A few thoughts on Inspiration and being an artist

Last night I was sitting here with a few things running through my head as I was busy painting. In my world of a furniture artist it seems to be growing a plenty. Whenever I get asked “…and what do you do?” by the grocery lady or a new mom at the preschool. I always cringe in my answer. I don’t know why…. I guess I just don’t think people will think it is a REAL job. And I almost always get in response. ” Oh…….yeah I painted my grandmas old dresser once”. Not that I am discrediting their grandmothers dresser… Im sure it was lovely.

One of the things I love about my close groups of painter friends that I am in touch with often… is that they get it. They know that feeling when you find a dresser that you CAN NOT BREATHE without. Or when you haven’t painted in a day and a half and you need to in order to feel like you. What we do is no joke… we live it. In every part of our lives. ok… that might sound a tad dramatic. But when you have found something this close to your heart, you wouldn’t have it any other way. It really isn’t just a job. Its something inside of you that drives you, makes you who you are.

I have been asked, how did you start painting? Well I remember always being drawn to art in some way or another. Honestly I always thought I would be an art teacher. Mainly because of the studio itself. I loved all of the art supplies. The endless mounds of paper, and paint…ah! Its kinda how I feel about my studio now… I love to have endless options, its how I work best.

Ive done a lot of photography and some canvas painting over the last few years…and I felt like I was searching for something to give me more fulfillment. Then when my husband and I had our first baby I went into full nesting mode. I wanted all new furniture and I moved things around constantly. Ok that last part hasn’t changed much. I was sick of our stuff so I painted it. I had no clue what I was doing, I made it way more work than I needed it to be and made SO many silly mistakes. But I LOVED it. I just kept going. Not that I ever thought it was going to become a blog, a business or that I would be working with some of the most talented woman in the area… not at all. I just loved it, in the purest of ways. So I learned all I could, soaked up my mistakes and taught myself step by step. As I grew in my skill my style was starting to develop and that felt awesome. In my last post I talked about my goals for the new year and I think they are so very important. I hope to never stop growing and feeling like I want to improve. And even though I have made strides from my silly mistakes on the first few pieces to where I am now, the thing I am most grateful for is how it drives me to be better. I feel like I have so much to learn. I read this quote on Pinterest the other day that spiked this whole internal conversation and it said:

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In whatever drives you, you owe it to yourself to be original. Get inspired by EVERYTHING you see and use it to lead you were YOU are suppose to be. It is so easy to look around you and say .. I want to do that! But I challenge you to think outside the box and create your own path with your own ideas and your own art..whatever that may be. I am inspired by so many great people and I am so thankful for that because it has opened me up to exactly where I need to be.

…. and with that…I have a few custom pieces in the works that I am hoping to post this weekend. Hope your Friday is going well so far!

xo
Amanda

Layered Milk Paint Dresser

I finished up a beautiful dresser this week by layering different shades of milk paint and I think it turned great! It is a nice way to get dimension to the look of the paint. There are a lot of reasons why I love to paint with milk paint. It challenges me a bit sometimes but you can create a really authentic unique patina. With that being said… it can be temperamental and it takes patience but the end result is worth it!  With this piece in particular I knew I wanted to paint it Driftwood by Old Fashioned Milk Paint Co. from the start. I love the way this color looks over a deep mahogany. In my head I kept thinking of this buffet I did about a year ago. This piece was one coat, I used it to sort of create a wash over the warm wood.
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Here was the paper (from Spoonflower by Elvie & Co.) and knobs (online wholesaler source) that I picked out for the project.
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The layering idea sort of came as I went. I started with a spray shellac by Zinsser. Which is a great way to “prime” your wood before painting. Then I did two coats of just Driftwood. I was going to stop there. But I decided I wanted a look with more dimension, maybe even weathered. So… I mixed a small amount of Buttermilk milk paint by Old Fashioned Milk Paint Co. into the Driftwood and and painted another two coats of the lighter shade. I sanded well with a 400 grit between each coat to get a really smooth finish. I then finished it with a last coat of just Driftwood and sanded really well to get all the layers to come through. If you have ever painted with milk paint before you know that it sands really well with hardly any work. I sealed it with clear wax from Maison Blanche Paint Company and then buffed really well. I typically only do 2 maybe 3 coats of paint depending on the piece, the layered effect does take more coats.. but its fun to try!

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It was hard to get the photos to capture the true patina and color variation so you will have to try some layering and see what you think. I think you can get this look using all kinds of paint… use your imagination and creativity. No limits! Have a great weekend. 🙂

Amanda

Before and After–Blue/Grey Buffet

Let me start by saying that this piece was one of those pieces that was just easy from start to finish. I think sometimes we read blogs and see a beautiful painted piece of furniture and don’t really think twice about the road along the way. At one point my husband said to me… you should write a book on all of the REAL stuff that happens to furniture as you are painting it. Because most of the time its funny, a little crazy, frustrating but above all a journey! From having a buffet nearly fall off the back of my dads (borrowed) truck on the freeway, to leaving a piece in front of my fireplace to come back and find all the paint peeled off. Or the number of times my cat had laid on top of wet paint, my son pouring a gallon of my favorite latex paint into his lap.. oh and bleed through, the yellowing, and the VENEER! Man… every piece has some wild story before it gets to the final photo shoot of yumminess. The photos make it look easy. The “before” and “after” always make me smile. .. because you know there was a little more story and possible bad language somewhere between those shots. Anyway to bring me to my point, this piece was none of the above issues. Which, let me tell you was AMAZING. It came to me from less than 5 miles from my house. That within itself is a miracle. Here’s her before shot..

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I chose a pretty light shade of milk paint by Old Fashioned Milk Paint Company in Slate. With milk paint you always have to be prepared to accept the unknown. Everything from the pigments dissolving nicely, to the magical chipping… everything fell into place with this lady. I ordered the most amazing crystal ball knobs to go with the whale print paper… for some reason they reminded me of the glass balls you can sometimes find on the beach.

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This piece to me feels  like it should go in a vacation home. It sold within a week or so after I brought it to the shop… just a good luck piece all around. I want more of those good luck pieces… I could get used to that, but then I wouldn’t have any ideas to add to my book.

xo
Amanda

A new year, new perspective , and a 2fer furniture reveal.

This year has been quite the wild ride, both personally and for my little business. Can I just say I am a little teensy bit excited to start 2015. There is something about a new year that is so refreshing. It gives you a reason to say…ok…. breathe, think, plan, organize, be better. Start again!  My next year is going to be exactly that. I am learning to breathe. To take a step back and realize I am my own worst critic… and in such a huge way.  I realized that I put a lot of weight and pressure on my shoulders without even noticing it. Its hard to admit you are less than perfect at parenting, marriage, friendship, and your job. I do believe that we grow and learn though. It is ok to make mistakes, take ownership and most importantly allow just a little grace. We can allow other people to own our motivation and self worth too… and that’s no good. Its exhausting, and hurtful .  I have so many goals for myself this year. I want to fine tune my art. Allow for more risk and push my skills. Keep growing as an artist, as a person, a mom, a wife and a friend. I spent the last few days organizing my finances with the business, updating inventory, bank accounts, taxes, ordering supplies and business cards etc. (I also bought a new buffer… more on that later!!) And today I played all day with my kiddos and husband at the children’s museum. If it was at all fair to them (or me ;)) I would wish that they would stay young forever because they are so much fun. As they ran throughout the place, yelling  and laughing like crazy, I felt the tiniest arms wrap themselves around my kneecaps. When I looked down I saw my youngest little guy and as he lifted his head to look at me he said (in his 3 year old,  over pronounced words) ” I love you MOM”, and then ran off to play. In all the crazy, it just made me melt.

Ok, you are probably ready for some furniture…on to what I think might be my first furniture makeover of the new year! Before I started I did a light sand with 150 grit and then smoothed with 400, I also sprayed a coat of shellac to block bleed through. Because I was painting this one a pretty light shade and the wood is mahogany I thought I would take the extra precaution considering the chances of bleed through are pretty high on a piece like this.

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Awhile back I posted a picture of some fantastic paper I bought on Spoonflower. I knew I really wanted to use the deer print for this piece because I had ordered some stunning knobs to match. Originally I thought I would paint her with chippy light cream milk paint from Old Fashioned Milk Paint Co. But I didn’t order in time, and I have no patience. Plus I really wanted to design the whole piece around the paper. Its darling and I love when every detail goes together. I decided on Seagull Grey from General Finishes with a touch of Queenstown to give a little depth to the color. This paint is wonderful and paints very smooth with such great coverage.

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I sealed her with 2 coats of Masion Blanche clear wax. If I use wax, this is my go-to. For real, its amazing. One of my resolutions was to work on my finishes. Especially with wax. I like a good shine and always appreciate it when I see a good finish. We are never done learning, and I would really like each piece to look and feel wonderful. I bought a Ryobi Buffer and can not say enough. I think it was about $25 at the hardware store and what a difference it makes. Seriously… go grab one.

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Here she is all dressed up..

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She is all ready for her new home and went up for sale this weekend! I thought I would add photos of this cute little desk that I did this weekend too because it is such unique piece with loads of detail. I am a little sad to see it go, it sat unpainted in my daughters room because she loved it. Then she got a dollhouse for Christmas and was ok with letting it go.

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I cant even admit to you what I did to get this color.. you would laugh at me and discredit any painting related information I ever gave. All I can say it that it painted beautifully and gave a smooth finish. Maybe I have paint manufacturing in my future? I will say I sealed it with Masion Blanche dark wax and buffed with the new Ryobi buffer….

I hope you take time this new year to breathe, set goals, and grow. Most importantly just do your best, and let go of the pressure from you and everyone else!

xoxo
Amanda