Tag Archives: art story(ies)

our portrait collection continues

Hi! It’s good to be back after the holidays. I hope you had a nice one, maybe a change of pace for a bit. We traveled a lot as we always do, but we’re home now and I’m actually home-home for a day with no work. A rare treat for me these days. The girls start back to school on Wednesday.

So today will be a day of unpacking and packing. Actually, we’re pretty much unpacked, just not fully put away. That seems to always draw out for awhile, particularly after the holidays when we come back with extra goodies in our bags. But there will be some packing up as well – I think I’ll start to take down some of the Christmas decorations, although I’m sure we’ll leave some up through the weekend. And then I have to somehow wrap my head around packing up more of our house – as we live in it – we don’t completely know how the phasing of these house projects is going to shake out, although we should have a clearer idea about that soon. Regardless, there’s going to be a big push to clean up and clear out, and Januarys are good for pushing me in that direction.


You might recall that last Christmas the girls and I gave M two custom oil paintings – portraits of both girls for our portrait wall. I decided to keep up that tradition and build on it this year.

Funny story though…

I contacted local artist Cbabi Bayoc back in late summer about doing a piece for me because – get this – I was SO on top of my gift game. He graciously agreed to the project and then asked me to send him a few photos for ideas. I was catching up from vacation and busy at work, and so I sort of forgot about my return email. (For a few months.) I felt terrible about it, but it didn’t even jog my memory until early October when we were eating at SweetArt for breakfast. M mentioned to me that he’d love to contact Cbabi sometime to see if he had a print of the alphabet painting (slide 11 in that link) he had done for a library branch M built last year. (His actual piece was produced at a large scale on glass.) Outwardly I told him that was a great idea; inwardly I remembered that I had never followed through on the portrait piece.

I sent off an apology email and waited to hear back – but I didn’t. Fall marched forward, and I tried again. Still nothing – I knew he was busy. I looked into Plan B, and found an artist, June Chang, working in watercolors, that I liked through Minted’s custom artwork service (scroll down and you’ll see the girls on June’s page – I highly recommend working with her!). I sent June one of my favorite photos taken by Yvonne Niemann for our family, and she loved it and got to work.


I sent her a deposit… and then Cbabi emailed me the next day. (Of course!)

He found some time, he loved the bridge photo I sent him (my favorite as well), he could do the piece sometime in the next week and a half – what could I say?


Well, yes.

So that’s how I ended up with two paintings this year for M. OK, three. Because Cbabi also gave me that alphabet painting M had wanted!



I just adore this watercolor by June – she said it was her favorite piece all year, and I think it’s so perfect. The original photo by Yvonne was taken on the lawn outside of Central Library – you can see all of those photos here. (Do you see the little mouse in F’s hand?)


And when I picked up the piece by Cbabi on the morning we left for our Christmas travels, I almost started crying right in the restaurant. It was just so perfect.


I love this photo of the girls at the garden – he captured their round cheeks, and the light of the day, and it’s such a special place and memory to me. I love his style of painting and I love everything that he does, but this has got to be my favorite piece by him. I love having one of our garden mornings captured this way.


So cheers to more lovely art to adorn our walls – whenever all those walls are finished! 2017 is already off to a colorful start.

(story)time: I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More!

I’ve mentioned this before, but some of my favorite places to shop for books are the gift shops in museums and attractions around town. More often than not, the selections are well curated gems that relate directly to the experience of the place. My favorite bookshelf is the one at the garden – I think they do a wonderful job of selecting well written and beautifully illustrated books about the natural world. The zoo, the history museum, the art museum – all of them offer relevant subject matter.  I used to be bothered by the presence of gift shops at these places, but now I look at them differently. The girls don’t need a souvenir of every trip they make inside, but I never say no to at least looking at the bookshelves. They know me well, and have learned that I might say ‘no’ to lots of things, but rarely for a good book.

F put this theory into action on a trip to the art museum with her grandparents last fall – they are even easier sells than me. She chose this book – I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More by Karen Beaumont, illustrated by David Catrow. The girls loved it the first few times they read it, but now they find it completely hysterical. The little boy (or girl? we disagree on this in our house) gets his/her hands on some paint, and the body art begins. Despite very clear instructions from mother, page by page, another body part is embellished with great strokes of color and pattern, dripping remnants around the room and throughout the house. 

The structure of each page leads with a rhyme such as “Like an Easter egg, gonna paint my…” and the page is turned to the “Leg!”, drenched in even more color than the last appendage. The child vows again and again to be done with the paint, but the bare canvas of skin proves to be too much. Oh, the joy there is on our couch when we reach an almost fully painted kid with the exception of the still clean, slightly hard to reach rear end. “Well, I’m such a nut, gonna paint my…”

What?!” interrupts the mother, as she discovers the mess in front of her. How delightful it is to almost nearly yell “Butt!”… but not quite. Resting right on the edge of inappropriateness is far more exciting than just plowing right through the thick of it.

Funny, funny, funny. It’s funny to say ain’t over and over again. It’s funny to watch the dripping messes swirl around the pages. It’s funny to rhyme the parts of the body throughout. It’s a funny book for any kid, especially those kind that battle daily between the rules of the house, and the irresistible temptation to break them – just a tiny bit, or with big, broad brushes. I might just know one of those.

Find these titles at your favorite local independent bookstore. Happy reading! 

two steps forward, one step back

I’ve talked about this before – about the shifting required in any home renovation project. We spend a lot of time doing it, and it’s probably one of our least favorite aspects of always having a house with some sort of ongoing project. Which means we try to minimize the times we do move things. We did some pretty major work on the living room, which got us fired up to continue on into the dining room – and that meant shifting the dining room furniture out, and a lot of it came into the living room. It’s been almost six months since the living room was completed, but there were still piles of objects that I wanted to hang on the walls. The problem was, those walls were all covered with furniture that won’t ultimately be in there.

M had to head out of town a couple of weeks ago for work, and I asked him if he could move the furniture out – at least temporarily shift it – so that I had a clean slate to work with. The piles were getting to me, and I just needed to buckle down and get it done. So he moved them before he left, and then I worked each night until the wee hours of the morning getting things onto the wall. I’m always amazed by how long that process really takes.

I started in the corner by the entry door, and finally hung the clock I assembled sometime last year. I didn’t have a giant cool looking nail to hang the top of the leather strap, but I dug around the basement workshop for awhile until I found something that would work. I installed a drywall anchor and then used every bit of brute strength I had to install the giant black screw with a hex head.  I was also trying to install things around the (still imaginary coat rack) in the corner.

Here – let me show you what it will look like eventually. Ignore the quick photoshopping of the ghost like coat rack there.

The white clay piece under the clock is a little rendering of our house that I did, and the brown kraft paper to the right of that represents the photo calendar I mentioned here that I ordered. I’ll take a close up of this area when it arrives later this week. 

I’d still like a little ledge at the door – I’m particularly fond of this one from onefortythree, but I think the proportions are a little too large. Maybe down the road M and I can design and build something similar. I don’t want this area to look like a mud room – it is the living room first and foremost, but it would be nice to have a place to put the dry cleaning slip, or the outgoing mail on the night before it needs to head out the door. We’ll always have a wardrobe downstairs (because we have no closets on the first floor), but we’re moving that piece into the dining room and out of the living room because it’s just too congested and visually cluttered with it in there. I don’t plan to actually use that coat rack – which sounds completely stupid, I know. I’d like it there for guests to use though, and anyone with a particularly gorgeous looking scarf (!)… Really, I like it for the proportions and the contrast between the metal and the walnut just as much as for the actual function. I’m fairly certain we will entertain more once we have it, don’t you think?

I’m most proud of “the hanging of the typewriter” – vertically on the wall, with four heavy duty brackets installed into four heavy duty drywall anchors. Because deciding to hang it on an actual stud would have been far too easy. It’s still there, ten days later, so hooray for hardware. It took an hour+ to hang by myself, but it’s up and it’s happy.

I found a copy of a favorite quote of mine – with a painting of a typewriter below it, no less – so double score for the lovely tribute to writing that I was looking for. Someone suggested framing this letter than E typed long ago, but alas, I cannot find it anywhere. I loved that idea though.

We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.
The drafting tools – a scale and a mechanical pencil – belonged to my late grandfather and were given to me after he died. 
I also bought some more of my favorite Framatic frames and framed a couple of E’s recent works. My parents always hung my work around the house – taking the time (and spending the money) to have many of them professionally framed. I can still recall where every painting hung in the first house I can remember from my childhood. It makes a difference, to hang their work – I believe it, and try to do it as much as possible – even when I do it in smaller forms. These were two pieces E did in a mixed media class this summer.

I hung one in the living room, and moved another piece from a printmaking class several years back in school to the living room as well. The underwater sea painting now hangs where the city print used to, on the third floor.

I like to use the deeper Framatic frames where you mount the artwork on top of the mat, rather than behind a mat with the center cut out. I like the dimension of the floating piece, and I also think it emphasizes the work itself. Kids’ art comes home in hands or backpacks, sometimes a little rough around the edges or a little wrinkled. Highlighting this in a floating frame seems like the right way to go. I also remember to pencil in their specific title for the piece in the left hand corner, and their name and date on the right. Always sign your work. (My mom will laugh at this, because I never liked to when I was young.)

In the front corner by the door, I hung the three black and white photos from our wedding. These hang with wires from the picture molding near the ceiling.
Here’s an Instagram closeup I took when F announced she wanted to set up her house under the wedding. She asks me about once a week whose back that is in the picture. I think she’s completely baffled that we would hang a picture of ourselves without our faces. She occasionally pouts that she didn’t get any of that cake either.

Swinging back to the right, I hung four of the family portraits we took last fall. I needed something small and clustered here, with enough space around it so that it didn’t look too cluttered with the bookshelves right there. I love these photos, and can’t wait to get more of them on the wall.

I also thought I’d give you another shot of that marble table find I spoke about last week. The chairs are still pink, but that’s okay. I love them enough to look past the blush.

And one more shot for the ages – with my quick growing fiddle leaf fig showing up in the mirror. I’m going to attempt some pruning in the spring (that’s when I’m reading it’s best to do it), but it makes me a little nervous. It seems to be thriving here, so I think it can handle it. The room looks so good in this photo – it makes me smile. Which is good, because about three days after I took this, all the extra furniture got moved right back into this room – now it’s just standing twelve inches away from the newly adorned walls. Shifting is always the price of progress. Thank goodness for an amazing husband who worked the entire three day weekend, and who is strong enough to shift things around when I ask (nicely, of course.) Onward, upward, my friends!