What I’ve been up to – and a little ceramic bear story

What I’ve been up to – and a little ceramic bear story

Well hey there and Happy Hanukkah to all who celebrate! Hope your season is going well so far!

I thought I might pop in with a little how’s-it-going myself as I’m on a sabbatical-that’s-not-very-sabbatical-ish. Commissions are underway but as most are gifts I won’t share them til after Christmas.

First, one expectation that seems to never fail to happen: getting sick when I have down time. It’s as though my body says “Hey! We have time to lay around and not do anything for days on end!” Fortunately these two nursemaids pin me down to administer pup snuggles.

That artisan fair

It went fairly well, all in all! Not as organized as I’d have liked, but I sold a decent number of the tags, bookmarks, and ornaments that I’d made for it, and a few paintings as well. Plus some commissions. All good!

The atmospheric river

Wreaking no end of havoc where I live….but so far so good at my house.

The ballet

I got to go see the Nutcracker this week! And surprisingly enough I met the mom of one of the dancers on Threads who’d posted about being SO PROUD of their child who’d wanted to be a ballerina since 3 years old….and now is a soloist at the Pacific Northwest Ballet. A lovely night out!

The destash and more….

I’m having a big ol’ last sale of the holiday season since we’re approaching the time when the post office can’t get art to you in time for Christmas. 

Some new pieces are in the shop, and even a destash, and tags, and ornaments, and, well, I gave early access to patrons (another reason to become one, lol!) and they bought up a lot of the treats.

But there’s still lots left, and I’m fundraising for World Central Kitchen! So if you need a set of alcohol markers, or a mini painting or ornament for a gift, or, well, anything there – I’m going to the post office next week and can ship it out to ya.

The story of the bears

One of the group of items that’s in the shop has a special little story. I found these little bears at Goodwill a few weeks ago – partly painted. Their noses and toes only. At first I picked up the bag and wondered, what the heck? Who paints just part of something? Then the thought occurred to me that it might have been an artist who didn’t last long enough on this earth to finish the project. 🙁 And I made it a little mission night after night to finish these babies and make them the best little bears they could ever be. I’m not sure I’m ready to part with them yet, but I added them to the shop if you want to give one a home. And think of all the half-completed craft projects that never get a chance to be finished. Go complete that one you’ve got sitting around, okay?

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UPDATES: My Book and Commissions!

UPDATES: My Book and Commissions!

Welcome to the blog! Where today I’ve got a couple updates I’ve been wanting to get to. Watch the video then read on for more info.

Watch the video below and scroll to the end to leave comments or questions — or click HERE to watch it on YouTube and leave comments over there. I read both dutifully!

Order “Enhanced” Workbook

By the time I’d order, pay shipping, packaging and outbound shipping, I think we’d be better off with you getting it on Amazon for $19.99 if you don’t want a customized book….I’m not sure how long they’ll be available on Amazon, but if you want to get one that way, do it soon!

I’m offering books with some enhancements….first, a personalized note from me, and secondly a watercolored page included! Once I order them in November, I’ll get them painted and mailed out asap after receiving them.

Pet commissions

In November I’ll open up commission applications; that way I don’t commit to you before looking at the photos you provide of your pet and deciding if I can do it justice! I’ll be working on some sample portraits in the rest of October and figuring out pricing by the time applications open up. Stay tuned!

New classes comin’!

I’ve been working for about a month on new classes – four of them! All inspired by the Julie Andrews song “My Favorite Things” — such visual images in the lyrics. We’ll be humming about bright copper kettles, warm woolen mittens, girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes, and more! 

The classes will be in alcohol marker, colored pencil, gouache, and watercolor. And all level 2 – no crazy scenes, just great techniques for coloring images for holiday cards. ALL the images are included, as well as a card sketch with fun-fold template to use for each lesson! 

Stay tuned this weekend – watch your email! Or subscribe to this blog, or to the Art-Classes email list, or check in on social. Lots of ways to find out, but given how hard it is to break through on social media, I thought I’d give you a heads up!


Some of the images in the classes will be available for purchase separately. And given that there are lots of my students who work in a bunch of mediums, there’ll be discounts for signing up for more than one class. 

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Coloring fuzzy white polar bear fur (3 mediums)

Coloring fuzzy white polar bear fur (3 mediums)

Welcome to my stop on the Sunny Studios Stamps bloghop!! Mendi’s celebrating the 8th birthday of her business baby and I’m so proud of her!!

In honor of her milestone, I’ve got some fun ahead for which I hope no one needs a wintry coat or scarf like I did – but Holiday Hugs Stamps will be used to make a chilly snowy card perfect for a winter celebration card! 🙂

Tutorial: Coloring fuzzy white polar bear fur 

The first few seconds are jarring…watch out! ha!

Watch the video below and scroll to the end to leave comments or questions — or click HERE to watch it on YouTube and leave comments over there. I read both dutifully!

Bear coloring

Start with marker, add pencil, then soften with marker, then more pencil as needed – layer away! The secret to getting it to look fuzzy is partially in leaving tufts of fur white (see above the eyes, top of the head and ears, lighter snout…) in comparison to the other greys. The PUNCH of color in the reddish dark color will make all that grey start to look lighter, along with that dark nose and eyes.


Colors used include these Sketchmarkers, and a Prismacolor 936 bluish gray color, and a Polychromos 133.

Contrasting background

Creating a big dark shape for all that white fur to bounce off of gives two benefits – “hiding” the lighter stamped line, and all that dark value lightens everything else. Then the white gouache snow also has something to show up on that’s dark enough.

Around the eedges of the bear, pencil only went so far in creating a soft edge – a little gouache also helped whiten places where the stamp line still showed.

Something to hold, no masking!

Then it’s a matter of what your bear will hold, if anything! I hadn’t thought about it in time, but you could take these easy steps to stamp it without ANY masking:

  1. Stamp the cupcake or other item to be held. No masking.
  2. Stamp the bear so that the paws cross over the cupcake.
  3. Definitely color nice dark mittens before coloring the cupcake. That will cover the light stamp lines of the cupcake.
  4. Color the cupcake richly enough to cover the scarf stamp lines. Either dark colors, or add glossy accents and glitter as shown here.
  5. Then color the scarf and bear. 

Something to hold, the way I did it

Since I hadn’t thought of what I’d put in his paws, here’s my steps:

  1. Color the bear, adding mittens.
  2. Stamp and color the cupcake or other object and fussy cut.
  3. With an xacto knife, slice around the top side of the mittens. You might need to curve around to the bottom depending on the size of what’s being tucked in.
  4. Put a little dimensional adhesive on the back of the cupcake and tuck it in.
  5. Add glossy accents and glitter!

My glitter problems of the past stemmed from sending cards overseas to heroes in war zones; glitter gets all over everything, as we all know, and it gets on them when they get something from us too! And glitter can make them visible to the enemy’s night vision goggles. If you send anything to a hero serving abroad, be respectful of your desire for twinkle and shimmer, and settle for the simple pretty shine of something like glossy accents alone – that won’t twinkle in enemy gunsights. 🙂 

Bloghop sale, prizes, & hop links

SALE: Sunny Studios will be offering 20% off Sunny Studio branded products (excluding clearance and new release products) using discount code EIGHTYEARS at checkout through August 29th. Limit one discount code per order.  They will also automatically include a free mini snowflake die on all orders.
PRIZES: I’m authorized to give away $25 to spend at Sunny Studios!! WHEEEEE! The contest will run through Monday, August 28th, and the winner will be posted on the Sunny Studio blog on Friday, September 1st.
TO ENTER: Tell me how MUCH or how LITTLE you love glitter! Do you have a story!?!? I love a good controvery-thats-a-nontroversy! 
HOP LINKS: Go see all the creativity!
  1. Sunny Studio
  2. Wanda Guess
  3. Rachel Alvarado
  4. Sandy Allnock <–that’s me!
  5. Marine Simon
  6. Tammy Stark
  7. Caly Person
  8. Isha Gupta
  9. Bobbi Lemanski
  10. Gladys Marcelino
  11. Tina Henkens


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Professional artist creates with Barbie Art Studio

Professional artist creates with Barbie Art Studio

A professional artist CAN create with Barbie Art Studio—and that artist is me!

I just saw the movie last week, and decided to see if there’s an art Barbie out there, and then decided to build out a room for her that looks like mine. Oh how I wish this had been a thing when I was little! But it’s never too late to play with toys, is it?

In today’s video, enjoy a walk-through of the room I created for Barbie, plus the modifications to the set I bought – hopefully there aren’t going to be little kids mad that I painted over the pink! Yellow’s my favorite color, so while I’ll include pink, yellow will be taking the stage. And black. 🙂

This is the set I’ll be modifying, so you can compare the colors here to what’s in my photos below. This was highly inspired by the renovation I did on my home recently (if you’d like to see that click here).

In addition to this set I’m using (left, below), there are 2 versions of the Art Teacher Barbie set:

Tutorial: Professional Artist creates with Barbie Art Studio

Note: this video is safe for kids to watch, but please, kiddos, don’t use sharp objects or glue without parents involved. They love you and want you safe – and I do too!

Watch the video below and scroll to the end to leave comments or questions — or click HERE to watch it on YouTube and leave comments over there. I read both dutifully!


With a piece of cardboard and a foam pad (not styro so it won’t crumble), I created a raised floor—painting it with random leftover colors from painting my home! Using a very “dry” brush creates a dragged texture as one wet color drags through other wet sticky paint. Then draw lines with a sharpie after its dry to create boards.Some substitutes could be patterned paper glued onto cardboard (I saw some woodgrains in the store that were nice), a piece of real carpet, or drawing a grid to make a checkerboard flooring pattern! Whatever it is make it sturdy so littles won’t feel bad about using it as roughly as they use toys.

I added an oval “throw rug” to mine made from felt (fold a rectangle in 1/4 and cut once around the edge to create the oval). Add rickrac with a glue gun or a few stitches, whichever is more stable for you. Add a little A-frame advertising for your art show! Found this one at a big box craft store.


NOTE: If very little kiddos may use your set, don’t use paint! They might suck the paint right off the plastic and get sick.

I didn’t treat my pieces ahead, though a little sanding and priming could help; if you’re doing this project “for reals” then have at it! Mine’s just for fun. Chalk paint is what I used since I had a big jar of it; it’s not super stable, as I can flick some off with my fingernail quite easily, but I’m not concerned over massive play ruining it.

The easel was first, and needed a little touchup after the first coat. Stay away from any moving parts like the piece that tips the easel top back and forth.

The chair was my favorite transformation! Black paint, with puffy paints for the logo (and extra flowers!), plus the bands round the chair legs. And a 2 sided cushion! I used 2 little felt pieces for the padding, as any puffy pillow would knock Barbie right off her chair.

Also – see that shoe? White gouache, with pink puffy paint. Pink shoes were tolerable but you couldn’t see the embossed laces, so I adapted them too.

The plant is created with an extra little piece of cardstock hot glued to the wall; no bottom on it. I snipped a little of a fake plant to tuck in so Barbie’s studio has some greenery to add a little life. 

The pottery station was painted black, all except the table top so it’s “wood” to work on. And underneath it serves as great storage for canvas and “clay” (playdough!) – the round corner container is a prescription jar with Barbie’s finished drawings and extra paper stored there.


Modifying my doll

When I saw Barbie’s slightly wacky haircut (one that looked like a haircut I’d given my dolls when turning them into Weird Barbie!), I knew I could give little-girl-me another chance to do it right. So she got a short cut—longer in the front, shorter in back, so stylish! A little mousse and hairspray and she’s looking fab now. I used some gold puffy paint to give her black-painted glasses a little fanciness with a corner shine, then a choker necklace, post earrings, and bracelets. She’s got a brooch from my bling stash, and feeling all kinds of ready for the big show.

Art show

What I loved best about Art Studio Barbie is her multiple-mediums! That’s me. And I let her really express herself with REAL paint now, so she didn’t have to pretend any more. Real paint in her palette and on her brush, though she had trouble holding it; but I’d be a terrible teacher if I didn’t help her out. 🙂

Now we have to go have a Barbie party with Elyse and other little friends and their Barbies, so other dolls can go home with some art!

Would you try this?

I don’t expect any new traditions to begin, but if you give any modifications a go, let me know! I know lots of folks make outfits for their dolls, and some kids (me!) make their own Weird Barbie…..but I’d love to see if you create a room or accessories for Barbie!


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  1. Barbies:
  2. Box: Boll and Branch sheets box (also try big box stores, they have boxes with lids that come off that are as stable as the cardboard for this one
  3. Patterned papers
  4. Strong doublestick tapes like Scor Tape 1/2”
  5. Flooring: paintable cardboard, foam layer
  6. Modifying furniture:
  7. Artworks:

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