Friday, June 16, 2017

The Tale of Two Mini Lighthouse Birdhouses

One of two lighthouse birdhouses
   Yesterday it was 112º here in Palm Springs, CA. The weather lady says it will continue to climb until it reaches 119º on Tuesday. Needless to say there will not be a great deal of outdoor activity other than walking the dog at 5 am and hugging the shadows as you sneak out to the pool enjoying its slightly cooler temperatures ... for at least a few more days. Once summer really hits you might as well bring your bar of soap and shampoo when going to the pool. The water is THAT warm! However, the HOA frowns on such actions so its just easier to stay indoors ... well, until the dog has to pee. Even she waits until her eyeballs turn yellow! She has turned expert in finding the shadows while tippy toeing to the shade.
   One of the things I've done is to convert the second small bedroom into a studio. There with my radio playing audio books or the iPad playing movies from Amazon Prime, I can paint to my hearts content. In the process of creating a birdhouse as a birthday gift, I dragged out a few of the too many mini birdhouses I own and between coats on the big birdhouse put a base coat on the small ones. Here is the tale of two of them ... $1 purchases at Michaels that at some time I thought were cute. Now, not so much.
First coat - Cobalt blue base color
   After reopening my ETSY store, one of the items that seemed to get constant views was another simple, small cobalt birdhouse with hearts and flowers long gone but still in their collective memory. Since it was gone, all I had were photos of it. Not wanting an ordinary lighthouse painted birdhouse and knowing people loved looking at the older, colorful birdhouse, I decided to try to create a round version on not one but two mini lighthouse birdhouses. One would feature flowers, the other swans, designs that were on the other birdhouse not divided into two!
Adding the red using a liner to create the hearts outline and
then a round to fill them in. Red added to top and bottom
   I have to admit cobalt blue is a very favorite color. I have a cobalt glass collection and am always on the lookout at the thrift stores for additional pieces.    Friends here know me for my love of red. I guess a red dining room, a glowing red Mazda and red accents throughout the condo would give a clue. So its red and blue.
   Between coats on one birdhouse I added colors to the other mini birdhouses as I waited for paint to dry. I have discovered that the DecoArt Traditions Extender makes painting so much easier without diluting the opaque color of the paint. When you are painting such small items, you are often reduced to using a liner brush to get even the simplest design painted. The extender is a godsend in helping with that process.
Side view of Floral Lighthouse
   It was at this point that I had to decide. There just wasn't enough room on a round birdhouse to recreate the elements used in a square one so ... since I had two birdhouses, I decided to take the floral elements and use them on one birdhouse and take the swans and use them on the other.
Floral Lighthouse back
   Decisions, decisions. Taking a pencil I drew on one creating a nice balance from front to back and working out the views front, back and sides. I should point out small may be better but it is not better on a small birdhouse. After getting too wrapped up in getting a color on all sides of one lighthouse and then finding I was smearing it, learned to do one side, put it down and then work on the other. Acrylic's dry fast, especially here in the desert, hence the extender, but not that fast. So it
really does pay to work on two (or more) at a time to avoid the inevitable smearing. As you can see your space and margin of error are pretty limited so you learn to do one thing and then move on to the other project.
   For me it is a constant design process. You are often so absorbed in what you are trying to do you actually don't hear or are in some ways even know where you are. It is a constant series of decisions and concentration of what you are doing and what you want to achieve. Very often a mistake will lead to another design decision that you realize is even better than the one you were trying to achieve. Serendipity I guess!
Swans Lighthouse back
   When I started doing this craft painting for sale on my ETSY store I did a series of birdhouses in sets of three. Everyone thought I was crazy but I worked hard on my designs and realized soon enough that even the same design that was hand drawn and hand painted there were differences. Even more amazing, they all sold! As I worked my way down the "line," by the time I finished the last one, the first one was dry and ready for the next step. While I didn't use the same design here I did use the same colors which made it easier most of the time. The extender made the drying time a little slower and I wished I had had three lighthouses. No matter, there were three other styles waiting.
Swans Lighthouse front
  In many ways craft painting is harder than painting on a canvas. A canvas is two dimensions ... width and height. However, after attending several of the world class art exhibits here in the desert, even that old rule seems to be changing. Multi-media canvases with many additional items besides paint are being created and many of them stand a canvas as we have always known it on its ears!
   When crafting on usually a wooden or maybe ceramic surface, you have the front, back, top, bottoms and sides to worry about. ALL sides are seen and getting them all balanced takes time.
   One of the things these birdhouses has shown me that despite the use of the same colors, there is easily an infinite variety of designs that can also be used with the same colors. That may be a concept that I might want to try. Using the same colors on a variety of items and designs. It certainly would make the painting process easier. As it is now, I have far too many paints and choices. You almost spend as much time trying to decide as actually painting!
   They are finally  finished and posted on my ETSY store.

   Here is the working list of items used in this birdhouse:
  •    Birdhouse - Michael's, $1.00@
  •    Paint: 
    • Birdhouse base - Folk Art Cobalt Blue
    • Roof / base - DecoArt Traditions Naphthol Red
    • Tulips / Swans / Accents - Traditions Opaque White (and one coat usually works too!)
    • Leaves - Folk Art Hauser Green Light
    • Leaves - Old Delta Dark Forest Green   
    • Top - DecoArt Dazzling Metallic Gold
    • Small Flowers / Stamens - DecoArt Americana Cad Yellow
    • Painted accents - Folk Art Pumpkin
    • Shadows - Liquid Shadow
    • Lines: Sharpie Ultra Fine Orange
  •    DecoArt Satin Finish
If you are interested, these are available on my store. Check it out at

Thank you for reading my blog. I invite you to take the time to read earlier blogs where the emphasis here is to explore the ways art and design affects our daily lives ... and always has. I share with you what inspires me with the hope that it will inspire you as well. Comments are always welcomed! Be sure to check my re-opened ETSY store ...

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