Adding a Little Value…

My Mom, my brother, and I had an impromptu thrifting adventure last week… They were in a second hand shop about ten minutes from home, and saw some things they thought I might like and called me to come check them out. So I did… Not quite what I needed, but we hopscotched down the highway to several other shops, and at the last shop I found something I wasn’t expecting to find, but definitely something I could use in the art room…


Sitting on an overflowing shelf were three “shapes,” a sphere, a pyramid, and a cube. Just what everyone needs, right? Well, immediately I knew what to do with them… They would be perfect hands-on thing-a-ma-jigs for art classes to help students learn to draw three-dimensional shapes. I’ve been wanting to buy a set for quite a while, but hadn’t gotten around to it, and here was a small set of three, for only $4! I didn’t know how heavy they were until we picked them up to carry them to the counter. Once I brought them home, I realized their intended purpose. The cube had the original tag from (insert famous brand store name) that said “Set of three paperweights… $58” Well! As you can see, we soon put them to their proper use while cutting backing paper for frames! Though I would have never paid $58 for three paperweights, it sure did feel good to know their value.

“Value” means “how much,” and in most cases we think about money or worth when we hear it. Value is also an element or building block of art and design. The last two weeks, we’ve been experimenting with Value in art class… the amount of lightness or darkness an object has. We discovered that extreme darks or heavy shadows can allow the light areas of a work of art to become focal points. And we played with making tints and shades by adding white or black to paint to create some interesting contrasts…


To add a bit more “Value” or “worth” to my Home is Where the Heart Is design, I played around with it by fancy-ing up the border. My favorite papercut border is a bit lacy or icy-looking, but it adds several hours to the cutting process, so I usually reserve it for “one-of-a-kind” paper cuts. But… if my new “assistant” can help with the snipping, I could add that border to the design! Sooo… I re-cut it!


What little things do you do to add value to your daily work?


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A Little Perspective…

Landscapes are not my “thing.”

I love landscape paintings, but have always had
a difficult time making them look realistic.
They always seemed a little “flat”… No depth.

But in the last couple of years, I’ve learned a few
tips for adding perspective to landscapes!

Tip #1… Overlapping

You can make objects look like they are near or far by simply
overlapping them… One will appear to be in front of the other!

Tip #2…  Size

You can make an object appear closer by making it larger, and you can
make an object appear to be far away by making it smaller…

Tip #3… Placement

Placing an object higher up on the paper
makes it appear to be in the background…
…placing it near the bottom of the page puts it in the foreground.
They higher an object is in the painting, the farther away it will appear!

Tip #4… Atmospheric Perspective

That one sounds pretty technical, huh?

One of the early masters of atmospheric perspective was Leonardo da Vinci! Atmospheric perspective simply means that things up close are bright and crisp, while things far away are lighter colored and a bit fuzzy. Maybe even a little blue-ish, or hazy. Next time you’re outside, and able to see a long way… such as at the beach, or in the mountains, or standing in a field… take a good look at how things look both far away and up close.

I’m still working on the Pumpkin Patch illustration…

Can you see how all four of these tips are being used in it?

Copyright Kim Frey, 2012

See all the blog posts about making
Pie from Scratch!
by clicking below!


Light and Shadow…

Whoops! I fell off the Blogosphere!

After a crazy weekend…

… And a Monday to gather my wits…

I’m climbing back on!

I figure I’ll just “count” posts up to 31, even if they don’t match the date.

So here goes POST #19…

Learning to Look for Light and Shadow…

Painting with different media provides different challenges in depicting light and shadow. I painted with acrylic paints when I was much younger, and always began with a dark background, building up to lighter colors. White highlights were the last thing added to an acrylic painting, such as the shine on an apple, or the twinkle in an eye.

In my 30’s, I took a watercolor painting class, and what a difference! Painting with transparent watercolor is completely opposite to painting with opaque acrylics. Because you can see through watercolor, you can’t just add white on top because the colors beneath will show through. Technically, there is no real “white” watercolor paint… most watercolor sets will offer some sort of opaque white pigment if you want to try to “fix” an area that you wanted to be white, but they don’t work very well. So how do you get white and other light colors?

You have to “save” the white. Basically, when painting with watercolor, you have to think ahead about where your lightest whitest colors will be, and paint “backward,” from lights to darks. If you want an area to be stark white, such as a highlight or gleam of sunlight, you can paint those spots with Masking Fluid. It’s sort of rubbery, so I like to keep a bar of soap nearby… you can suds up your brush on the soap before dipping it into your masking fluid. Oh… and use an old brush!

Once you have the white areas masked off, you can
paint a very light layer of paint over the entire object.
The lighter areas will be this color…

Since my light source is coming from the left,
the next step was to build up the darker colors
on the right side of the cream separator…

It works best to build up layers when the paint is still slightly wet…
Unless you want sharp lines, like you see on the legs.

When the paint is drier, you can use a “dry brush” technique
(As in not a sloppy wet brush) to add in the darker details…

And finally, you can remove the masking with a rubber masking eraser!

I’ll probably add in some more shadows later, using some grays mixed from the orange and blue, but isn’t it neat to see how you can show light and shadow with a single color? I actually love “looking for the light” when painting, and when I’ve been painting a lot, it seems that I find myself looking at everything in terms of lights and shadows. The more you “look for the light” and see how it shines in contrast to dark areas… the more you take notice of how the white of the paper even glows right through the other colors… the better your eyes are trained to recognize the light.

I think that’s pretty profound.

Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet,
and a light unto my path.
Psalm 119:105

See all the blog posts about making
Pie from Scratch!
by clicking below!

Painting Leaves that Pop!

Thought you might like some more painting tips!

Below is a fun way to paint leaves… Wet on Wet!

First, on a heavy piece of watercolor paper, draw a leaf shape… or trace around one that you find outside. Mix a light grey-brown from orange and blue and paint the middle of the leaf… but not all the way to the edges.

While it is still wet, add other colors…I used orange on one side, and blue on the other. Paint right up to the edges this time. the edges are still dry, which will let the paint look crisp on the edge. But go ahead and let the wet colors mix inside the leaf. And then added wet drops of blue-green and blue-purple.

When it’s almost dry, touch up your edges a bit. I used a little more orange. You want the paint dry enough so the edges look crisp, but still wet enough to blend the new edge paint into the middle paint. You can blend with a damp brush, if the paint is having trouble blending. When the leaf is completely dry, add some veins with very thin lines of paint and a dryer brush. You can also outline the leaf edges with a very thin pen, such as a Pigma Micron pen.

Here’s how the leaves will look in
Pie from Scratch!

And there are a LOT of them, so I’d better get back to painting!


Oh! We’ve had some great entries for the
Pumpkin Drawing Contest!

Gavin’s Pumpkin!

Great job, Gavin! What detail!
I Love the stem and the spots on the side!

Maddie’s Pumpkin!

Beautiful Pumpkin, Maddie!
It stands very tall and strong!

Owen’s Pumpkin!

Super pumpkin, Owen!
You did a great job with those curly vines!

Here’s a link to the
Pumpkin Drawing Contest
in case anyone else want to participate!

Thanks Gavin, Maddie, and Owen for sending in your drawings!!!

See all the blog posts about making
Pie from Scratch!
by clicking below!

A Bit of Blue…

Adding blue to the Pumpkin Patch illustration shows how much contrast those complementary colors give you! I had a bit of a dilemma when adding just this little bit of blue… Annie’s dress was going to be blue throughout the story, but Pop’s overalls should also be denim-colored. (That’s where doing Color Roughs would have come in handy!) So, I compromised by dressing Pop in a paler blue, and being more heavy-handed with the color on Annie’s dress…

Pumpkin Patch, copyright Kim Frey, 2012

I think getting the shading right on Annie’s dress
is going to be a challenge! Lots of wrinkles and draping!

And look what happens when you start mixing Orange and Blue…

You will get some neat grey-brown’s… subtle Fall background colors that will still allow my main colors to stand out. Usually, when I want to paint a stem and leaf, I’ll reach for a green of some sort. Light and lime-y for spring scenes, Leafy green for Summer scenes, or Earthy green for Fall. Using the color that we “know” something should be is called using “Local Color.” If you ask any kindergartener what color an apple is, they will usually answer “Red.” Using local color is like that… we reach for the tube of paint that makes the most sense to our brain. However, keeping to a color scheme gives the painting a more cohesive, unified appearance. I figure that painting this whole book in the same color scheme will be like brain therapy for me! 😀

Don’t forget the

Great Pumpkin Drawing Contest!

I’d really like to be able to include someone’s Pumpkin in
Pie from Scratch!

See all the blog posts about making
Pie from Scratch!
by clicking below!

Drawing and Painting Pumpkins… And a Contest!

There’s been a lot of talk about pumpkins around here lately.

And I think it’s about time you learned to draw them.

They are SOOO easy.

I think you can do it.

First, you make a tall oval…

And then you tuck a partial oval behind it on each side…
…Sort of like drawing “ears”…

Then you add another set of “ears”…

And you have your basic Pumpkin body!

Finally, doodle on a stem and vine…

… And a leaf and a curl or two.

I went a little crazy with this one… TWO curls.

It’s okay if your pumpkin is not symmetrical and leans to one side. Have you ever been in a pumpkin patch? Very few of them are perfectly straight. Your leaning-over pumpkin actually looks more “real.” And your stem can go any which way. Now YOU try drawing a pumpkin! I have confidence in you! So much so, that I just had a brainstorm for a Pumpkin Drawing Contest! Rules at the end of the post!!!

Do you want to try painting a pumpkin?

You just need one color for basic pumpkin painting…

Orange. Paint the whole thing pale orange…

Then, with a little bit thicker watercolor,
make a thin stripe of color on the outer edge of
each oval (or “ear”) of the pumpkin…

Mine looks a little schmookie because
I put it on the scanner when still wet.

Not a good idea.

Then when it’s still a bit damp, blend in the stripe of color…
…You’ll still need a bit of paint on your brush…

Yup. Wet paint on the scanner again.
But you get the idea.

Finally, using only clear water on your brush…
…Not a lot, just a little…
…Blend it in completely…

Soon you can paint a whole Pumpkin Patch of Pumpkins!

Copyright Kim Frey, 2012

And now for the…

 Pumpkin Drawing Contest!

If you draw or paint any pumpkins between now and
Sunday, October 14th
I will post them here on the blog!


I will choose my favorite
LINE DRAWING of a Pumpkin

One like this… no color, no extra lines…

To be incorporated into an illustration of
Pie from Scratch!

This is your chance to jump into
Children’s Book Illustration!

Out of ALL the Pumpkins submitted…
…Painted or Unpainted…
I’ll also choose my Three Favorite, and…

The Top Three Pumpkin Artists
will also receive a tiny painting

of a Pie from Scratch Pumpkin!

Contest Deadline: Midnight, Sunday, October 14

E-Mail Entries to:
kim (at)

See all the blog posts about making
Pie from Scratch!
by clicking below!

To Hurry or Not to Hurry…

I received an e-mail that I’ve been getting every Friday for quite a few months. It’s an e-mail I’ve thought about responding to, but never quite pulled myself together enough to sit still and work on it. Every week, Illustration Friday sends out an e-mail with a topic to illustrate in whatever medium you choose. It sounded like a really neat exercise to do… right there next to “Daily Painting”… so I signed up for the e-mails. And every week I’ve read the e-mail, thought about how it could be illustrated, and promptly filed those thoughts in the back of my head. But not this past Friday. I think I was still dealing with jet lag, and sitting still to doodle was pure therapy. My next-to-last math lesson is late, but I got the sketch finished. And even before they sent out the next topic! This week’s Illustration Friday topic is “Hurry!” and it is based on the quote…

All things will be clear and distinct to the man who
does not hurry; haste is blind and improvident.

~ Titus Livius ~

The quote is the antithesis to the topic, so I figured that I could go either way… To Hurry or Not to Hurry… if I claimed artistic liberty. So I pulled out an older papercutting design of mine and turned it into an ink & wash sketch… I’m going to try to link it in their “Pen and Ink” category.

Be still and know that I am God.
Psalm 46:10

Traditionally, Ink & Wash sketches are done with India ink, water, brushes, and dip pens with a variety of nibs. It can be a little messy, and take a little time…

But I tried out some new materials with this sketch…

One of my favorite new materials to use (at least new to me) is General’s Sketch & Wash pencil. It’s a graphite pencil with a nice charcoal gray line, but with just a dab of water, the lines can become an ink wash! It’s super portable, much less messy than India Ink, and if you’re sketching out and about, you can wait until you get home to add the water! This is a GREAT material for nature-sketching kids!

And my brand-new absolute favorite art supply is the Micro Pigma BRUSH pen! I’ve used the Micron Pigma pens for years in place of technical pens that have to be carefully cleaned and maintained, but had never tried out their Brush pen. I bought one recently, and it’s incredibly awesome. The point is extremely fine, but with a smidge of pressure, you can vary the width of the stroke…

Very cool. It helps me work a bit looser and heavier, since I tend to lean toward very fine, precise lines. And “loose and heavy” definitely helps in the therapy area for uptight artists. Waaay more relaxing. The Micro Pigma BRUSH would be a good material for older kids to use… they run around $3 a pen, so share them with kids old enough to understand not to put too much pressure on the brush/nib. I think it might squash easily under the control of a heavy-handed six year-old. I’d definitely recommend it for the “Twelve and Above” crowd, unless you have a very careful younger artist.

Happy Sketching!

In other news: Our oldest daughter Jordan is blogging about our California trip, and our young friend Kati did a post on our youngest daughter Kate’s Etsy Shop! If you get a chance, go check them out! You might even win something!

Before you toss them…

My Nana Anne saved every card and note she was ever given. She stored them in those plastic zipped bags that blankets come in, and after she passed away, we spent several wonderful (and teary) days going through them and making up little bundles to return to certain family members. After a few hours, we could often look at the outside of a card and guess who it was from before looking inside… we all must gravitate to the same type of greeting cards each year!

But that wasn’t all Nana did with old cards. Coming from the “Use it up, Wear it out, Make it do, or Do Without” generation, a stash of old greeting cards was a treasure! When I was little, if I mentioned having nothing to do, Nana would always pull out a box-ful of cards, buttons, fabric scraps, or magazines, along with some scissors and a bottle of Elmer’s and tell me to “make something.”

And I did. These were the pre-video game days. We didn’t even know what a video was. Her TV only got two channels, and one of them was PBS, and I thought I was too old for Sesame Street. So days spent at Nana’s house were constructive instead of entertaining. If I didn’t busy myself by “making something,” she’s find some work for me to do… but she’d make that fun too. 🙂 We’d take those old cards and cut them up to make new ones. Or gift tags. Or collage pictures. Or we would try to draw the picture that was on it.

“Be creative,” she’d say. “Imagination is a great nation.”

When I was in middle and high school, I became very interested in art, and developed close relationships with my art teachers. And guess what? They saved greeting cards too! In the pre-Google days, greeting cards were a free way of obtaining reference photos for drawing. Both of my favorite art teachers kept filing cabinets full of greeting cards, organized in manilla folders marked “Birds,” “Snow Scenes,” and “Flowers.” If I needed to know how to draw a rabbit, they would send me to dig through the “Reference File.”

So with that in mind, as I was taking down the Christmas cards this morning, I thought I’d share some ideas on how to re-use them before recycling or throwing them away…

Cut them up to make new scrapbook-style cards!
Save pictures that can be re-used, or even the sayings
from inside the cards! A box-full of card parts can keep
little hands busy on snowy winter days!

Use them to make Scrap Ornaments!
Scrap Ornaments date back to Victorian times,
when greeting cards were just coming into fashion.
Blumchen is a great resource for tinsel and other
supplies to turn your card tidbits into something special!

Make Gift Tags for next year!
Sometimes a small picture or  the saying from
inside would make the perfect gift tag!

Start an Art Reference File!
Take an old shoe box, put in some cardboard dividers,
and file greeting card pictures according to subject!
The next time your 8 year-old wants to know how to
draw a camel, you’ll be prepared!

Draw it…
Tape a picture from a greeting card into your
art journal, and try to duplicate it on the opposite page.
Or, just try drawing elements of the picture,
such as a candlestick or manger.
It really does help to see how other artists depict
simple subjects. Artists often do a lot of “copying”
as they are learning how to draw!

For a challenge, tape HALF of a picture into
your journal and attempt to finish the other side!
Or tape in a picture of a person or animal
and draw the background around them!

Make a collage using bits and pieces from old cards!
Using Modge Podge or watered-down glue,
decorate a box to hold special Christmas treasures!

Make tiny boxes out of them!
Tutorial HERE!
We had a fun girl day, many years ago,
and spent the afternoon learning to make tiny
greeting card boxes! (Hello Poe Family!)
Jo and Kate showed Nana Anne how to make them,
and we soon had oodles of precious little boxes!
We even received the one on the left for Christmas this year,
made by ladies at church! (Hi Donna & Barbara!)

There are lots of other ways to use old cards…
A quick internet search will give you plenty of ideas!

Be Creative! Imagination is a great nation!
~Nana Anne~ 

Some things are just too pretty to throw away.


Today snuck up on me.

The First Sunday of Advent.

As we were sweeping away the last crumbs of pumpkin pie, and simmering the turkey carcass to make stock, Advent came in quietly. The halls aren’t decked yet, and fighting the crowds at the malls and department store is the last thing I want to do. But, we couldn’t let this day pass without hanging up the Advent wreath.

I first heard of “Advent” when I was a twenty year-old newlywed… the churches I grew up in didn’t celebrate it. Our little church in upstate New York asked Hubby and I to light the Advent candle and read scripture on one of the Sundays in December, and that made our first Christmas together even more special. A few years later, we added an Advent wreath to our home celebration, and our girls grew up lighting candles on the Sundays that led up to Christmas. Every year we tried to find a new theme to study as we prepared our hearts for the celebration of Christ’s birth. A few years ago, we decided to try hanging the wreath, Tasha-style, so Hubby and I decided to hang it in the living room ceiling again this year. It still needs a dash of red, but at least it’s up!

This will be the first year in 25 years that it’s back
to “just us two” lighting candles!

Advent is a time of expectation… a time of preparing our hearts for the Coming Lord. For our family, celebrating Advent at home has helped us remember that there’s more to Christmas than buying and wrapping and decorating and baking. There’s much more to Christmas than a guy in a red suit and flying reindeer. There’s even more than a baby in a manger… the baby came into the world to be our Savior. The first candle of Advent symbolizes Expectation or Hope, bringing to mind the Old Testament prophecy of the coming Messiah. It also symbolizes the New Testament promise that He will come again!

Oh, come, oh, come, Emmanuel, 
And ransom captive Israel, 
That mourns in lonely exile here 
Until the Son of God appear. 
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel 
Shall come to you, O Israel!

And before we wrap up November… a little friend at church surprised me with a beautiful drawing of a turkey that she made! Emily’s grandmom printed out my Turkey-Drawing lesson, and she did a great job! Thanks for letting me share it with everyone, Emily!!!

Let’s Talk Turkey…

Back after a busy week…

…but it was nice to take a break from blogging after last month!

And just to get into a November sort of mood,
I thought it might be fun to do a quick
“how to draw a turkey” post!

Start with a few basic shapes…

Draw these rather lightly… most of these lines will either be
covered up or erased by the time your bird is finished.
It helps if you imagine the big “Pie-Shaped Wedge” as an
actual pie shape… draw the pointed end if you need to!

Then you can start roughing out the details…

Tom’s waddle is sort of lumpy and bumpy
and hangs down over his beak.
The leg that is closest to us is full at the top. Think “drumstick.”
Each foot has three toes that go forward, and one that goes back.
Start putting some directional lines for the feathers on his body,
and some guidelines for the color changes on his tail.

Next, work on his tail…

Separate the feathers with vertical lines, and
work on each tail feather individually.
In the top and bottom sections, shade in some color
with your pencil before adding feather details.
Leave the second section white, and keep the
detail lines very light in that area.
Add in some little scribbles for the grass.

Now use a thin black marker…
…my fave’s are Micron Pigma pens
found in the scrapbooking section of craft stores…
to ink in the details and define the feathers.
Erase any extra lines, and “smudge”
some of pencil lines around the edges
and in the turkey’s tail & waddle for shading.

He’ll suddenly come to life!

Have fun… and don’t stress  if your first
attempt doesn’t turn out so great…


It really does make perfect.

(And now that I’m looking at this turkey on
my blog, I can see a mistake… I missed a
small section of his body under his
wing in the inking process!
See, we all need to keep practicing!)

P.S. If you send me your turkey drawings,
I’ll post them on the blog this month!