Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Goodbye, 2008!

Today's post is a look back at 2008:
Top 7 favorite photos:

Top 5 facts about 2008 (In no particular order)

1) I won an emmy this year.

2) I made the most life changes in history in a single year, and I survived! Maybe even thrived!
(New job, married, moved across 4 states, live with my parents, sold a house)

3) I made 2 international trips--to Sevilla, Spain, and Tuscany, Italy

4) Some of my friends and family have had their toughest years this year, and are ready for '09

5) A lot of the stuff I have stored at my grandmother's house which I thought was so important, I've completely forgotten about. Perhaps I don't need it all so desperately after all?

Now, top 5 Goals for 2009:

1) make more artwork. then sell more artwork.

2) Work on my illustration skills.

3) Apply to craft shows in KC, St. Louis, and Chicago

4) Design and print some fabric at Spoonflower

5) Design more blurb books: honeymoon book, a Quilt Encyclopedia of my family's quilts, and a family cookbook

6) Save, save, save, so I can move out of my parent's basement and into our grown up house.

7) Learn how to count. This is clearly more than 5.

Posted by Beth Howard @ 7:50 AM :: (1) comments

Monday, December 29, 2008

Non-Chrismas related artwork

I went over to Carrie's house a week before Christmas to hang out and make stuff. I've been drooling over the number stamps that she carved for my wedding table numbers. They were just calling out to be printed. It's still not completely out of my system because I kinda want to carve some of my own numbers, much bigger and make a giant giant calendar out of it. However, now that I actually typed out that crazy thought, it seems like something I might need to do NEXT YEAR, not this year.

I have a busy early 2009 with some unfinished projects and some new projects in the works. I don't really make New Year's resolutions, but I like Freshie's idea of affirmations. While I should probably strive for better work/life balance and I should CERTAINLY be vowing to exercise more, I need to keep my nose to the grindstone, as we are trying to sock away as much money as possible for a new house. I've been selling lots of calendars, which is great!

It's so easy living here with my parents because we have our own space, but yet don't have to do anything but pick up after ourselves. I have a hot, nutritious meal every night, and I don't have to cook, which has significantly increased my time to do design and artwork. Once we have a house, there will be major house projects, etc., so I'm savoring the time I have now and trying to be as productive as possible. We'll see how that goes in the next couple of months.

Posted by Beth Howard @ 9:00 AM :: (0) comments

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Shamelessly bragging about my Christmas gifts

I love getting gifts. I'm sure most people feel the same way. This year Jason's parents and sister drove up from south of Nashville for the holiday, so we really got a double dose. We had 8 people in the house for 2 days, and it was great!

First, Jason, the most awesome husband of all, got me this wall-mounted drying rack. I didn't even know that these existed, and I certainly need one. I could only find the floor kind, and they're like $1000 or something outrageous, and they take up like 15 square feet all by themselves!

Next, my mother-in-law made a longtime wish of mine come true and bought me a little Happy House from Art Dept. I've been drooling over these for YEARS, and I really wanted the little villa to remind me of our honeymoon in Tuscany.

Side note to this: I haven't been able to find this company because of their unfortunate name. Just try googling "art dept." or "art dept. ceramic houses" and all you get are university art departments and other junk. I accidentally found them through some other blog one day.

And most importantly to you blog readers, my mom and dad got me a new lens for my camera. It has an exceptionally low aperature-- 1.8, so I can take extreme details and beautiful portraits with very little light and interesting depth of field. I'm still messing around with it, but it was great to have a toy to play with on Christmas morning!

Posted by Beth Howard @ 8:36 AM :: (3) comments

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Jasons' Presents to His Mom and Mine

Here is the octopus painting he did for my mom:

Jason is really skilled at drawing. Up until recently, he hadn't done much painting, but when his mother and mine demanded a piece of artwork for Christmas, he got out the paint and brushes and went to town.

He sat in his little corner of the living room at a drawing table and worked on these for a few weeks before the holiday. This is proof that having a dedicated space in which to do your work is mandatory. If you are always thinking that you have to get out everything and put it away in order to eat dinner there, it's much less appealing of a concept.

This is the painting he did for his mom. It's titled "The AK goes Choppa Choppa Choppa." She didn't really know what to do with that, but I think she's really happy that he made her something.

Jason's New Year's resolution is to start his own blog and make one large scale piece of art per month. I say "YES". He better do it. I'm going to use this blog to publicly berate him if he doesn't.

Posted by Beth Howard @ 8:29 AM :: (3) comments

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Love Quilt

For lovers only. By Lauren Howard. She's gonna kill me for writing this.

My 20 year old sister Lauren has a friend who has been in Italy all semester long. He teases her constantly about quilting. I'm not sure he even knows what quilting is. But Lauren is a sweet girl, and she decided to make him an Italy quilt.

This was a really family effort. I drew out the layout and offered logistical and color theory advice. My husband Jason drew major portions of it, namely, the awesome gladiator, and our mom (AKA the Craft Fairy) pretty much did all the work. Well, Lauren sewed the applique pieces on it, but mom assembled and quilted it.

If she breaks up with this guy, she better steal the quilt back. It's one of my favorite quilts ever.

It's mostly made with fusible webbing around the large shapes and the blanket stitch (blind hem will work as well) on mom's sewing machine. Mom quilted it freehand.

Here is the older post with more details and artist photos!

Posted by Beth Howard @ 10:09 PM :: (10) comments

Would You Rob Your Neighbor for this?

The white splotches you see are just the gloss coat which haven't dried yet. I have a cold and my antihistamines woke me up at 5am.

On my mom's side of the family I have over 30 1st cousins. And lots of aunts and uncles. So we have a huge Christmas dinner at the hometown community center and do a huge and serious round of "Rob Your Neighbor" In past years, people have been known to bring a stash of fabric for the quilt they were working on, only to have it stolen by her sister, someone brought a concrete statue of the Virgin Mary (we're pretty Catholic) which was fought over quite a bit, and there's always an assortment of household utility items. I prefer to bring something that I would like myself, so if the pickings are slim (which they never are) I could always open my own gift.

I'm probably breaking a rule by posting this here, because I think at least two people who will be in on this exchange read this blog. But maybe they're off on Christmas holiday and won't see this. I'm a little worried that it's too funky for the crowd, but I'm going to make my mom promise to open it so I won't be too embarrassed. Deal, mom?

It's another fabric/painting where I put the fabric down first for extra texture and pattern. I really like the painting surface of the fabric more than the canvas anyway.

It's loosely modeled after this picture from the Tuscan roadside on our honeymoon:

I'm pretty sure mother nature and the Italians have me beat!

Ciao, Bellas!

Posted by Beth Howard @ 8:27 AM :: (3) comments

Monday, December 22, 2008

Roll out the presents

Okay, now that the celebrations have started, I'm going to start showing off some presents.

Today's is a family tree. My dad's side of the family does stocking stuffers instead of large gifts for each and every one of us. This year, I drew this little tree, then traced everyone's silhouette. Which was easy except for the picture getting part. But I have quite the library, and so does the rest of the family, so I managed.

I'm thinking about maybe cleaning this up and offering a download and tutorial on it...but after Christmas!

It went over quite well with the family, but I feel like the presentation was a little lackluster. I think I might blow it up much much larger than 8x10 and frame it nicely. As it was, I bought cheapo 8x10 frames at Wal-Mart.

Up next: My Rob-Your-Neighbor gift.

Posted by Beth Howard @ 10:03 PM :: (0) comments

The annual Howard Family Holiday Card

This year, we planned way back in August. We had our wedding photographer take photos to depict Bridezilla...It's the best one yet, if you ask me! Here are the previous years:

The original: 2004

2005: I got in on the action with Photoshop (and so did my dad's pet goose, Hector.

2006: Superheroes

2007: Fingerpuppets


Posted by Beth Howard @ 9:36 AM :: (6) comments

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

It's a sign of the season

This is what it looks like out my back door at 7:30 this morning.

I have been madly crafting, but can't show you because it's all for people who read this blog!

That's okay. I will show you when it's all opened and oohed-and-ahhhed over. I hope it will be anyway!

The weather has turned very, well, Missouri, around here. Lots of discussions with Jason about driving on ice, etc. Sunday night my parents and sister and I saw the Broadway touring show Ain't Misbehaving--with Ruben Studdard in Columbia. It was awesome! When we drove home it was 21 degrees and freezing rain. Here in Missouri we just don't let it stop us. If that were Tennessee, people would cancel all plans and go get 3 extra gallons of milk! I'm not sure who's crazier, but if we didn't go on about our business, all icy winter long we would be cancelling plans and getting cabin fever!

Here's something I'm doing just because. I don't know what it means or what I'm going to do with it, but I had a huge canvas and it's been ages since I've painted. It's not done yet, but I wanted to show you it's on it's way.

Posted by Beth Howard @ 8:31 AM :: (3) comments

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Shop Update!

There's much more coming, including an update to the calendar hanging system as seen below:

Posted by Beth Howard @ 10:50 PM :: (1) comments

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

The kitchen is finished!

The kitchen is finally done! I'd like to thank Ikea, my parents and say "screw you" to Lowes. It only took 4 month to get the countertops. Imagine if we had ordered the cabinets from them!

I celebrated by making a colossal mess with Black Betty--my new Kitchenaid mixer. It was the wedding gift to end all. I love all my other gifts too--and now that we have a kitchen I'm so excited to use all of them!

We ate off our new plates with our new forks and sipped milk from our new glasses, (and wine from other new glasses) for the first time. We also tried to use our new cast iron panini press without seasoning it first. The very first meal we tried to cook we set off the smoke alarm. Like Jason said, "Man, it's like we really are newlyweds. We can't make a sandwich without setting off the smoke alarm." Cute. I ended up slapping the salvaged paninis in the George Foreman.

Fast mixer. Large quantity of powdered sugar for Magnolia Bakery Vanilla Buttercream. Very large mess. But a very delicious mess.

Posted by Beth Howard @ 8:27 AM :: (2) comments

Thursday, December 04, 2008

My Labor of Love: DELIVERED

I am happy to announce that I'm finally done with the calendar! And I am beyond thrilled with the way it turned out. I learned SO much about how to make the best impression on the paper and what style of carving works best.

I spent lots of late nights with what Jason calls " The Industry--Ump-Shhhhh--Ump--Shhhh" meaning the press. Not to mention the fury of hand-carving 12 months! I finished the last 2 late last night, and am so excited that I couldn't sleep!

I really wanted to make this calendar--against all logic and everything, it just kept calling to me. It was a pull that was very strong. I can't really explain it, except with an insanity plea.

I'm posting it on Etsy today, with the caveat that they won't ship until next Friday. I hope everyone can be cool with that. I promised Priority shipping, so it will still get through by Christmas. It's going for $29 on Etsy, but if you read this blog and want one, I'll give you a special rate of $20! You've all been so supportive and kind, consider it my holiday gift to you! If you want to participate, just send me an e-mail and I can set up a special sale for you on Etsy.

So here you go with the photos, etc.

I have to say, probably my favorite month is October. I asked Jason to draw me something spooky, and he really delivered. I carved it up, and it just printed fantastically! I think we need to do more collaboration! It's brilliant, but maybe I'm biased.

I'm off to work!


Posted by Beth Howard @ 7:31 AM :: (6) comments

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Calendar Progress

Things are seriously crazy around here. I'm working 10 and 12 hour days at work, and I come home and draw, carve, print, draw, carve, print over and over again. I'm daydreaming on my way home from work everyday about things like "What does September mean? Can I carve a million polka dots?" Etc, etc.

I'm running out of canvases and old matboard to put all the prints on to dry. I'm really really on a race against time, because if I don't get these done in the next few days, they won't dry, and I won't be able to sell them on Etsy. That said, I'm going to use them as gifts also. And I'm only making 50 calendars total. Can you hear the blind justification in my voice? Nuts, I tell you, nuts.

I'm at 8 months completed, 1 more carved but not printed, and April, September, and October still to be carved. Off to my real job, which seems like a vacation after long evenings of manual labor.


Posted by Beth Howard @ 9:51 AM :: (2) comments