure how many pieces will be in this series, it will contain at least three, and up to five original works.

I am building each one on a 16" x 16" canvas, and as it is mixed media, there will be layers of paper, some fabric, paint and various other pieces of things that I find along the way.

As I add the layers of paint, paper and ephemera, I look for things that bring memories forward, and build the story. The things I use aren't necessarily items from my childhood or family, but may remind me of a place, time or idea that I want to share. As humans, we have things in common, so even though this piece is through the lens of my experience, you may find glimpses of yours too.

That is why I am calling this series "Glimpses."

The title of canvas No. 1 - "You Know Me" is based on Psalm 139 verses 13 through 18:

13For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts,[a] God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with you.

Here are some photos of the work in progress...  I will share more when it is finished...


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Keep Learning

I posted this earlier in the year, but as we close out 2014, it is a good reminder to keep learning. . .

Friday, December 5, 2014

Christmas Crafts - Making Paper Snowflakes and Garlands

When my mom worked at the University of Michigan Hospital, there would be various art exhibits on display in the lobbies and different wings. One display that would come back each year was of paper snowflakes, crafted by a surgeon, Dr. Thomas Clark, now retired. These were not just any elementary school square paper snowflakes, these were cut-with-surgical-tools-with-the-tiniest-of-details snowflakes, and a wonder to behold...He would do a series, like, "The Twelve Days of Christmas" with a snowflake depicting each gift from each day...  (There is a video at the bottom of this post for one of his series.  Be sure to watch!)

And while not all of us have the patience, or surgical skills, necessary to create such amazing pieces of paper art, we can still have some fun creating our own winter lace. Here are some basic steps to get started.

  • Paper, lots of paper
  • Sharp scissors - smaller might be better, and for smaller, intricate details, cuticle scissors would be helpful
  • A (fairly) clear table to work on
And these are helpful, but optional:
  • Christmas music - to set the mood
  • Friends
  • Hot cocoa, tea or coffee (but not too much caffeine or those details could get shaky!)
First how to fold the paper:

There are many versions of these instructions, but I will walk through the steps here, with photos:

We need a square piece of paper.
After folding, we will need to lightly draw a design for our snowflake.  I chose to try some holly leaves...go figure. :)
Then, we cut! Take your time here, so your details are clear.
Carefully unfold your masterpiece to see what the design looks like.  Ta-DAH!
Repeat as often as you like to build your flurry, snowfall, blizzard, whiteout... you get the idea! Try different designs, remember no two snowflakes are alike!  Or work with the same design, they will still be very individual and beautiful!

One way to use some of your snowflakes is by making a garland with them.
Supplies for this:
  • Snowflakes
  • String, yarn or twine
  • Craft glue or hot glue (optional)
  1. Determine where and how you want to hang your garland, and then measure and cut enough yarn or string to reach.
  2. Then, depending on your snowflake designs, simply weave the string through openings in your snowflakes, or glue the snowflakes to the string, spacing them as you go.
You may need to allow a little drying time for the craft glue option... and voila! Your wintery wonderland is beginning to take shape!

Here is another garland option:  Take a simple triangle and trace it onto various papers.  Cut out the triangles, punch holes in the corners and string the pennants one by one.  You could stamp, write or glue letters on to make it a banner too! Then hang them above a doorway, on a wall, around your tree...

These are some of the papers I used for a fall garland, but am working on some Christmas papers for this season.  That is one of the great things about paper, it is fun and easy to make things for each season! 

Here is a video with some of Dr. Clark's snowflakes (Part one of two...) check it out!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

What's New With You?


I'm just checking in, as I haven't posted for a few days.  I have been busy working on some ornament orders (with a few more to come) and figuring out some simple Christmas craft ideas for a post - which was supposed to "go live" yesterday, but... oh well... it should be ready for tomorrow! 

I'm also hosting a small cookie/candy swap this weekend, so that should be a fun time.  I am trying to have a couple simple crafts ready to work on while we snack on cookies and hot cocoa!   Oh yeah, I still need to decorate our tree and the rest of our space...

What are some things you are working on?  Are you planning any get-togethers?  Are you done with your Christmas lists?  (I haven't even thought about that yet...)