A Little Feat

“If you’ll be my dixie chicken, I’ll be your Tennessee lamb, and we can walk together down in dixieland.” Originally written by Little Feat, and rediscovered through Dave Matthews and his sneaky live recordings.

Bored one night and falling deeper in love with this Spring inspired quote I decided to try my hand at a little illustration/calligraphy work. For the most part I’m quite happy with how it turned out.


The Mitten Tree

While trying to fill some space on my autumn gallery wall(I promise I will post how to hang a gallery wall super super super soon) I happened upon this print on Etsy by O’Reilly Ink. I really enjoyed the simplicity of the piece but wasn’t crazy about the colors. Plus I didn’t feel passionately about any of the tree species featured.

I decided to create a knock off print based on the design concept but featuring colors and subjects I was more into.

I selected the Sassafras tree as my study subject. If you are not aware of the amazingness of this tree it’s also lovingly called the Mitten Tree. Scientifically it’s the only deciduous tree that produces 3 different shaped leaves (at least the only one in the North East/North America).

There is also a fairy tale version “How the Sassafras Tree (or Mitten Tree) Got its Leaves” (as best remembered by yours truly)

Once upon a time there was a little old lady who had a cabin in the woods. Winter was coming so she decided to make some mittens. She finished her first mitten and realized she forgot the thumbs.

So she threw that pair out her window. The following day she tried again to make a pair of mittens this time she knitted too many thumb holes so out the window that pair went.

Finally the following day she knitted the perfect pair of mittens. Thumb holes in the right places, plenty of room for fingers.

She went to bed that night proud of her work. She woke up the next morning to find a mouse scurrying out of the cabin with her perfect mittens. Luckily she remembered how to make the proper pair and didn’t think much of the mouse, hoping the mittens would keep him warm. Winter came and went and the little old lady had warm hands all winter long. Then it was time for Spring which brought on the usual chirping birds, blooming flowers, and a remarkable new tree outside of the old lady’s cabin. A tree which was growing right outside the window she threw all her failed mittens out of. Now, what made this tree remarkable was it’s leaves reflected all the mittens she made over the last winter.

And that my friends is the story of the Mitten Tree.

So, anyway, this is a story I grew up with and a tree I always look for when out and about. This tree I decided shall be my muse. Creating the artwork is pretty easy, anyone with mild artistic talent and computer skills should be able to pull it off.

First dust off your pencils and sketch the leaf (leaves) of your choice. You could probably trace the leaf if that makes you more comfortable. Once you’re happy with your sketch grab a thin tipped Sharpie or other black inked pen. Outline the leaves and add a few veins for good measure.

Once the sketching is done and outlining is complete scan it into your computer. I used Photoshop however even Paint would do the trick. Open the scan up and use the paint bucket tool to fill in the fields with whatever color you desire. Finally find a fun free hand font and add the genus, species, and common name to the graphic. Print that sucker up slap it in a frame and admire your amazing artistic skills.

Yay cheap and easy diy artwork!

Picture Perfect

I will confess, I’m usually open minded to most things, however as an Interior Designer, I can not stand when artwork is hung too high.  Frankly it drives me insane. I’m surprised I hold myself back from walking around with a hammer and nails readily armed at a moments notice to pull pictures off walls and correct this horrible fate.

Remember the one simple rule and you too can hang like a pro (and avoid crazy designers punching new holes in your walls).

The 1 Critical Rule to Hanging Artwork:

All art work should be hung at 57″-60″ on center. On center means that the center of the piece should sit at 57 inches. 57-60 inches because that’s the average eye height of a human being. (Like I said it’s so simple!)

The only catch? Rules are made to be broken. Sometimes depending on what you’re looking to do it makes sense to hang lower or higher. Example. If artwork is meant to be viewed from a seated position (ie couch) the eye height naturally will be lower. If you’re looking to make a gallery wall or other massive artwork collection spreading out to both extremes of the wall is fun and unique to do.

Here’s some inspiration for fun ways to hang artwork that we’ve been enjoying for months now.

Grouping smaller frames into a bigger overall layout. Artwork doesn’t have to be expensive to be beautiful. The upper left and lower right were pictures taken during a fall trip to the Berkshire Mountains. The upper right and lower left are simply scrapbook paper (less than $1 each) which can be found at any local craft store.

Staggering picture frames on a wall. These were pictures from one of our fall getaways to the Berkshire Mountains.

Picking a linear center point and hanging frames horizontally. In this example each frame was centered at that magic  60″ height. These photographs were mainly taken on a family trip to Maryland. 2 were from our trip to Grand Manan and the one city scape was taken by my sister.

Additional linear horizontal example. Another trick to hanging artwork is to have the images in the grouping relate in some way. Be it subject of the pieces (pumpkins) type of artwork (painting) or color palette (deep-toned Autumn colors). This pumpkin tryptic is quick little paintings I’ve done of pumpkins we’ve acquired over the past fall seasons.

Symmetrical grouping. In this example the larger Palisades Amusement Park print is the center and the other smaller prints are evenly balanced on each side. Also this is the only grouping so far that I actually “purchased” artwork. The top left and bottom right were bought off of Etsy for less than $20 each. The Palisades print was from a poster website for around $25. The other 2 pictures were from our engagement. Bottom left is a detailed shot of the Helicopter and the upper right was snapped by my man as I was getting out of the Chopper touching ground for the first time as an engaged lady. It was one of my favorite shots from the day.

I should also point out for all you apartment dwellers out there 90-95% of these pieces were hung using 3-M command hooks. These hooks are worth every penny. No holes, no mess, and super easy to use. Also, sold as most craft stores that send around 40% off coupons. Double thrifty score. After all those inspiring examples in my opinion there’s no reason for anyone to not have artwork on their walls. It makes your place feel lived in, homey, and if you chose artwork that is meaningful you’ll never get tired of looking at it.