Friday, March 30, 2018

My Pastoral Landscapes

A pastoral landscape I painted is seen in this photograph featured in Romantic Country
magazine, Spring 2017 issue.  I don't think I have shared many of the paintings I created.
So lets have a look at them, shall we?
Pastoral landscape paintings are soothing and restful.  When I decorated
my home office I decided to paint some landscapes on the wall instead of 
hanging up artwork.  I framed them out with an exterior border so it looked
like a piece of artwork, and then I painted the interior area with various 
landscape scenes that conjured up the European countryside.
These were the first paintings I created and I absolutely loved them.
I made a mini movie in time lapse photography on how I created this painting,
and its on my Facebook page for those interested to see more of the process.
(Find my Facebook link on the sidebar of my blog)
They were such fun to create, so I ended up painting three for the walls in my office.
This was the staging area, where I covered the sideboard with a drop cloth and just added all the paint I owned.  I used Annie Sloan Chalk Paint to do these scenes, and lots of water and different size brushes to get the paint to flow.  I also used rags to create a mood on the borders.
Matthew Mead photographed the office for Where Women Create magazine in 2017.
You can see how the two landscapes anchor the back wall, creating a focal point behind my desk.
This was my favorite landscape painting.  I added a small building to the landscape,
trying to simulate a structure I saw at Versailles, in Marie Antoinette's Petite Trianon.
 Belvedere I believe it was called. Not exactly the same, but my interpretation.
These were all in the WWC magazine last year. 
Now this room has been repurposed as a guest bedroom.
  But I may be taking it back as my office this year as I miss the space.
This was a painting I did directly over another store bought painting, and it fit my living room so well.  One nice thing about painting pastorals is that they seem to fit any space, and you can add the colors that work well with your palette.  Imagine a pink sky if you had a lot of pink in your room. 
Here it is in progress, I start by doing the background with the horizon line separating the blue and the green. Then I build in the trees and highlight with light and dark shading. If I wanted to add some lilac or pink to the sky, you can imagine how different you can make the painting look just by doing that.
This large canvas was a fun painting project but a challenge.  I had to paint it outside.  Because it required so much paint, I used various paints, many of which were wall paints for the house.
Doing that also kept the colors within the palette I have going on in my home.
This huge canvas actually hides a door we don't use.
The room used to be so awkward, and this large painting served to make
 the room pretty and eliminate that door! Art with a purpose!
Most recently I painted a pastoral scene inside of my white piano. 
After painting the exterior to look like blue and white toile,
the idea came to me to put a landscape inside.
I have a feeling I will be painting more pastorals.  
You might want to give them a try yourself.
creating your own artwork is very satisfying. 
Look at how different the piano looks from plain white.
I even did a mini landscape on the music stand in the front of the piano!
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Thursday, March 29, 2018

An aged pastoral painting inside the piano and Reeve

My French Piano and a slice of life. 
 Last post I showed off how I painted the exterior of the piano with stamps and a pattern to give it a toile effect.  But I still was unsure how I wanted to finish the interior to give it even more of a French look.   I had a few days in a row off from watching baby Reeve, and I decided to tackle the piano.  The thought of putting a pastoral landscape for the interior came to me as I went to sleep that night, as often many creative ideas do.  The next morning I got up and took the piano lid off its hinges and started to paint a landscape similar to the few that I have been painting around our home.
This pastoral landscape, my largest, was painted on a big canvas.  
Searching for the landscapes that I have painted to show you, I realize I 
may not have posted on them at all, so look for that post shortly.
Back to the piano...
I unloaded the cans of Annie Sloan paint I had and started to paint a scene
 from my imagination.  After painting the landscape, I brushed white paint 
over the whole thing to give it a dreamy look.
The painting took me about four hours and I was thrilled with the results.
It was soft and elegant and old looking, something out of an old painting from
 the French countryside.  It is really pretty now that it is all finished! 
I wasn't sure if I should gild the edges, but for now I don't feel it....
and I always say: Doubt means Don't.  At least for now.
 My life is more balanced towards a family life these days, and when I get a chance
to do something creative its all the more enjoyable and special.
Reeve is nine months old and is such a JOY!
The weather has just started to creep into the fifties in Boston, and you can see the baby
carriage in the dining room all ready for afternoon walks with Piper.
 Piper and Reeve are such a great pair! 
 They both look forward to being together, and they are side by side most of the day. 
 Piper is so gentle, and its true that Goldens are great with kids!

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Monday, March 26, 2018

My Painted Toile Piano

Some of my most creative ideas come out of the blue like a thunderbolt,
like the random idea to paint my white piano with a toile pattern.
After watching some amazing makeovers using a stamp product line created by
Iron Orchid Designs, I was interested in trying it out, but wasn't sure where.
After repairing a leak in the ceiling and repainting the wall, I just thought to myself
I would use up more of the wall paint on the piano with the stamps from IOD.
 Stamping is a way to create a one of a kind personalized decor effect on
walls, furniture or fabrics.  I watched several of the videos from the IOD website
and found myself becoming so inspired to create something using a stamping method.
After purchasing two packages of different patterned stamps for IOD retailers (see below for links)
I created a toile pattern that fit the shape of the piano, kind of winging it as I went along.
 Because the paint is the color of the walls, the overall pattern is restful, instead
of busy.  I couldn't be happier with the result, and it only took me one day!
Mr. Maison Decor is away on a trip, wait til he gets back....
I actually don't think he will notice for a few weeks.  Then he will say
in a surprised voice, " When did you paint the piano!??"  
Our living room had been in disarray since the leaking ceiling, and tonight
he will get back and check the wall and ceiling that I finished up after his repairs.
And there will sit the Toile Piano, unnoticed.
But for me, she is a SUPERSTAR, and I am in LOVE with her!!
My son took a brief 15 second video of me applying one of the stamps
to the border of the piano.  Click the big arrow to watch.
Here is a photo showing the top a little bit better.
Is there a toile piano in your future?

Check out Iron Orchid Designs HERE
Retailers where I purchased my stamps:
Kathie Lee Jordan Designs (Canada) HERE
 Collette's Cottage (USA) HERE
Wall Paint used for Stamps: Ben Moore Woodlawn Blue
White Piano:  Annie Sloan Old White Chalk Paint

I used a combination of stamps from the Laurel package 
and the Pastoral Toile package, along with a large stamping block.
Due to the curved shape of the piano, I applied many of the stamps feehand,
and some of the prints were a bit muddy and not as clear.  But it didn't
effect the overall feeling, and after the paint dried, I sanded the entire paint job
with 220 grit paper to soften the overall look.  

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Friday, March 16, 2018

Gilt Louis XVI Music Chairs

Lovely old gilded French chairs. I have a weakness for them. 
 When I saw this sweet pair at an estate sale auction, 
I couldn't resist scooping them up.
Where they will end up in my house, I am not sure of yet, 
but I generally just buy things I love and they find a place somewhere.  
The details of the chairs just were so unusual with a backsplat depicting a violin and a cornucopia.  All the details are hand carved, and you can see the inconsistency that hand carved
 pieces have, when you look closely at the beaded details and other carved elements.
The chairs are so darling, and seem sturdy enough to sit on, 
but because of their age and diminutive size, 
I will use them as ornamentation rather that extra seating.  
In the meantime we are all suffering from cabin fever with the snow covering the ground after a blizzard dumped 18" on us in Boston.  Ugh.  I have a fierce desire to rearrange all the furniture in this room, and it happens every year when I can't stand the winter for much longer.
I know the dogs feel the same way. 
 Piper loves to pose for the camera, however Colby does not. 
 Many ask where is Colby?  Here he is, he gave me three seconds to snap the photo 
and then wandered off while Piper maintained her pose. 
 Colby was wondering why did I pull away the dog bed from the fireplace. 
 To take pics of course! I don't remember seeing the hearth since
 last fall as its been covered with a big old dog bed.
An Easter basket for Reeve sits on the music chair.
 Maybe after Easter, Spring will finally arrive!
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Friday, March 9, 2018

A French Coal Scuttle, my Simple Anti-aging Beauty Routine, and 1 week Diet Update

Lets start off with something French and vintage, shall we?  
A French coal scuttle in hand hammered copper and brass was a recent auction score.
  I imagined it to sit by the hearth in the lake cottage, as we have an old cast iron stove up there. 
 For now it looks pretty holding some faux hydrangeas next to our gas fire place.  
It will make a great container for seasonal decorating, holding twiggy branches, sprays of forsythia, or these summery hydrangeas.  I am still looking for unusual copper pieces, 
and since this was an old French piece I couldn't resist.  
My rule of thumb is buy what you love, and it will find a place.
Winter is still full on in the Boston area, and the dogs favorite place is right 
next to the fire in this enormous dog bed that fits the both of them.  
Real life at the moment includes the Aubusson rug still rolled up, 
I have yet to unroll and look at this gorgeous thing. 
 Because the morning I was planning to unroll it, 
I spotted a leak coming from the ceiling.  UGH.
Hubs got right to fixing it, and we spent all of last weekend repairing the thing together.  We also had started our low carbohydrate diet, following mostly the original Atkins diet.  We started on March 1 and the diet plan involves an "induction phase" of two weeks where you stay below 20 grams of carbs.  Counting carbs is pretty easy, and in the past this diet has worked well for me.  But now that I am over the age of being able to have babies, my body responds slower to dropping weight.  However I have had decent results this first week,  losing 3.5 pounds, and hubs dropped 6!  The hardest thing to get used to for me was skipping my glass of wine at night.  No alcohol for the first two weeks helps get the ball rolling with putting your body into fat burning mode. The first several days were a test of my will power but I am feeling like it will be worth it if I stay the course, as spring is coming, and I don't want to fight with my closet anymore.  You know.....those pants that used to fit that are too tight now?  If everyday I hate picking out my clothes, then I tell myself it will be such a pleasure to not have to deal with that unpleasantry anymore. 
 And I will look so much better! That is my inner self talk. 
 Pumping myself up by reinforcing what I am giving up to gain in only a few months ahead. 
 Spring will arrive, and I will be ready!! 
I also wanted to talk about my "beauty routine".   
Hahah! It feels weird saying that.  I am not much of a makeup person at all.
As a matter of fact my mother always tells me that I should put on lipstick. 
 I think lipstick is my least favorite makeup and I don't tend to use it. 
 I favor a more natural look, and I want the makeup routine to
 be simple and fast, and help with anti-aging if possible. 
 I snapped these pics this morning to share what my routine involves.  
(Ignore the heavy foundations in the upper corner, I save those for special times 
when I need more coverage.) But pay attention to the eyebrow stencil and the bronzer.
  Also, every morning I spritz Channel No 5 and without fail 
my hubby tells me how yummy I smell when I come downstairs. 
Not shown on the vanity are these two important creams that I use daily to start my routine.
Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream is my moisturizer, which firms and tightens and has anti-aging properties. I follow that with Hydroxatone Anti-Aging BB cream, both purchased at Costco.  The BB cream is a foundation that works with EVERY skin tone, so I didn't have to worry about matching my skin tone.  It basically is light coverage that enhances your skin, giving it some color, covering up and adding anti aging essentials like SPF 40, brightening and radical reducing ingredients.  I love knowing that I am fighting aging effects and getting some natural looking coverage on my face in one fell swoop!  
 The other miracle product I found that really made a big difference for me, was this simple eyebrow stencil that comes with an eyebrow powder.  I found it at Marshall's, and it has three stencil shapes to choose from.  My eyebrows have been wonky ever since I started to pluck them, and I kind of ruined their shape.  Sure, I have read about "getting your eyebrows done", and I have them waxed when I go to the hairdresser, but they cannot add hair, only take away hair.  And I have been noticing how strong women's eyebrows are when I watch TV and read magazines, and just resigned myself to having wonky mismatched eyebrows.  Well ladies, if you can relate and want an easy way to do your brows, look for a stencil kit like this one! 
As a young mom at 21, I had Brooke Shields kind of eyebrows.
Over time, they were over plucked, and I wish I had been told: 
Fast forward almost 40 years!! Where is the time going?

Anyway, I have been so happy with how this simple stencil has reshaped them, 
and if you have this issue, or no eyebrows at all, get one of these stencil kits!
After  I use after moisturizing and applying BB cream, I apply some black pencil eyeliner to my upper eyelid, do the eyebrow stencil and then quickly brush on some Clinique bronzer to my cheek apples, nose and forehead.  And I am set for the day.  
This routine takes me 3 minutes and it fits my natural look and unfussy lifestyle.
 At night I remove it all with facial cleansing wipes, 
either the Neutrogena or Kirkland from Costco facial wipes. 
 It is simple and I have been loving the products I found late last year.  
I wanted to try them out for a few months before sharing them with you.
(This is not a paid sponsorship, its just something I am very happy about).
  1.  Olay Regenerist Micro Scuplting Cream (moisturizer)
  2.  Hydroxatone BB Cream (foundation)
  3.  Brow Stencil and Powder by Max Studio found at Marshalls
  4.  Black eye pencil 
  5.  Clinique Bronzer
  6.  Chanel No 5

I know a lot of my readers are probably like me, not into makeup or worry too much about how
they look.  I love decorating and family life, but I want to look good without a lot of effort.
That is where the diet and this simple beauty routine come together to hopefully give me some
results that make it easier as I head into the next decade!!
And for fun, how about this fun "FaceApp"? 
Using a photo of my face without any makeup and a pimple on my nose (gah!) 
you can see how you look as a cover model!! 
All they do is add eyeliner and plump up your lips and then remove your neck wrinkles 
and facial laugh lines and you end up looking like a Real Housewife of Beverly Hills. 
Well that is NEVER going to happen unless I have a facelift, which I am not.
But by using my low key makeup routine I feel pretty good. 
Its pretty important to me to have a loving attitude towards myself as I age,
and not let it get me down.  If this helps my women of a certain age readers in any way 
or even just to laugh along, I am happy to share my struggles and discoveries. 
 Spring feels like a world away after yesterday's March storm, 
but when it finally comes I plan to be down a pant size or two!
I will be sharing weight loss results each time I blog as I continue this 
journey of fighting the pounds.  And how about some easy and yummy 
lo-carb recipes that have been key for getting hubby on board and fighting off cravings?
I will get a list together of our favorites. 

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