Thursday, 19 October 2017

A Family (Abstract) Art Project!

Sometimes I just get a vision in my mind and I can't shake it till it's fulfilled, even if I don't quite know how to do it, haha. Is that just me!?

Backstory: I had this big canvas hanging above our dining table. When we moved into our home about seven years ago (!!), I couldn't afford a nice artwork so hung up a simple canvas covered in a pale blue fabric (using the good ol' staple gun) and grey chunky wool twined around it... a 'temporary' solution of an abstract art work that ended up staying quite a while. Like, seven years....oops!

I was finally ready to do something different but just felt like I still wanted to use the canvas I already had... and had a hankering to do something with it involving the kids so it could be a family project and a family artwork to hang above the family table (are you sensing a theme? #family). Something abstract, something colourful, something that suited our house decor colour scheme, something drippy or splattery, something that involved the kids but didn't look like it had been done by kids, if you know what I mean!?! I mean, is all that too much to ask!? Ha!

I scrolled Pinterest like crazy and asked arty friends, but just couldn't find anything that exactly fit my vision. So, I combined a few techniques with a big dose of 'let's just try this and see what happens' and here's where we ended up!

Well, I love it and the end result totally fit my vision! The whole family loves it and we all especially love that we all got involved. The kids are super proud of their contribution (they show it off to every visitor!), it's the perfect piece to sit over our dining table and I think it's going to suit our family home for many years to come!

Our beautiful mess.... kinda perfect to represent our family life. Perfectly imperfect. We love it 'cos it's ours!

If you want to have a go, whether by yourself, with family or your classroom, here's how to do it!

Basically, I made up 'spray bottle' paint for the fun dripping technique... spray paint is pretty toxic so didn't really want the kids going crazy with that! It's so easy and fun to do.

What you need:

  • A canvas of whatever size you like!
  • Acrylic paints - choosing the colour combo is the best part :) 
  • Spray bottles - one for each colour you want to use
  • Jug of lukewarm water (not cold from the tap, you want it slightly warm to help make the paint nice and runny)
  • The secret weapon - a little bead or corn kernel to go into each spray bottle to help mix the paint when you shake it. Or use a kid's baby tooth like they do in each spray can (Simpsons reference, sorry! #itsajoke) 

The How-To:
  • Find a space outside to set up your canvas, perhaps with a drop sheet as well. There will be overspray! Ask me how I know, haha.
  • Mix up the paint in the spray bottles. How thick or watery you make the spray will depend on what you want the painting to look like and also I think the brand of paint will affect it too. I wanted it to be pretty richly coloured (so it looked like acrylic paint, not watercolour) so I make it pretty thick. For this, I did a ratio of about 1/3 paint to 2/3 lukewarm water. You can trial/experiment with it, for a more watercolour effect, maybe do a quarter paint to three quarters water. Start with a little paint and give trial sprays on paper and adding water till you get the effect you like!
  • So - add the water, then the paint, then lastly the bead or kernel. Then shake, shake, shake!

Also, I  wondered if the spray bottles would get clogged after the first use or be basically ruined with the paint but I am very happy to report that they didn't clog and or get ruined even after the paint sat in them for several days - woohoo! After it was all done, I washed them out and they are still fine to use :)

So first of all, my little assistant helped me make a very watery 'undercoat' layer with the grey colour (I did probably a quarter paint or less to three quarter for this one). I don't know if it really was needed but I wanted to give the canvas a good base and for the paint to run well over.

Then, it was time to spray!!! Now, if you are doing this with a bunch of kids, for everyone's sanity, I suggest just working with one kid at a time. Each kid got assigned a colour, they would come out to the carport and go on a spraying frenzy, then we would let it dry for a couple hours or longer before doing the next layer. I encouraged them to just spray along the top of the canvas and they really loved watching the paint run down!

I worked with four colours (one for each kid and then hubby and I shared the grey). I ended up doing two layers of each because I got very perfectionistic, haha and didn't like how I finished on the grey (it looked too dark) so I started layering over again!! So grey base layer then yellow, pink blue, grey, yellow, pink, blue. I would suggest starting with darker colours and layering so the lighter ones are on top.

He chose this outfit including the hat, lol. Perhaps he was channelling his inner French artiste?! 

And finally, after a very impatient wait (may or may not have been not quite dry!), it was ready to hang over the dining table! Actually, beforehand, all the kids signed the back and we put the date on it. Our beautiful mess :) 

Kinda obsessed with all the tiny flecking all over it

We are so happy with our messy little artwork and all the memories it now contains. Let's see how long it hangs on the wall.... probably for quite a few years! #familyheirloom?!

And if you get a hankering to make one too.... enjoy... and I would love to see a photo!

Monday, 9 October 2017

38.52 ...A family day by the river

It was a public holiday and I was just itching to get out of the house and spent a little time connecting with nature and my family. Life has been a little too hectic of late, for my liking!

We packed up a simple picnic and our new (huge!) picnic mat and took off to explore a new trail by the river not too far from our house. For locals, FYI, it's the Murrumbidgee River Discovery Trail which starts from the Kambah Pools. I couldn't believe we had never been there before!!! A simply beautiful area, I highly recommend it..

We first went for an hour long hike along the Discovery Trail. it was truly idyllic. Mark and I just kept taking deep breaths, sighing and smiling as we walked along the trail. It just felt soooooooo good, so refreshing and so grounding to be out in nature together! The kids alternately went racing along the track to explore or were strolling along by our sides, chattering away. We spotted birds, soaked in the mountain views, observed wombat holes, explored burnt out trees and watched a trail of ants. Out here, together, all the worries and stresses of life just seemed to melt away.

After our long walk, the little legs (and big legs, let's be honest!) were rather ready for a rest. We set ourselves up to relax for the rest of the morning by the river. It was so nice to just find a quiet space where we could just soak up the tranquillity and refuel with a few snacks. However, before too long, the kids were down in the river beds, wading in the water and digging channels in the sand. They don't need long to recover!? Hubby and I enjoyed watching them for a while, as he dozed and I read. 

It was just a few hours out of the house but it was such a recharge. How thankful I am for days like these, making memories, connecting with and in nature, just being together!

These are precious times, of this I have no doubt.

Grubby feet are always a sign of a good time....

When we head out for a picnic, I like to throw a few books in for the kids  as well as the adults. The perfect way to take a little quiet time out in the fresh air before jumping up for another play. If you know me, you know it's never a bad idea to squeeze in a little more reading! And it heightens the chance I get to read some of my own book too ;) 

Mark always squeezes in a power nap whenever possible....

I just have to say a huge thank you to Recycled Mats for sending me the beautiful Reconciliation Mat pictured, as a gift. Truth be told, I have been eyeing off these gorgeous mats online and on Instagram for aaaaages!!! So was beyond thrilled to be sent one. It is amazzzzzzing, is it not?! I'm in love :)

Finally, a mat that is big enough for our whole family to stretch out on - this one is 3x3 metres. It's soft and comfy, fairly waterproof, and easy to just hose off any mess too! I also love so much about this company's approach - recycling millions of plastic items that would otherwise be headed for landfill, and employing Indigenous artists to create many of their stunning mat designs. So much to love! Frankly, I am just so excited for this beautiful mat to accompany our tribe on many more outdoor adventures!

This beautiful Reconciliation Mat was gifted to me by Recycled Mats. No additional payment was made and all opinions shared are 100% my own. I only share about products that I truly love and use!

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

37.52 the classroom bear

Is there any pressure quite like the implicit pressure when your child suddenly brings home the precious classroom bear for a 'visit'????

Thankfully, he was returned to school, unharmed, with all his little accoutrements too.

Frankly, it's a miracle!!

PS Plus, very cute and sweet to see Miles excitement and pride of course. But still.... pressure!

Project 52: A portrait of my family, once a week, every week, in 2017.

36.52 A frog named Minnesota and the girl who loved him

Lily and Minnesota 

I can't believe I have been so remiss as to not have already featured some images and the story of Lily and her little frog.

It all began over six months ago. Our family was helping out at a working bee, clearing out an outdoor area and somebody found this sweet little frog in an old bucket in a shed. My animal obsessed daughter begged and begged to take him home. As providence would have it, we had somehow aquired a small acrylic fish tank a couple of weeks earlier and so I hesitantly (reluctantly?!) said yes. Yes, as long as she researched how to care for him and took on full responsibility for the frog herself and covered all costs. Does that sound too mean?? Ok, I had a lot on my plate at that point so just couldn't take on any more.

Eagerly, she still said yes. She googled and researched his breed, how to care for a frog and his favourite foods. She worked out it was a male frog due to the different number of toes/webbing (?! I don't remember the term because I am not a frog expert, lol, you will have to ask her). She spends her own pocket money on buying crickets from the pet shop, and breeds meal worms for his snacks. She keeps him faithfully fed and watered and changes up his environment with varying little rocks, logs and ornaments. He loves to climb but mostly loves to hide between rocks where no one can see him. She keeps the tank in her bedroom and I never knew a frog (apart from Kermit) that was showered with such love and attention, haha! She also rarely holds him (apart from for these photos) as she knows it's not good for his skin.

Only once, very early on, did he manage to somehow escape his tank in her bedroom. We thought he was gone for good until the next morning he came hopping across the kitchen floor!!!! What a fright it gave me!!

I admit I didn't have high expectations on life expectancy but she has kept little Minnesota alive and happy for over six months now. I am truly impressed with her faithfulness and care and how she has taken on such responsibility so independently.

Needless to say, all this has ramped up her campaign for a dog quite considerably!! ;)

Oh and if you wondered about the name?? Firstly, Lily seems to have a gift for naming things with such quirky and original flair. When I asked about how she came up with the name Minnesota she casually replied that she was just thinking about countries that had lots of frogs!!!!

Lollllll, I love this girl with every fibre of my being. Never change, Lily my love xx

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

35.52 a father's day amidst the blossoms

For our (early) Father's Day family day, Mark requested a picnic and bike ride down by the lake.

And so, of course, we did! 


When we arrived the blossom trees were in full glory. Ahhhh, spring, we have been waiting for you!

So although we were all dressed for bike riding (and not nice family pictures!) of course I had to get Mark's Father's Day photos amidst those stunning blooms!

How blessed these kids are to have a father like this guy. How blessed I am to parent alongside him... like, seriously, phew! 

He is a good one (the best!!) and I looooove seeing his special bond with each child in these photos. They adore him and all have so much fun together :) 

Eli asked to take photos of us. He took these with my big camera and did an awesome job, don't you agree!!! :) 

We love this guy so much!!! 

Happy Father's Day, honey xx

Project 52: A portrait (or a few!) of my family, once a week, every week, in 2017.