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Vanilla Sky Invitations

This mother came to me looking for a beachy, feminine sunset for her daughter’s baptism invitations. Swoon! I couldn’t wait to sit down with my watercolors. I love how the project came together, it’s a show stopper! The gold ink was a perfect pop on the vanilla sky color palette.

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Check these out in my Etsy shop if you would like to learn more or customize some invitations of your own!

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Custom Gold Letterpress Bookmarks

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Custom Gold Letterpress Bookmarks

I have been meaning to share these for some time because they are so charming. The color palette is so beautifully warm and feminine, and the thick pearl white paper with the shiny cording sets a tone of luxury for the set. Perfection for precious Amelia.

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2018

I’m not one of those New Year’s resolution haters. To me, it is inspiring that once a year everyone collectively tries to better themselves. Even if it doesn’t stick, the self reflection is important. We stare habit straight in the eyes and say “I want to try something different.” I have big dreams for 2018. Big, crazy, self-validated dreams.

For my family, 2017 was a weird cocktail of political anxiety and baby milestones. Uncertainty puts an interesting filter on life, a silent gratitude. But, fear based anything is not a endurable energy in the long term, it will deplete you, or defeat you before you even try.

So, my resolution this year is to believe in magic. I know that sounds silly, there is probably a better way to describe my thoughts. Let me tell you a story instead.

Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat Pray Love, interviewed a poet and shared this story in her 2009 TED Talk, and again in her 2015 book Big Magic. The poet grew up on a family farm and spent a lot of time in nature, working the fields. She claimed that she always felt a poem coming on, that it would thunder across the landscape towards her. She would race back to the house to get to a pen and piece of paper so that when the poem stormed though, she could capture it and transcribe it on paper. Sometimes, she wouldn’t make it in time to catch the poem, so she believed it kept going until it found another available poet. Check out the video for a much better telling of this story, it’s worth the 18 minutes.

This is the magic I am talking about. The electric tingle and intoxicating impulse when you are struck by inspiration that could drive a woman to race an idea storm. The enchantment and mystery of a project that calls you to work late into the night because you just can’t stop. The moment you have when you are finished, and immediately wonder how that happened. That’s the magic I am talking about. I want more of that in 2018.

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DIY Personalized Notepads

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Looking for a fun, inexpensive and personal teacher appreciation gift? These homemade monogram notepads are an easy and pretty project you can make with relatively basic supplies you probably already have at home. Pair it with some cute pencils and a nice thank you note, and you will have a personal and practical gift that your kid's teacher would actually use. Check it out!

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First, set up your monogram layout on your computer using Word or a design program and print 50 sheets. Remember to print on paper the size you want to make notepads, or cut it down after printing. 4x6 or 5x7 are good standards sizes that most printers can print. I have a guillotine cutter, so I printed on letter paper and cut it down to 4x9 after binding.

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Gather the remainder of your supplies. You will need binder or bulldog clips, cardstock that is cut to the same size as your paper, and rubber cement. 

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Collate your paper, sandwiching the card stock on the top, the printed paper in the middle, and two pieces of card stock on the bottom. Tap the end of the stack on the table to create a flat edge, then use the binder clips on both sides to secure a tight binding.

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Brush on a liberal layer of rubber cement, and place more binder clips over the area you just glued to keep the edge tightly bound. Allow the rubber cement to dry, and do another layer, placing the binder clips on again to let it dry once more.

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Repeat on each notepad. Allow the cement to dry until it is no longer tacky to the touch, about two hours. 

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Once the rubber cement has dried completely and set (overnight or twenty-four hours), carefully peel off the top and bottom layer of card stock, and there you have it! (I used my guillotine to cut mine down in this step.)

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Pat yourself on the back for being so thoughtful and crafty!  Your teachers are going to love it!

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Cheater Baby Quilt Tutorial

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Cheater Baby Quilt Tutorial

I have slowly been finishing the baby's nursery one handmade project at a time.  I had very good intentions of completing everything before he arrived, but I didn't even manage to have his crib assembled.  It's funny how different everything is with the second baby.

I finally made some time to work on his cheater baby quilt, so I took some pics to share with you all how easy it is to do something custom and special.  This fabric actually inspired the color palette for the whole space. I bought two yards of the Kona Cotton from Spoonflower, and one package of crib sized batting from amazon. This process is very simple, and the results look much more impressive than it actually was to create.

First, fold your fabric in half, and lay it with the print side face to face, matching the printed areas.

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Next, roll out your batting, lay the fabric on top, match the corners, and pin all the way around to hold everything together. Trim the excess.

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Roll up the stack to make it more manageable, and sew one side at a time, almost all the way around. Use the printed area as a guide. Leave a hole large enough to turn the quilt right-side-out.

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Trim the excess in a margin around the seam, and cut the corners at an angle so you can make a nice point.

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Turn the piece right side out. 

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Use a hidden stitch to close the hole. Knot your thread, and begin your stitch from the inside. Go through the other side and back out again, and repeat until you've reached the end, occasionally pulling it tightly to bring the sides together smoothly.  Be consistent with the size of your stitches. 

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Using the pattern as a guide again, carefully sew straight lines all the way across the quilt. Repeat for the other two sides of the triangles. Roll the quilt as needed to feed it through the machine.

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Trim any threads, and there you have it! Enjoy! 

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Book Review: Water Paper Paint

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My daughter and I are always looking for fun and easy ways to get creative together.  She is a five year old with a vision, so teaching her new ways to experiment and blossom is extra rewarding.  We YouTube a lot, but there is no better inspiration than words and pictures right in front of us to sound-out and emulate.

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Today, we cracked open the beautifully designed, inspiration of a book, Water Paper Paint by Heather Smith Jones.  Her eyes lit up with possibility page after page until she finally landed on our exciting quick project, creating an abstract painting using straws to blow watercolor around the paper.  This was also an opportunity to teach some basic color theory, as the watercolor inevitably streamed into previous colors.  This is the equivalent of magic to a kid, "Blue and red made purple, Mama!"

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If you are looking to begin painting with watercolor, this book is a great place to start.  I have been painting quite awhile, and even found it to be enjoyable.  It reminds me how fun it can be to just sit down and play with a medium.  The author's written voice was knowledgeable and approachable.  The images are a trove of colors and variety, teaching confidence building techniques with simple instruction.  This book would be especially interesting for those who are into art journaling.  It is not a serious book with overwhelming words and in depth information.  It is a book of watercolor exercises, encouraging success through practice and repetition.  

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Meet Cass

We added a beautiful little man to our family about two weeks ago.  He is so very precious, I've already forgotten life before him.  We are deep into sleepless nights and snuggly bliss, and I am soaking up every second.

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From my Watercolor Sketchbook

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From my Watercolor Sketchbook

Whatever you do, don't stop sketching.  Even if it is the only creative thing you have time for everyday, do it.  Try not to force yourself into it, let yourself get excited about it, put your heart into it!  That's where you experiment, and that's where you change and grow.  All my art teachers said this in college, and I wish I had listened sooner.

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These are new paints from my lovely husband.  I adore the saturation of the pigment!  If you like to paint with strong colors, check out  Kuretake Gansai Tambi solid water colors!

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Jingle Bash 2016: Photo Backdrop

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Jingle Bash 2016: Photo Backdrop

Another show, and another challenge accepted! These 8x10 feet paintings have become quite an event in my house!  I grow so much as an artist just by saying "yes" and going for it.  I should broaden that statement to person instead.  

I put my husband's GoPro to good use on a timelapse this time too!  Enjoy, I hope we see you tomorrow from 11-5 at Gilley's Dallas for the big show! 

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Hope & Fear

 I finished this painting earlier this year before I started growing a human and sleeping/not sleeping all the time.  It represents hope in transition. 36x36 inches, acrylic on canvas

I finished this painting earlier this year before I started growing a human and sleeping/not sleeping all the time.  It represents hope in transition. 36x36 inches, acrylic on canvas

One time I had a heated argument with a Buddhist. This is not the set up to a clever joke, although it is pretty comical. It takes a certain type of person to fight with a pacifist. Apparently, I am that person.   

The third trimester has made me somewhat of a philosophical insomniac, so forgive me if I lose the plot a little. It is 5:12am as I write this, and I have already been up over three hours. But, I can't stop thinking about this disagreement, and what we learned from it. And, what I can teach because of it.

Consider the concept of hope. To me, hope represents optimism for the future, and trust in the possibility that good will ultimately outshine evil. My friend stood to argue that hope was a derivative of fear. He then proceeded to explain how neither exist. This broke my brain or maybe my heart. It wasn't that I couldn't follow, it was that without hope, I cannot understand the point of existence. I do recognize truth in the opposition of the two, but prefer to think of it as an antithesis, rather than a byproduct. After all, there is a universally accepted duality in existence- light/dark, good/evil, happy/sad, hot/cold, life/death, you get it. The Chinese philosophy of yin yang is perceived by more than many to be the highest conceivable principle of existence. (If you want to read more about it- here is a link.)

I will say, I am somewhat sensitive about this topic. I pretty much consider it to be a personal calling to inspire hope in others. She is my beautiful, shiny muse. To argue that hope does not exist because it is a construct based solely on the existence of fear was enlightening and frightening for me. I never considered the nonexistence of hope before. There were two ways to go from this point of our discussion:  accept what he was saying and agree, or accept what he was saying and disagree. I chose the latter.

Let me tell you what happened after our argument. Neither of us stormed off. We didn't end our friendship or insult one another. We sat down together, had a drink on the balcony, watched the sunset, talked about all sorts of things, and we continued to love one another.

It is kind of perfect that our argument was about hope. It zooms out well in our current political climate. This is what happens when fear tips the scale.  Panic. The hateful rhetoric by both sides of this 2016 election has brought us to condemn and fear one another. And, I would even say a majority of us would consider it to be a grand misunderstanding of opposing philosophies.

What can we do before this bitterness escalates further? Before our lost relationships turn into lost homes and lives. Before someone draws a line, and tells the rest of us to pick a side. We can start by learning how to disagree again.

Our society is all equal parts of a body. Eyes cannot do what ears do, but we don't blind ourselves or cut off our ears because they serve different purposes. What good is an eye without a body anyway? What good is an ear by itself? That's a biblical reference, nobody go poking out your eyes. (It's 1 Corinthians 12:15-26ish, if you want to read it.)

Another thing we can do is unsubscribe from the hate and indifference of extremist media. Don't serve that master! Find humanity in every person you meet, remember and prioritize your compassion for others. The best part of this beautiful notion?  It is grassroots, baby, and it starts with the individual.  

Artists are going to paint, writers are going to write, comedians are going to make jokes. This is our purpose for one particular reason, to bring perspective for the future. In that way, I could never deny that hope exists, it's in my bones. I can, however, disagree respectfully, and continue to be a trumpet for peace.  That is something my friend and I will always have in common.

 

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Classy Gray Birthday Invitations

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Classy Gray Birthday Invitations

I drew this graphic well over a year ago, and have been waiting for the perfect project to use it!  I love the mood of these invitations, and can't wait to see them with the added charm of impression. 

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Edge Painting

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Edge Painting

Ever wonder how the pages on your bible get shiny edges? There are a few steps leading up to this point: cutting, burnishing with wax, collating and pressing for a perfect edge. Then, the fun part! Painting! (Bonus, my daughter and husband are playing drums in the background of this video 😂)

A video posted by Katrina Huffman (@curiousfanciful) on

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Read This Book: The War of Art

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I always find myself with a creative block after a big show or project.  It is like I have run out of creative fuel, and my idea bus is stranded on the side of the road at night in the middle of nowhere.  Often, I take this as an opportunity to enjoy the stars, or clean the windows until my tow truck comes along.  This could take days.  Or weeks.  A few times it has taken months.  After my daughter was born, it took years.  My tow truck driver is Steven Pressfield, and he's coming in The War of Art.

Personally, I listen to this short "jump start" of a novel on Audible because I need busy hands while listening to non-fiction.  But, however you best receive information, I encourage you to imbibe this knowledge.  I would have never considered this book, in favor instead of something more recent, or maybe with prettier cover art (shameful admission).  Regardless of a few dated references and some really out there topics, the heart of this novel is timeless and imperative for creatives, or anyone who believes in a higher purpose.  If I were a professor, my semesters would begin with this book specifically to introduce everyone to the formerly unnamed phenomenon he calls resistance.

If you haven't already taken the link above, and claimed your copy (new perspective on life) of The War of Art (clever name, I know. I revel in word play), allow me to further convince you.  Resistance is a broad term to define that which distracts you or repels you from doing your work.  Not just any work, I am referring to the significant work of your life.  What is your purpose, your genius, the thing that defines you and separates you as a person?  What is your God given gift or talent that you can share?  Well dang, heavy questions for this early in the morning, right?  Drink your coffee and think.

My life's work is art.  Whatever medium I can get my hands on that will communicate with the world (or even just one lost individual) a message of hope or encouragement.  I want to move people in a way that brings them to action or resolution.  I aim to inspire people to believe or have faith in themselves.  So, it is no wonder that the concept of resistance resonates with me.  If my message in life is to encourage others to try again, resistance isn't just my personal enemy, keeping me from doing my own work.  Resistance is my enemy in you, also.

Did I lose you?  Hold tight, I am going to break it down.  Resistance is the sensation that arrives when you are just about to embark on a spiritual/physical/artistic calling for growth, and suddenly have the overwhelming need to do the dishes.  Or play a video game.  Or begin a different unrelated project.  Whatever excuse that keeps you from not following your revolutionary path at class/church/gym/practice is resistance.  Resistance loves addiction, and insecurity- he has you right where he wants you.  "The more important a call or action is to our souls evolution, the more resistance we will feel toward pursuing it."  Resistance arrives wherever courage is required; it is fueled by fear.

Do you know what I am talking about?  Can you relate?  Seems impossible, right?  Now, imagine if you could learn to use that sensation as a compass to navigate where your best efforts should be spent.  Progress.  Transformation.  Fulfillment.  This book can reprogram your mindset about procrastination and reinvigorate your passion.  I have not even touched any concepts beyond the second chapter.  So, #treatyoself to something different this weekend, I can't wait to hear your thoughts! 

 

Note:  Thanks to my friend Aly Juma, who runs a brilliant resource of a blog, for introducing me to this book, and for enlightening me at least a couple of times a week with his writing.

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New Classic Wedding Invitations - Custom Letterpress

I have been obsessing over these all week!  It is a beautiful, rewarding feeling when I can combine my favorite mediums into one stunning project.  These have the WOW that inspired me to start my business!  Swoon!

I began with a vision from the bride that was classy and unique- square invites with modern script, and traditional serif block lettering.  I love this kind of design because I can pull a really deep impression, and the charm of letterpress has the opportunity to shine.

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Wanting to do something special for the envelope liners, I painted a loose, watercolor floral piece, and desaturated it on the computer to match the classic grays.

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What a lovely surprise to open an envelope and find!  The pieces stacked beautifully inside.

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I couldn't be happier with the finished set!  It is seriously everything I love about boutique stationery in one small, 5.75" square package.   I imagine the bride recieves a huge response!

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Thank you for reading!  Feel free to message me if you are interested in some of your own custom letterpress! 

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2016 Spring Bash Photo Backdrop

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2016 Spring Bash Photo Backdrop

Painting the Jingle Bash backdrop last year was such a spectacular challenge and personal victory for me, I decided to do it again for the Spring Bash!  If you have never been to rural Texas, here is a taste for you!

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Sea Glass

The second pattern in my Watercolor Summer collection is now available in my Spoonflower shop!  This may be my favorite of the whole set, I can't wait to see how people use it!

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Act Two

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Earlier in my creative journey, I felt the need to tear down everthing in order to begin again when I came to a problem. I did this over and over.  It was psychotic. Or neurotic. Both maybe.  The problem with this cycle is that I was perpetually at the beginning.  Starting something new is exciting.  Inspiring.  Infatuating.  It is not particularly lucrative or respectable.  I'm not looking for fame or anything.  I just want to be good at what I create, and I want to feel confident in front of those who know the difference. 

I read a book recently called Rising Strong by Brené Brown.  It was really hard for me to get into, and the whole thing left a sour taste in my mouth.  I was thrown by the examples used to explain her theories.  While I can understand insecurity and how it can taint your perspective, the concepts seemed to be vibrating at a much higher frequency than some of her stories.  I understand why.  It would be a lot harder and less entertaining to explain the process of coming to an epiphany without an example.  I guess the authenticity was simply lost in translation for me, personally.  In hindsight, it is possible that it just took a few months for her messages to sink into my heart, and those same examples became more relatable in daily life.  This isn't a book review (and if it were, I would absolutely recommend the book).  It is a long-winded, overly-critical set up to talk about one concept she introduced to me that helped me level up and break this cycle.  "You can't skip the second act."

If you are reading a book, the protagonist generally experiences a tumultuous upheaval that leads to a period of trial, then ultimately to growth and resolution. Typically, this section of growth takes place in act two of the narrative arc.  This is the substance of the story.  Without the struggle, the ending has no particular importance or sense of accomplishment.  Similarly, the creative process depends on act two.  It is non-negotiable.  "Experience and success don't give you an easy passage through the middle space of struggle.  They only grant you a little grace.  A grace that whispers this is a part of the process, stay the course."

I take failure hard.  Embarrassingly hard.  Failure gives me emotional vertigo.  I'm especially frustrated when I go wholeheartedly into something, and still can't get it.  This is either the moment when I can pile my offensive creation in the corner with my other dark, dirty disappointments, then start something in a completely different direction, extending the cycle of perpetual beginnings.  Or, this is the moment when I can take the night off, maybe pout a little, but wake renewed with a mission to conquer self doubt.  

"The middle is messy, but it is also where the magic happens."  I'm due for a little magic after the struggle I had yesterday.  Eleven hours of painting, and nothing to show for it.  I am in the middle of act two.  It is officially too late to turn back.  While I haven't quite figured out the ending, I have grown enough to recognize that starting something different will not bring me any closer to becoming the artist I want to be.  That feels a lot like progress.

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Perfectly Ripe

Perfectly Ripe

The first of eight mouthwatering new summery watercolor patterns is up on Spoonflower! I took my time proofing and editing and proofing again for a beautiful, natural repeat, and I am so excited to make it available for Spring and Summer projects!  Check it out, and if you are active on the Spoonflower community, vote for it in this week's watercolor themed challenge!

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