Backyard Art Camp – Wayne Thiebaud

Today, I’m jazzed to talk about art with kids! A while back, I was contacted by Jane of Buzzmills, and she invited me to participate in the awesome Backyard Art Camp series she is co-hosting with Melissa of A Happy Stitch. The idea is simple and brilliant: choose an artist, learn about said artist and work, then create a fun project inspired by the artist in some way with your kid(s). I was immediately in. And knew instantly who I wanted to feature: Wayne Thiebaud.

Wayne Thiebaud is an American artist who became famous for his dessert paintings during the Pop Art era, which I’m sure you’ve seen at some point. I checked out this book from the library months ago and was reminded of how much I love his art:

It’s a simplified version of his life, of course, meant for children, but I enjoyed it immensely. I especially love the accessibility, the humor, and beautiful use of textures and colors of his work. I saw his oil paintings for the first time at the SFMOMA over fifteen years ago, and spent the most time in front of his pieces. I love that he was tenacious and painted his whimsical art despite having a hard time getting taken seriously. There is a quote from him in the beginning of the book: “I had a great life, so about the only thing I can do is to paint happy pictures.” And I agree. His paintings are cheerful and buoyant.

So. The book was not available for this project, unfortunately, but K and I viewed this video together and looked at a few of his paintings online. Then we dug into the best part: creating the project!

I decided to make it a two-in-one project including cooking and painting. Part 1 was the making of “fruit pizzas” and Part 2 was the painting of the delectable creations. Following are the easy steps. This is a great project for kids aged 4 to 8 – the kids I did this with are 7 and 8, and they loved it.


Butter cookies
Cream cheese (plain and strawberry)
Fruit (any fruit that strikes your fancy, but we used pineapples, strawberries, mandarin oranges and blueberries)

1. Make the cookies. We used this recipe and the cookies were fantastic! Store-bought would also be more than OK, especially for younger kids. Each cookie was about three to four inches in diameter.

2. Spread cream cheese on cookies and decorate with fruit. K and her buddy S got very creative with these!



Canvas (I had 8×8 inch canvases lying around, but you could get similar ones at your local art store. Plain paper works just fine too, but the girls got a thrill from using real canvas)
Acrylic paint
Plastic dishes or paint palettes
Papertowels/napkins for wiping off paint

1. Let the kids arrange the fruit pizzas on a platter or cake stand, unless the kids are very young. Spillage will result in very unhappy painters.

2. Place small dollops of paint in different colors on a plastic dish or palette. Let the kids go to town. I did do a brief art lesson explaining how Thiebaud applied paint thickly to get the texture and how to mix colors, rinse the brushes, etc.

3. Admire their work and take pictures! Bonus: dig into the fruit pizzas after the paintings are done!


Make sure to check Buzzmills and A Happy Stitch for fabulous projects, and there are oodles of other art-inspired projects from the other Backyard Art Camp participants too:

Happy Friday + Art Show Wrap-Up

Happy Friday, everyone! What a good week it’s been. I taught ceramics to kindergartners yesterday, and they are the best. I love how there’s no inhibition to ask for help, how they are all naturally brilliant artists. I say, “make an animal” or “create a story with just symbols and images” and there is no shortage of inspiration and they dive in with gusto. Not an iota of hesitation. So great. I have much to learn from these five-year-olds.

My art show is wrapping up next week! I made thank you cards for the folks who purchased my work; I cheated and they are machine-stitched onto cardstock, but I think they’re still in keeping with the general sashiko theme. The fabric got a little wriggly when I sewed onto the paper, but whenever I don’t uphold Martha Stewart-esque standards, I just shrug and tell myself, “it’s charming.”

There are five that didn’t sell, but I have grand (secret) plans for these so they are spoken for at this time. I’ve already shown you a few others and the one above called wabi-sabi, which I am claiming for myself, but I don’t think I’ve shared the other four yet:

Iro Iro (Color Color), 12″ x 12″, Acrylic with embroidery on linen canvas

Shiro (White), 10″ x 10″, Embroidered linen patchwork embroidered onto canvas

Hachinosu (Beehive), 8″ x 8″, Acrylic with embroidery on linen canvas

Uchi (House), 8″ x 8″, Acrylic with embroidery on linen canvas


And a haiku:

Some tutorials
I  did not get to finish
Next week, I promise

Almost done with the photos, but need to write it all up. I have renewed respect for all you amazing ladies who post tutorials on a regular basis; I feel like I’m creating a stop motion video! Have a lovely, lovely weekend friends – it’s March, which means spring will be upon us so very soon!

Art Show Update

Due to popular demand (not really, but I’ve always wanted to say that), my art show has been extended! Instead of taking them down today as originally planned, my art will continue to be displayed at Drygoods Design through the month of February. The pieces that have sold will go to their lovely new owners next week (7 out of the 12 sold, and I even got a couple of commissions, which is amazing), and we will donate the proceeds from those sales to the Sandy Hook Elementary School Support Fund. The remaining few pieces will stay up, and I may even be able to add a new one or two in the very near future.

The two above are papercuts that sold (with the stunningly original names of “Cut 1” and “Cut 2“) and they were displayed in this awesome sewing studio:

Where they have charming touches like these (little sewing kits! love ’em!):

And here are a couple of others that have sold…

Kansha, which means gratitude in Japanese. Embroidered linen stitched onto canvas. 10″x10″

Kumori (Cloudy skies), acrylic and embroidery on linen canvas. 8″x8″

The three digital prints of my watercolor/gouache patterns also got snapped up and you can sort of see them here  (it’s the second to last image and they are resting on the couch). Drygoods will be posting the other available pieces on their website some time soon and I’ll keep you informed! And if you’re in the Seattle area, you can still check out at least some of the pieces (and possibly new ones) through the end of February. Hurray!


Happy Friday + 100 Dresses

Happy Friday! Last week, I received a lovely request from a reader to feature a post about one of my previous art shows and of course I happily agreed. It was actually a joint show with my mother and happened way back in 2009…I dug through the archives and found some images, but let me start from the beginning. It’s a little long, but I think it’s an interesting story and hope you’ll like it too – plus it’s about sewing!

My mother had almost given up on grandchildren. I had been with M for many, many years without any signs of marriage or babies and my biological clock was ticking away loudly and was near expiration. There were joyous whoops of disbelief when M finally popped the question (a rather funny story that I’ll have to share with you one day). Seven months later, a Buddhist priest married us (neither one of us is Buddhist; another entertaining story) and a year after that we had K. My mom had waited a long time to be a grandma.

My mom has always been a prolific creator. She paints, she knits, she cooks, she gardens. But what she really started doing those early days of K’s infant-hood was sew. As a new grandmother, she was positively smitten and obsessed with baby K. I began receiving ginormous boxes filled with handmade baby dresses from Los Angeles. The dresses were adorable, artistic, and often ridiculously lacy and covered with beads. She had no concept of choking hazards, but we worked with that. They were suffused with love and what made them even cooler was that all the dresses were sewn out of recycled fabrics, refashioned from yard sale finds.

However, we were living in a tiny apartment at the time and I was having trouble finding closet space for all these glorious garments. K was outgrowing them within minutes, and soon, the number sky-rocketed to over 300. Yes, 300 dresses. I was starting to panic, because in my heart of hearts I am a minimalist and I was starting to feel buried under mountains of miniature party dresses. Eventually, I started to offer the dresses to friends who had daughters. Perhaps “begged friends to please please please for the love of all things holy take some dresses” better describes the situation. They were so beautifully made, I just didn’t have the heart to donate them to Goodwill.

It so happened that one of my dearest friends — upon whom I unloaded a large number of dresses — was working at an art gallery. I remember walking around Greenlake together, strollering our daughters, and she said to me, “You know, those dresses are like pieces of art…you should have a show”. I kind of nodded, but didn’t think much of it since I wasn’t quite sure how I would pull that off. My friend went to the gallery owner and lo! the owner loved the idea.

My mom and I decided to select 100 of the best dresses and “100 Dresses: haute couture meets toddler wear” was launched. We also wanted the proceeds to go to a good cause and chose the local Food Bank and Boys and Girls Club. (M has asked me to please stop giving away funds from art shows to charities; “We aren’t rockstars, Honey,” he keeps telling me). We set the whole thing up to be an auction, which was so much fun. Over 100 people came to the opening night to start bidding and K got her 15 minutes of fame on the local news. We had one of our favorites framed but didn’t include it in the auction (shown above – it’s made out of an amazing dupioni silk), so I guess it was technically 101 dresses…and that’s two-year-old K below, the girl who started the craziness.

I curated and coordinated all aspects of the show with the owner and her friend who is a stylist. It was amazing (especially working with a stylist! I wanted to become one!), but it was grueling work putting a show like that together – so many complex components! But when those 100 dresses went up on the wall after hours of steaming and planning configurations late into the wee hours of the night before the show, we all gasped. It was breathtaking. Trust me, these photos don’t do them justice.

The auction lasted a month and we generated $5,000, which went above and beyond our expectations. My mom couldn’t believe that people would pay money for dresses made out of salvaged fabric that she whipped out for her itty bitty grandchild. Every single dress sold. Oh, my mom and I also displayed some paintings, but really, it was all about the dresses. The gallery was called Gather, and it was a fantastic space and I really enjoyed working with the owner, Jen. Unfortunately, they closed a few months after our show — it was the recession after all.

My mom is an artist with a capital A. She is fiercely unique and has taught me by example to be my own person no matter what. She was recycling and re-purposing decades before it became trendy and mainstream and has always incorporated elements of sustainability into her art. You can see some of her art here. Nowadays she knits things for K since I do a lot of sewing, but she’s prolific as ever…

And that is the story of 100 Dresses! As part of the show, I made this poster with all 100 Dresses and each one has a Japanese name. Unfortunately, my original file got corrupted (tragic! It took me forever to digitally cut out all those dresses), so I took a photo but it’s a bit hard to see all the details. The piece-de-resistance are the two kimonos that have zippers in the back. Genius!


Thanks for the request, Karina! Hope you made it through the story, and have a fabulous weekend, everyone!

A little wine, some art, beautiful fabric

I had such a wonderful time at the Art Walk! Located in a historically preserved area in Ballard, Drygoods Design is tucked behind a tiny coffee shop and is so very charming. They change their window display frequently and I am loving these clouds with raindrops.

I haven’t figured out how to take indoor nighttime shots, so please bear with these photos…I’m still practicing.

With a lot of vintage and salvaged wood pieces, I’ve said many times that if I ever had a coffee shop/fabric shop + sewing studio combo, this is exactly the kind of place I’d own. The two are actually separate establishments, but work really well together.

A bunch of my friends came to support the show (thank you!!) and there was quite a steady stream of Art Walkers flowing through the space. And though I get minor stage fright being the center of attention, the whole experience was great. Two of the pieces sold in the first hour, which was amazing. I’m so appreciative that I’ll be able to donate something to the Sandy Hook Support Fund! The owner and I are talking about offering up the option of an online sale, but the show will be up for another three weeks so we’ll keep you posted!

I wasn’t able to get decent shots of the sewing studio where I had a couple papercuts since there was a class going on, but I got some okay photos of my textile/painted embroidery canvases and framed watercolor prints. I realize this is still sneak peek-ish, but I want to leave a little bit of a surprise for folks who haven’t checked it out yet…

(I have a mind to sneak in at night and steal that Chesterfield sofa – it’s so cool and comfy.)

The response has been overwhelmingly positive, but to be honest, I was quite distracted by all the amazing fabric that Drygoods has available. I mean, Liberty Tana Lawn!! I am salivating…

Again, if you’re in the Seattle area, I hope you’ll be able to take a peek at my art, and I’ll post any information on making the pieces available for online sale as soon as I can. Special thanks to owner Keli, who was the consummate Art Walk party planner (extra extra thanks since it was her birthday that night!) – she’s a dynamic mover and shaker, and her shop and studio are AWESOME.