July 19, 2014

DIY | Bubble Art


As promised, today I'm going to show you how I created the DIY gallery wall art. It's DIY Bubble Art! I'm so excited to share this project with you. It's such a fun DIY and looks great when you group them together in a gallery display. 

As an artist, I'm always looking for unique ways to create art. My love for decorating home also motivates me to create the types of art I want to decorate my home with. When I come up with a simple art project that has a big impact and can be easily recreated, I get really excited. This is one of the ways I can share what I'm good at with others.

The inspiration for this project came from the time my boys and I painted together with bubbles. I remember it made such cool geometric shapes on paper. How I could translate that into artwork that's more refined and tasteful? 

My answer was to restrict the color palette and add shading to create some drama. 

But there's no right way to do this project and I can only give you a general guideline. So feel free to make some changes, add more colors (make them colorful!), get creative and have fun! My only suggestion is to try different ways - let it be the strength of paint or color combinations - and see if you can achieve the look that suits your personality and home decor.

Without further adieu, let's get started!

* * *
Things you'll need:
- Paper
- Dish detergent
- Plastic cup or container of your choice
- Plastic straw 
- Watercolor paint of your choice 
- Water
- Charcoal pencil (optional)  
- Paint brush to mix the paint and test the color 

Paper: I used 9 x 12 in. heavy weight drawing paper for a mat frame with an 8 x 10 in. opening, just because that's the only paper I had at hand. I thought this paper might be too thin for the project, but it worked just fine. You might want to experiment with different types of paper you have and see what works best for you. 

Container: I used a takeout food container for this project. You can use any type of plastic cup or container as long as you can blow bubbles in it. It may be fun to mix different sizes of containers to create various designs.

Watercolor Paint: I used cotman's ivory black for the black color and cadmiun red pale hue for an accent (red dots). But again, you can use any colors that suit your style and decor.

1. Dissolve the black paint in water. Test the mixture on paper and adjust the amount of paint until you reach the desired strength. I ended up using a lot more paint than I thought I would need, about a third of an 8ml tube to the water about one-third or less of the container. You want to have a dark, black ink like consistency or bubbles won't stain the paper.

2. Add detergent to water-paint mixture and blow bubbles. (warning: if you use a shallow container like I did, you might want to blow gently to avoid splatter.) 

3. Gently lay your paper over the bubbles.

4. Let the paper sit until the paint starts to seep through the paper. This creates a darker and more defined effect. I probably waited about 30 seconds to one minute before gently removing the paper. If you want a darker effect, you can always add more paint here.

This is how the back side looks like with the paint is seeping through the paper. 

And this is how the painted (front) side looks like. 

5.Get creative and design. I made more than 10 different designs and chose four best ones to be framed.

6. Once paint is dry, add some shading using a charcoal pencil (optional). The more contrast you create, the more dramatic your art will be. I simply traced the already darker areas with the pencil without adding too much pressure. You can always start with a lighter touch and make it darker as you go.

7. Add finishing touches (optional). I added a red dot to each piece to give it a focal point and an unexpected touch. I simply applied the paint directly from the tube to the paper. Allow the paint to completely dry and it will be ready to be framed. 

 * * *
Here are the close-ups of the framed art. They are similar yet uniquely different, which makes them perfect for a gallery wall like this. I also painted the mats with house paint, Iron Mountain by Benjamin Moore. Yes, I painted the mats with house paint using a roller. They look pretty good though, don't they? 

no. 1

no. 2

no. 3

no. 4

Grouped together.

With a simple vignette.

I'm loving the red dots. What do you think?

Have a wonderful weekend! 

July 16, 2014


I love blue hydrangeas. 

Every year, I tell Steve (my husband) I will turn our pink hydrangea bushes into beautiful shades of blue, but that hasn't happened yet. They are pink again this year. 

I guess pink isn't that bad, after all. I'm growing to like them more.
* * *
I baked Ina Garten's brownies, and these are hands down the best brownies ever! I'm making another batch for a family picnic today. Mmmm.

* * *
I made this DIY art and turned it into a gallery wall. 

I will show you how I made them when I come back later this week.

What have you been up to lately?

July 13, 2014

What I'm learning this summer

My five-year-old son has been home for almost three weeks now. It's been nice to have him around for the summer and my youngest son loves having someone to play with besides his mom. 

I just forgot how busy it is to spend an entire day with these two little guys. They would be playing together for one moment, and then fighting with each other in the next. We never have a dull moment around here.

Even though my hope for the lazy days quickly turned into the crazy days, I'm still enjoying the easiness of summer. I think we're finally moving into this new rhythm - a more relaxed 'go with the flow' approach with no particular expectations. 

Today, I wanted to share a few things I've learned so far this summer.

1. I can't go without decorating our home.
I ran out of our decorating budget a while ago and had to take a little break from decorating. Well, I've missed it very much. I realized for the first time I simply can't go without decorating.

2. You'll eventually find a perfect paint color, only if you don't settle for something less.
I came across this medium-dark gray paint, and I instantly fell in love with the richness of its color. 

I'm so glad I didn't settle for the paint color I wasn't a 100% happy with. I just finished the first coat and it already looks amazing. Can you tell which room I'm working on? 

3. Relaxing on a hammock is the best way to spend a summer afternoon.  
While watching the boys play outside, I try to find my inner peace lying on this hammock, 

and savor the beautiful nature this season offers. 

If the boys are preoccupied with each other, I get to enjoy my favorite book for a few minutes. 

This is what I am re-reading right now. A perfect book to read on a hammock.

The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. To dig for treasures shows not only impatience and greed, but lack of faith. Patience, patience, patience, is what the sea teaches. Patience and faith. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach - waiting for a gift from the sea. 
Gift from The Sea
by Anne Morrow Lindbergh
4. Homemade lemonade is my favorite summer drink. 
We've been making lemonade almost every day this summer. I like this recipe for regular lemonade. I've also tried this jalapeno lemonade and I found the hint of spiciness quite refreshing on a hot summer day. 

5. I literally live in our kitchen.  
Have you read a book, Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto? I think I'm a lot like that main character. I'd be happy just spending the entire day in our kitchen, cooking or scrubbing down the counters. For me, the kitchen is the place of comfort and happiness, and I spend a great deal of time during the day in the kitchen (weird?). There has been a lot of cooking and baking happening in our kitchen this summer and that simply makes me happy.

We made Cinnabunnies!

6. My favorite ratio for strawberry rhubarb pie filling is strawberry 3: rhubarb 4.  
I prefer savory over sweet, but I do enjoy freshly baked fruit pies. I use 3 cups of diced strawberries and 4 cups of rhubarb for an 9 inch pie. This creates the perfect balance of tart and sweet for my taste. And if someone likes it sweeter, I would just add a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side. The flavors from roasted rhubarb and vanilla ice cream complement each other beautifully.

What about you? What have you learned so far this summer?

July 1, 2014

Let Your Ordinary Gift Shine + New Art | Captivating no. 2

I recently had a chance to talk with one of the moms from my son's school.

I've always felt somewhat inadequate as a mom, and she immediately picked up my insecurity about how I parent. She gently assured me I was doing a great job with my boys and encouraged me to give myself credit because I work so hard for it. She was friendly, warm, and glowing with confidence. I was drawn to her charisma right away and absorbed her wisdom like a plant thirsting for water. 

But then, something unexpected happened. As soon as our conversation turned to what we do for a living, her confidence shrank to the size of a golf ball. "Oh," she said in a trembling voice, "I'm just a stay-at-home mom." 

I'm just a stay-at-home mom. 

This mother with an incredible ability to encourage fellow parents didn't seem to acknowledge what an extraordinary gift she has.

I wonder sometimes our gift may not feel like a gift at all, because it's buried within our ordinary days. Perhaps you don't see it as a gift because it doesn't seem important. Or even though you know you have something special, you're not sure if you're good enough.

But it's not up to you to decide if you're good enough or not. Because someone who needs your gift can spot it from a mile away, like finding a tiny piece of diamond catching the sun in the midst of desert.

You can't hide it from us - your story, your gift.

Your helping hands, your smiles, your art, your songs, your writing, your warm hugs, your ability to guide and teach...

If there's one person out there who needs to hear your story, it is good enough.

There are mornings I would wake up and wonder if I should stop sharing what I create on this blog. Because some days, I just feel inadequate and what I can offer seems insignificant. 

But it's not up to me to decide if my gift is good enough to share. 

What you may consider humble could be an extraordinary gift to someone who needs it. 

Just like this mother's words changed the way I view motherhood, we all have an extraordinary gift to share only if we let it shine. 

I'm forever grateful she generously shared her gift of encouragement with me.

Captivating no. 2: Ink pen, watercolor, charcoal, soft pastel

Would you share your gift with us, your extraordinary gift hidden in the ordinary? 

Would you let it shine?

June 17, 2014

New Art | Captivating no. 1

I've been posting less this month. 

As the school year quickly winds down and with my husband's real estate business rapidly growing, there have been some changes in our routine.

I simply have less time to work on my projects.

But I managed to take some time for art today. Art always makes me feel centered. After several hours of immersing myself in creativity, I now feel refreshed. 

I'm thrilled how it turned out and couldn't wait to share it with you.

I started with a pencil drawing, and followed with a wash.

Then I took out my medium, dark, and white charcoal pencils and added some more shading and details.

Captivating no. 1: Ink pen, watercolor, charcoal on paper.

June 13, 2014

What is your legacy?

I have an aunt, whom I've never met. 

She died when she was 11, after suffering from Leukemia for several years. 

Her life ended too early, without having a chance to blossom into the person she could possibly be. 

Over the course of a few years, my aunt went through one treatment after another to fight her cancer. She was finally doing better, or at least it appeared that way, after trying a new medication imported from America. My grandparents had to pay for it out of their own pocket since their insurance didn't cover the cost. It was during the post WWII era, and the entire Japanese society was still poor at the time, including my grandparents. 

My grandparents weren't ready to let go of their daughter. 
They were willing to do anything to give her a chance to live. 

"One year,"
the doctor said.
"If she stays clear for one year with this new medication, I'd say the cancer is in remission."

My grandparents believed the doctor's words, and invested their fortune into this drug that was supposed to bring a cure. 

"Please dear God, or whatever it is out there,"
they prayed,
"please let this work. Please give our daughter a chance to live!"

Despite their constant prayers, her cancer suddenly took an unexpected turn for the worse. My aunt's life came to an abrupt end without giving her family enough time to process what they had to let go. 

It was a tragic loss for our family. My mother, who is a big sister to my aunt, still refuses to mention her name after fifty years. Even as a child, I understood the unspoken agreement of not going to this vulnerable place. For my mom, it's been the scar that should never be touched. 

My grandmother, on the other hand, brought her beloved daughter's memories back to life by sharing her stories with me.

My aunt Reiko was a creative spirit, full of life, who didn't stop drawing on a sketchbook even when she was ill, dying from cancer. She drew cartoons and created elaborate stories about friendships. The friendships she probably yearned to have herself outside of the hospital ward. 

Even though we've never met face to face, I'd always felt my aunt's presence throughout my childhood. I admired her drawings, played with a doll that was once hers, and saddened by the stories of how she courageously fought with cancer and lost her battle in the end.  

Beyond the time and space, my aunt have shared her gift of drawing and crafting stories with me through my grandmother's stories. My grandmother's gift of storytelling has enriched my life beyond words.

Their stories now slowly merge into mine, and their legacy will continue to live through me. 

I believe we are here to serve specific purposes in our lives. You create your legacy by generously sharing your gift with others. Your legacy may not be something monumental that changes the entire world or stand the test of time over a century. But we are here to make a difference, no matter how big or small it is.

The meaning of life is to find your gift.
The purpose of life is to give it away.
                                         - Pablo Picasso

I wonder what kind of legacy I'm going to leave behind. Just like my aunt and grandmother infused their love for art and storytelling into me, I know I will make a difference in someone's life when I share my gift. 
We are the threads.
Together, we weave a beautiful piece of tapestry.

I am becoming the person I'm designed to be, one step at a time. 

What is your gift you're going to share with the world?

What kind of legacy are you going to leave behind? 

June 3, 2014

Because a feather makes everything better

Ever since I did this DIY art & frame project, I've been quite obsessed with feathers and washi tape. I think they are such a cute addition to any decor or art project. 

So, I couldn't help but using them in my new art project. I think they make the piece. What do you think? 

Wishing upon a star: 

Wishing upon a star: Acrylic, oil-based paint pen, feathers, washi tape on paper.

Mary the DIY Resin Bust is the model for the profile drawn in the artwork. 

Mary The DIY Resin Bust

I also added a hawk feather underneath the framed art in our kitchen. My two year old found this feather while playing in his grandparents' backyard. 

Isn't it pretty adorned with blue polka dot washi tape? Now we can admire this beauty every day while sitting at our kitchen table.

I enjoy bringing natural elements into our home because bringing a little bit of the outdoors instantly relaxes a space.

Washi tape also has endless possibilities. Here are some great ideas I found around the web. 

Casa Washi Tapes for Home Decor by Design*Sponge
Washi Tape Cards by Su Wolf
Washi Tape Banner by a golden afternoon

Do you use feathers or washi tape for your creative projects?  

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