Thursday, November 29, 2012

Salt Dough Decorating

Ready to make salt dough ornaments! 
Yesterday I had Justin drag up the good old folding table from the basement before he left for work. I thought it'd be a good day to do something fun with the girls. Wednesday is our Monday, you know.
{Off topic, Justin recently got his Wednesday work days shortened and gets off work at 3:30 now instead of 7 p.m. We're so glad with Advent services coming up and such. Yay!}
Viv adding the flour
We whipped up some salt dough, which is incredibly easy: 1 cup salt, 2 cups flour, and 1 cup warm water--knead for 5 minutes and you're ready to play.
Cutting out salt dough ornaments 
I was surprised that neither one of them tried to eat it. It would have been an unpleasant taste, very salty!
Salt dough heart
Oh how I wish ALL dough was as well behaved as salt dough! It is the easiest dough I've ever worked with, which makes it perfect for little ones to play with.
Rolling our salt dough 
I was curious how this type of cookie cutter would do with salt dough--would it stick? Nope. Turns out salt dough is perfect for this sort of cookie cutter, the impressions even withstand the baking and they make for perfect painting ornaments.
Salt dough ornaments to bake 
Viv had a total conniption fit over the kitty cookie cutter. We had a time out or two, I'm not sure what her problem was. Sometimes it's discouraging when you're trying to do something fun with your kids only to have one of them melt down over it... oh well, that's life as a mom.
Kitty cookie cutter
Maybe that's why I got the stink eye? I'm not sure what these looks are for. Sheesh. If looks could kill...
Once the ornaments were in the oven baking {200° for 3+ hours until dried out} we had plenty of dough left over to play with. And play we did.
Playing with salt dough 
I need to do these hands-on activities more often. We're hoping to get the girls a sensory table for Christmas so we can explore all sorts of new things together.
salt sough snowman 
Later that night we got nude and painted our baked ornaments with glitter paint. Bath time followed. I want to sew them some cute art aprons.
Painting our salt dough ornaments 
This morning they were all dried and ready to be hung on the tree. Can you guess which one is mine? ;-) Yes, it's hard for me to watch my girls do something creative without taking part myself. I love craft time as much as any other 4-year-old.
Salt dough ornaments drying 
I used to want a "pretty tree" with all color coordinated ornaments. But now I find myself making exceptions, proud to hang these creations on my tree, as I'm sure many parents do. Let's just be honest, their paint jobs are...atrocious. But they're supposed to be, they're 1 & 4! And my kids made them, so they're beautiful to me! I love them.
Names & dates on our salt dough ornaments
If you have older kids who can paint within the lines, these ornaments can really be quite pretty and VERY cheap to make. {Another reason why I've given up on having a fancy tree, ornaments can be expensive!}
My snowman :) 
The Pies were so excited to hang their creations on our tree this morning. When you have little ones, you have a distinctly decorated tree: pretty on top with all the breakable ornaments up high, but decorated quite haphazardly on the bottom.
Violet hanging her ornament 
I'd love for them to make these every year and see how their art work progresses. In 10 years, we might have a very eclectic looking Christmas tree ;-)
Eisley decorating 
Although it's already very strange looking, rattling and shaking throughout the day because a certain naughty kitty can't stay out of it.
Stella in the Christmas tree

Alright, off to feed my neglected children lunch. 


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thanksgiving Thoughts

Thanksgiving Greetings
First, does anyone know where you can find 1/2" diameter Advent candles? I'm half-considering dipping my own purple and pink candles, by golly.

A little while back I picked up this vintage Fenton candle bowl at the antique mall. It's jadite, it's hobnail, it's basically everything I love in a vintage piece. And it was a steal. My first thought was that it could be an awesome Advent wreath...if only it had one less candle hole. But I texted my fellow vintage-loving friend whom I knew I could trust for sound advice {hi Kellee} and she said no one would ever know there was a 6th candle hold if I threw some greenery in there. Brilliant.  
Vintage Fenton jadite hobnail candle bowl
The problem now is that I have no idea where to find 1/2" purple and pink tapers. Life is rough.

Second, Justin and I are decorating for Christmas early again this year. Pre-Thanksgiving. Why? Because we can! {Fake tree.}

So tonight we're doing the traditional Erickson tree-decorating thing. Basically that means dinner will be snacking on crackers and port wine cheese, olives, and smoked oysters while playing The Christmas Revels CD and drinking egg nog. Look, it's tradition. I have no control over how I was raised. 
Tree decorating dinner
Third, how about these vintage Christmas linens, eh? The hand towels still have 93¢ Duckwall's tags on them and I was shocked to find the tablecloth is still unused with it's original tag also. I'm thankful for vintage linens and all the elderly people who preserved them for us. {Thank you Dorothy, thank you Eugene. I love you Florence, and you too, Archie.}
Vintage Christmas linens
Finally--because it's not like me to do a blog post without sentiments--I just have to say that I'm missing my grandmother right now as we find ourselves in the holiday season. Holidays have a way of highlighting someone's absence. 

For a few weeks there I could pretend my sister was still up in Longmont a mere 45 minutes away. But nowadays, it's hitting home that she is all the way over in the Carolinas doing whatever it is they do out there for Thanksliving. {She addressed Thanksgiving today on her blog too, and yes, the monkey bit IS true.}

I have a fond memory, however, to share from last Thanksgiving. Grandma was a good sport as my silly family staged a Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving photoshoot:
My family has fun together. This is one good memory I have from last year that I'll be holding onto this year. Oh yes, we did dress the baby up as a turkey.
thanksliving Cherish the ones you love this Thanksgiving and this Christmas season.


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The story of my first painting...

The Story of my First Painting 
I didn't really want to post my painting here without giving a little background as to why I even decided to paint something in the first place, so lucky you. You get a whole post of paintings here...

To understand why I decided to start painting, it might help to look back at my family history. My great-grandmother Erickson was an artist, and I'm sometimes told that I'm very much like her in many ways. I guess she was a creative soul too...also, I've been told we share the same pointy, ski-slope nose.

My great-grandmother Erickson painted this portrait of my father as a toddler, probably in 1959:
Bradford Erickson by E. Erickson 
She had an impressionistic style, I think. I have this painting of hers hanging in our living room:
Painting by E. Erickson 
So many of you might know that my father is an artist, but you might not have known that it goes further back in our family than that. 

Though I was too young to remember my great-grandmother Erickson before she died, I did grow up watching my father paint. Throughout my entire life, I've seen a countless number of canvases morph into works of art by my father's hands. This is one of his paintings from a few years ago:
His Old Vest by Bradford Erickson
His Old Vest oil on canvas
by Bradford Erickson
And another one of his recent works, my father uses oils most often and I love the colors in this one (though I've seen his watercolors, pastels, sculptures, and even furniture and font design during his days of earning his art degree when I was a child).

So I suppose creativity is in my blood, though I will never be the artist my father and great-grandmother became. My reason for showing you some family paintings is to demonstrate how I was immersed in art growing up. When my family vacationed, we'd occasionally hit up places like Disneyland, but more important we'd head for places like the Norton Simon Museum all excited to see that Degas sculpture of the ballerina. You know, things like that. I didn't always appreciate it at the time, but I certainly do now.  

That said, for as creatively inclined as I've always felt, and despite making things with my hands for as long as I can remember, I've never tried painting until now. At the ripe old age of 28, I finally decided to try it, and here's why (of all things)...

One thing you do not know about me, I LOVE primitive Americana art puzzles: 
Primitive Americana puzzles 
I have a closet full of these puzzles, most of which I thrift, and I love to do them, especially seasonal ones. My mom always had a Charles Wysocki (or like) calendar on the wall when I was growing up, and though this art might be considered campy to some, when you really start looking at these paintings, you just have so much fun staring at all the little details. 

Here is a Halloween puzzle I did last month--and this is what really started to give me a hankering to paint. A painting by Jane Wooster Scott, who is one of America's most reproduced artists according to Guinness. 
Jane Wooster Scott 
It's funny to me that despite my artistic upbringing I never really wanted to paint anything until I started doing these primitive Americana puzzles. Maybe I've found my niche, finally? 

Like with all art, there is a place for this style, which is in the same spirit as the works by Grandma Moses and Edward Hicks. For some reason, I'm drawn to it. Like I said, they're fun to look at, but also full of nostalgia. 

Plus, this style of art is very forgiving, so maybe that is why I was willing to take the risk? Idiographic, my dad calls it, in that all you're trying to do is get the idea across and not get into realism. Similar to the way children draw, and that's what's fun about it. 

So my first goal when I set out to paint a Halloween painting in this style was to find a muse, and I found one in this house. An old Victorian just a few blocks away from us, I've always loved to look at this house:
My muse 
Then I really bit the bullet and purchased some supplies. I honestly had no idea if I would be able to complete a painting or not. But I started to block it and paint anyway. I had to try.
blocking my first painting 
So how did it go?
First, it takes a lot more concentration and skill than I ever realized.
But most important, I really enjoyed myself!
I'm telling you, I had so much fun doing it, I can't wait for another blank canvas.
At the same time, I feel like I gained a deeper understanding of my great-grandmother Erickson and my father, just by doing what they did.

Now I know why my dad would slurp his spit and grunt while focusing so hard on certain brush strokes. I found myself doing the same thing. And I get why he would stand several feet away from his painting, and just stand there. And stare. For hours. I get it now. Again, I found myself doing the same thing.

Finally, I'm excited to paint more, but I also know now that I have a lot of things to teach myself and a lot of practice ahead of me. I already learned so much, just with this painting...
Me painting my first painting

But I've gone on long enough.
So without any further explanation or chit chat about it, here it is. My first painting:

Halloween Night by Heather Erickson
Halloween Night 
acrylic on canvas, 14 x 18
by (me!) Heather Erickson

If you wish to see more details you can click on the painting and zoom in, but here's a few shots of the details...

This was my little homage to my grandmother who passed away this past spring. A lot of these primitive Americana paintings show horse and carriages, I wanted mine to be a business carriage so I decided to use her name.
Mary Kay's Gourmet Apples
In the distance, two little ghosties enter a covered bridge:
These two little trick or treaters were stolen right out of a Jane Wooster Scott painting. I decided to add them to my painting and make them my own.
Trick or Treaters
And the house, again, was inspired by a house a few blocks away from us. Next, I am thinking of maybe painting our own house at Christmastime. We'll see...

Either way, I had a great time, I love my painting. Though it's not perfect (this is another thing I found myself wondering, how does an artist ever decide his work is done??? You could add to and refine it for, well, forever) it is certainly better than I'd hoped, being my first go at it and all.
Halloween Night by Heather Erickson

{I'll be asking Santa for some quality brushes and acrylics now that I know I want to continue.}

Thanks for taking the time to read this post!


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Halloween 2012

Me & my girls! 
Halloween was lots of fun for us this year, both girls getting to enjoy the fun of trick or treating, and a nice night for us in general. 
Little tiger Violet 
Justin left work early so that we could hit the streets a bit before the sun went down. My neighborhood is such a joy to trick or treat in! Big sidewalks, pretty houses, the streets are always packed with families and EVERYONE decorates in my neighborhood. 
Trick or treat, little tiger! 
Part of the fun for me is getting to peek inside all the other big houses in our neighborhood. I'm not a stalker...I just like to see how people decorate. 
One tiger was brave enough 
Parents are often seen with pumpkin beers or solo cups of wine while trick or treating with their kids in our neighborhood. Our neighbor across the street even hands out beers as "treats" to adults. There is just such a good vibe here on Halloween night. 
Trick or treaters 
As long as the house wasn't too scary, Violet had no reservations hitting them up for candy with her sister. 
Tigers trick or treat 
In Colorado, many Halloweens we have to put our kids in parkas and snow boots to trick or treat in. This year, we could not have asked for a more perfect night. It was warm (for October in Colorado) and beautiful. 
Halloween sunset 
So we hit up a lot of houses...
Castle house 
But then dark came and my parents came over after work. 
This is getting to be a tradition, I like that they can be here to answer our door, and then we have a nice warm dinner together when the girls are done trick or treating. 
Me & my mom 
So when my parents arrived to watch the house and eat our food, we headed out once again, this time in the dark. Oooh!!! Spooky!!!
Orange glow 
See what I mean about everyone going all out in our neighborhood?
Christmas lights are the same way. I love it here. 
We even saw a party bike riding around the neighborhood, giving out candy. 
Doesn't that look like fun?
Party bike - reverse trick or treating 
This is one of my favorite houses in the neighborhood. Maybe I'll paint it...
Americana house 
We took turns, ringing doorbells, begging strangers to give our children much needed candy. Seriously, I love this holiday when I get to stalk see in my neighbor's houses. 
Momma trick or treating with her tigers 
Coolest door of the neighborhood:
The hobbit door house 
With the moon rising and two tiger bags full of candy, it was time to head home for...

{Justin put up our Halloween lights at 3 p.m. that day, by the way.}
Our house 
Time for pumpkin soup! Edie's Chipotle Pumpkin Barley soup, to be exact. SO complex and SO delicious! We're definitely going to make it again soon. {We doubled the chipotle peppers in it, does that make us tough? ;-) It was so yummy!}
Soup Tureen 
I wanted to use a soup tureen...well we only have one and it's from my great-grandmother's fine china, so I busted out the Johnson Brothers and made our Halloween dinner look all fancy schmancy. 
Fall salad (it's only fall because it has a gold colored pear in it...) 
Also some Dearly Beloved wine, brought all the way from North Carolina's Trader Joe's by my parents the week before. {Thanks mom!}
Dearly Beloved wine 
It was such a wonderful meal to end a great night of Reformation & Halloween celebrations!
Chipotle Pumpkin Barley Soup 
My dad, who is usually the first to want to leave and go home to bed, suggested a game of cards after we after we ate. 
Playing Kings in the Corner 
So that is what we did, we taught my parents to play Kings in the Corner, and we laughed lots.
Poker face 
I love Halloween. 
Halloween Moon

Thanks for visiting!
Now, on to the holidays, full speed ahead. Oh boy...
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