Quick painterly art from photos

This time change has really thrown me out of sorts. It’s never happened before but I am SO TIRED this week. You’d never guess that I just came back from a refreshing vacation.

The beautiful beach at Luquillo

The beautiful beach at Luquillo

But I do have a very quick update for you, because I found a fun new app that is letting me turn my somewhat mediocre vacation pics into pretty little watercolor prints! It’s called Waterlogue and it’s very fun.

I have no connection with Waterlogue at all — they don’t know I exist. But they helped me find a cute way to do something fun with two of my Paris photos that I’m really excited about, so I wanted to share.


The app works a lot like Instagram — you can select photos from your existing files in addition to taking new ones. And you have a couple different painterly effects you can apply. One thing I really like is that you can save the pictures without sharing — sometimes I want to add an Instagram filter to a pic without actually sending it out into the world, and I haven’t found a way to do that yet. With Waterlogue, you can! And you can save your pictures to various sizes/image qualities, which is useful if you actually want to print them.

I have two photos that I took in Paris of storefronts, and I was really hoping they would be high enough quality to print, frame and hang. While the photos are nice and sharp they either felt a little emotionally flat or had some details that distracted from the overall feeling. Changing them to “watercolors” really helped.

Here’s the first one, a charming little cheese shop around the corner from my hotel.


It’s okay. Not a great photo — just a snapshot of a storefront. But in watercolor:


The colors pop. Different lines have a little more weight, which I think might improve the composition a little. There’s just a little more romance.

Here’s another one, the flower shop across the street:


Again, it’s okay. It doesn’t really capture how charming the shop was in person. But after a little alteration:


A little more charm!

I had a lot of fun playing around with vacation photos in this app, and I was excited that it helped transform a few shots that I felt didn’t capture the feeling of the scene into something that was much closer. Something I’d actually consider throwing in a frame and putting up on the wall. (And if you’ve been reading, you know how picky I am about what goes on the wall!)


Happy Anniversary, Mother!

Today is the 30th Anniversary of the Day Mother Broke Her Tailbone. Or, I suppose, the day Mother’s tailbone got broken. By sister. Getting born…in a snowstorm, incidentally. Sister hates birthdays, so my mother sent an email asking what we should do for the 30th anniversary of her broken tailbone instead. Sneaky.

Personally, I’m celebrating with a gift. My family isn’t very in to “stuff” and my sister is especially nomadic (likely moving to California this summer), so if I don’t come up with something good, I don’t do it at all.

My sister enjoys photography (I have one of her photos in my dining room, and hope to use more someday), but thats about all she has on her walls. I wanted to come up with some art for her (because apparently that‘s my thing these days) but I don’t like just breaking out a rerun of something I’ve already done.

My favorite piece is my Birthday Art, which my best friend wants me to re-make for him.

DR Birthday Art

And when I wanted to make something cool for Boyfriend, my take on that matched his rug (and used his nephew’s artwork).

Circle Art: Framed

So what now? I only want to use artwork if it’s got some meaning behind it, so that’s out. What else?


I have an obsession with maps. One of my most popular project was my Map-Lined Drawer.

Finished Drawer

Between my Craft Ideas and Things for My Wall Pinterest boards, I have seven different map pins. Things like…



Then I saw this post (before or after I pinned it on Pinterest? Who knows.) So pretty. So easy*. I could use the different places my sister has lived, or places she’s visited. It would look cool and add some meaningful art.

Watercolor maps. From this awesome map to image site.

mapimage(1) copy


These are two of the (many) places she’s lived. I popped them in to two Ikea shadowbox frames and we were good to go.

I thought about doing something similar to the inspiration images above, but my sister is very much not a heart person…and making them too small made it tough to see the detail. We went out for dinner over the weekend to celebrate, and my dad was convinced I bought them. Win!

Are you obsessed with maps too? Can you figure out the two locations shown above?

Pinterest Challenge: Ring Around the Artwork


It’s Winter Pinterest Challenge time! Thanks to some motivation from Megan (The Remodeled Life), Katie (Bower Power), Sherry (Young House Love) and Michelle (Decor and the Dog), I pulled together some new artwork (with & for Boyfriend).

Circle Art: Framed

Back in November, I went to visit my sister in Milwaukee. In the course of my (epically bad) train trip, I was left with nothing but a piece of paper and pen (and a phone. No keys. No wallet. No coat. Just a phone.) given to me by strangers (seriously. It was bad.). Mostly out of options, I started on my Christmas list, and a list of things to give others, especially the Boyfriend (he’s pretty tough to shop for).

His walls are either art by Ikea or pictures of his family, so something with more meaning seemed like a good idea, but what? It seemed cute to make something together, but that could be something only girls find cute–what if he thought it was dumb? Or I could combine the two!

I absolutely loved Amanda’s artwork that she made from her children’s artwork:


So much so that I made my own, but without the “aw, cute” of using my kids artwork. (You have to have actual kids for that sort of thing.) So instead I made my friends make me artwork at my birthday party.

Large Scale Art pieced from paintings by friends

But. Boyfriend has a nephew! I could have his four year old nephew make me some art, and turn that into something cool…

Along the lines of my pieced-together birthday art, but something different. 4 year olds probably won’t produce a ton of useable artwork, so I wanted something that could use his nephew’s picture as a component but probably not the focus. So I decided on circles…

I have a love affair with circles (I have a whole board of cards that involve circles) and on my Things for my Wall board, I pinned this:

Floral Burst box64It’s from Etsy shop box64studios, and although this one is no longer available, they have a similar listing here. I thought it was really cool, and thought something similar would look great as one of my bathroom artwork options.

Plus Boyfriend already has a circle thing going. He just moved, but here’s a picture of his old living room:

Mike Living Room

The rug is from the Home Decorators Collection and I love the circle pattern.

Boyfriend’s nephew painted me a couple of pictures a few weeks before Christmas, and I cut them into circles and put them in a box. I wanted to make sure he liked the idea, so for Christmas I just gave him the box of circles. (It was the one gift he chose to open at breakfast–he was a little bewildered.)

Circle Art: Cut and Ready

I grabbed a sheet of fancy gift wrap from my stash and did a practice run on the cream back.

Circle Art: Test Run

Looking pretty good. Needs way more little circles. (Flashback to my Heart Art, where I had oodles of way-too-big hearts and needed tons more baby hearts). We also didn’t love the way it looked on white–the circles that were only partially painted were blending in a little and we didn’t love the look. [If you do this, I’d recommend using art that is thoroughly painted/colored so you can use a white background. Much simpler.) After a trip to Paper Source, we came home with a sheet of gray handmade paper with some silver texture to it and laid it out again.

Circle Art Take 1: Busy Paper

Yeah. Too busy.

So we tried again, flipping over our piece of fancy paper and laying down the design again.

Circle Art: Loose Overlapping Rings

Much calmer. The paper still has a nice texture and doesn’t look plain but it isn’t fighting with the circles. But Boyfriend didn’t like the circles overlapping (as they are in the top left corner) and overall we thought more definition might look better. So we tightened up the arrangement.

Circle Art: Ready to Glue

Then it was time to glue. I started out with glue dots, which worked fine, but it would have used a lot (and after my Valentines wreath I’m running a little low!) We used a combination of tape runners and double sided tape, but I think most adhesives would work as long as your paper isn’t too delicate (some adhesives discolor paper).

When we finished, we popped it in a large Ikea frame, and hung it on my wall!

Circle Art: Framed

I know it doesn’t fit on the wall–it also doesn’t belong in my house, but Boyfriend is traveling (again) and its as good a place as any for it. It will live in his new living room above the couch.

Want to see my other Pinterest Challenge projects?

Pinterest Challenge: Map-lined drawer

Map-lined drawer

Storybook FinalSentimental Storybook Art

Do you have any homemade art in your home?

Boyfriend Birthday Art

Boyfriend’s not a crafty guy. He’s not much of a reader either, and definitely not a Young House Love junkie like some people here.

But after teasing me about Lesley coming down and the two of us waiting outside in the rain to get our very own autographed copy of their book, he had to see what the fuss was all about.

YHLBookAnd he saw a picture of this:

(Not the picture from the book, which isn't even about the art in the first place)

And he really liked it. Enough to refer back to it a couple times, and for me to decide it would be a pretty good birthday present. So for his birthday, I grabbed a big canvas, some craft paint and a few brushes (ok, I already had the brushes). I wrapped them up with a little canvas (to represent the big blank one which I didn’t think was worth wrapping). After a little confusion, he was excited, and over Christmas break we got it done.

Turns out he’s also totally hired on as my new staff photographer (have you noticed how bad all my pictures are?), so that’s a plus.

So we got out our canvas, a yardstick, several shades of green craft paint + white + silver metallic for some depth, a couple brushes and a paper plate for mixing.

So we got out our canvas, a yardstick, several shades of green craft paint + white + silver metallic for some depth, a couple brushes and a paper plate for mixing.

Then I got to measuring. We did 1.5 inch marks, using the yardstick facing the same direction down both long sides and then lining it up between the two marks to make lines. Then I just grabbed an envelope and made some random arrows. This part was hilarious. It’s not for me, so I was asking Boyfriend what he wanted. So he went and got the book, and started scrutinizing the picture. “Well, she never does too many close together.” “Don’t do diamonds. She didn’t do diamonds.” The best was “Ok, she did two, then three, then two, then four…” as he actually started counting how many arrows in each line. I stopped him and pointed out it didn’t have to look EXACTLY like what Sherry did. That’s an IT guy for you, right?

Arrow art measure 1Arrow art measure 2Arrow art make arrows

Then it was time for painting. As with anything paint, you can always go darker, so I started with what I thought would be a mid-to-darker color (which was one of my greens mixed with white). Of course, it ended up being our darkest.

Arrow art progress 1From there, we just mixed new shades, usually just lightening what we were working with, and adding a lime-y green to some mixes, with silver to others (I didn’t want it to look too flat and Sherry didn’t provide formulas, so I was allowed to do this.)

Arrow Art progress 2My new photographer Boyfriend even made me hold it up at regular intervals to make sure he got some good progress shots (see, totally hired!)

Arrow Art Progress 3And I started on the little bonus canvas you see–see if you can find it later in my house!

Arrow Art Progress 4And then finally it was done! He loves it and so do I. Right now it’s hung sideways on a nail in my house waiting for his move to a new place at the end of the month. But it will be the first thing you see when you walk in his new place. Now if I can just convince him I don’t do this with everyone I date (which is true! Right Lesley?!)

Arrow Art Final 2

What’s your favorite piece of art you’ve made?

2012 Favorites

This has been a busy year for me–there are still some projects (some of my favorites!) that need to be wrapped up on here, like the buffet and the bathroom–but many completed that I wanted to look back on.  Here are my Favorites (and some of yours) from the past year.

The most popular post (thanks in part to a few features) on the blog is one of my favorites too:

Pinterest Challenge: Map-lined drawer

Pinterest Challenge: Map-lined drawer

And actually, everything else was a crafty paper thing too.

First up is my favorite (but according to WordPress’ year end review, no one else’s):

Finished Product

My birthday present to myself, made by a forced labor birthday ice cream social (but painstakingly cut and assembled by me)

Many of my projects were gifts, and two of my favorites were for a close friend’s new baby girl:

Made with both parent's favorite childhood books

Made with both parent’s favorite childhood books

This banner hung in their living room for three months before moving to the baby's room. So glad they loved it!

This banner hung in their living room for three months before moving to the baby’s room. So glad they loved it!

The Mother’s Day present I made was one of my first posts, and still looks great on my mom’s hallway picture ledges.

Made of a zillion cut and folded paper hearts.

Made of a zillion cut and folded paper hearts.

And an idea everyone should steal (for thermostats, alarm panels and door buzzers like mine): The canvas to cover an eyesore. Dots optional.

The canvas panel just has punched paper dots glued to it and covers the buzzer. No one even knows its there!

The canvas panel just has punched paper dots glued to it and covers the buzzer. No one even knows its there!

I was a little surprised at the prevalence of paper, especially since I DO write about other stuff. And although one of my first posts was about cards, I never post them (something I plan to remedy right away–I love making cards and make tons of them!)

Did you do a Favorites post? I love these, especially for blogs I’m new too–link yours up in the comments so I can see what yours are!