Posts filed in: Painting

Winter Warming

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Oh, the days of January, I love them so. I love that the weather is cold, the garden is sleeping, the skies are gray. I love that. I love hibernating, and flannel sheets, and flannel nightgowns, and hot tea, and pretty tea mugs. I love yarn, and knitting, and television at night, and dark. I'm tired, and getting over my cold, and wanting to go slow, and wanting to go upstairs early. The house is frowsy and soft. I'm gearing up to Marie-Kondo everything in sight, but not right now. No, not right now. Right now everything is a bit droopy, and needs fresh paint, and to be vacuumed for hours. I sit and make lists, stab at the taxes, pick up take-out Indian food, read picture book after picture book after picture book at bedtime, and listen to a thousand six-year-old hopes and fears. Her warm body beside mine, we listen to the wind and rain, and talk about going to Great Wolf Lodge someday, where they have an indoor water park, and water buckets falling on your head, and pool after pool after pool of warm water. I'm in. Take me there. Let's go now.

We went to a conference with Mimi's teacher the other day and it's like . . . I could just sit there and talk about my kid all. day. long. I love her two teachers and I love her school, and love how she is thriving there. I don't love the commute, but I'm trying to learn to like it. It's long, and can be ugly if I take the busy way, which I usually don't, and then it's just plain long and slow. I've been listening to The Secret Garden audio-book (read by Finola Hughes) while I drive, but it's almost over. I think I really need to get into podcasts. I don't even know what I want in a podcast, honestly. I'm not sure where to start. And can you download them so you don't have to use data on your phone while you're listening? Or . . . how does that even work? I don't seem to know anything about anything that everyone else knows lately. Thank you in advance.

I've been thinking and working a lot on the Secret Garden projects and the bath boxes that will go with them. What I think we will do is offer two different craft projects -- one is an embroidery project (not cross stitch, just regular free embroidery, of the robin, and the key), and one is a knitting project. The embroidery project is small, about 5" in diameter and will fit and be framed in a 6" hoop (which will be included with the kit). The knitting project will include a pattern for a pair of simple handwarmers decorated with with duplicate stitch, and will include hand-dyed fingering-weight yarn for the main color of the handwarmers and also all of the small amounts of yarn you will use to duplicate-stitch the designs on top. Then, if you'd like, each project can come with the Secret Garden–inspired bath box, which will include a bar of our handmade cold-process soap, a lotion bar, a really pretty apothecary jar of bath soak, a wax sachet, and a little candle.

You may order either of the kits with or without a bath box, or you may order just the bath box. We are going to take pre-orders for all of this in the next couple of weeks, and then it will take at least six weeks for us to ship everything. It will take this long because we don't know how many orders for everything we will get and we want to make sure we can include everyone who wants any of these items. So, since the soap takes six entire weeks to cure, we will continue to make soap almost every day in anticipation of orders. We also need to order the hoops I think I want to use for the framing of the embroidery project from Europe, and they have a long turn-around time (also about six weeks after ordering). So that puts us shipping around the beginning of April, and if you've read The Secret Garden, doesn't that seem kind of like the perfect time for this? I definitely will put together a post that shows you my inspiration for all the things we're working on for this, like I did for the advent calendar. I love making those collages so much and will start working on one later this week. I can't wait.

I've watched a few of the Tidying Up episodes on Netflix. I honestly get choked up every time they thank the house. It's weirdly emotional. I would've never thought to do that but it feels very poignant. It's a really beautiful moment in the episodes, I think. I also watched the documentary Three Identical Strangers last night and that was so incredibly intense. Did anyone else see it? Man. I don't even know what to say about that. As an adoptive parent, especially, it chilled me to the bone to think that they separated those babies. Unrelated, my sister Julie got me the British TV Field Guide for my birthday and I am psyched. I should do a run-down of my favorite British TV shows (mostly mysteries and thrillers) this past year. I love Shetland, Vera, Happy Valley (OH MY WORD crazy intense), Last Tango in Halifax, No Offense, Striking Out, Acceptable Risk, and Keeping Faith. Should I tell you about those or do you already know them?

I took that moon photo during the Super Blood Wolf Moon lunar eclipse! Josh was over and he and Andy were gonna go out to the garage to play video games; they went out on the back porch and flipped out because the eclipse just happened to be almost total at that moment and we had an awesome view of it from the porch. I grabbed my tripod and put it on the back table and got a few photos of the moon right before the clouds moved in. So that's almost total eclipse right there. It was just so totally cool to see that. I'm so glad they just happened to be going outside at that moment or we would've missed it!

The sweet winter field painting is the print I bought from Jo Grundy and had framed a few years ago, and I love it so much. And that beautiful watercolor of Amelia riding the rabbit? The sweetest gift from the most lovely Emily Winfield Martin several years ago. I absolutely treasure it, and it hangs over Mimi's bed.

Frost Fields

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Oh, hello! How are you? I've been doing almost nothing but making dolls, doll dresses, doll stockings, doll capes, doll hair, doll sweaters, doll blouses, doll skirts, doll collars, and doll hats, and then remaking them trying to get them how I want them. It is so much fun. I have so many ideas. I'm thinking about all the details quite a lot. I dream about them at night and wake up with potential solutions in the morning. Then I try to work them out that night. Yesterday we forgot Amelia's ballet slippers and had to borrow some from the ballet mistress. She asked me what size slippers Amelia wore. I told her I wasn't sure, but said I knew what size my doll's feet were (16 sts around on size US5's in sport weight yarn). Everyone in the foyer laughed nervously. The teacher turned and asked Amelia. Amelia said she was size 11. I knew that!!! Sheepish.

Did you have a nice Thanksgiving weekend here in the U.S.? We sure did. My family came and squeezed around our table and it was great. My sister Susie stayed on afterwards and made me laugh for hours with her work stories. Me, in nightgown, falling asleep: "Good lord, this story is taking forever!" Her: "Dude, I told you, I work 12-hour shifts! A lot of stuff happens!!!" On Friday I hung my two new prints that I got for my birthday last year from the English artist Jo Grundy. I had wanted these forever and I am so glad that I got them (for Andy to give to me [wink]). They inspired my mantel decoration this year, which is a frosty-winter-fields theme. Andy worked on Saturday and Amelia and I went out to Craft Warehouse and got some new little things: the lighted willow garland and a couple of little resin birds and her absolute favorite, the snowy owl. Believe it or not, I had almost everything else already, and a lot of it came from Craft Warehouse (a local indie craft store here in the Portland area) over the past few years. The little wooden plinths and the woolly trees and the metal houses (not sure where those were from, actually) and the cottonwood wreath I already had. Andy's grandfather carved the tall Santa many years ago. We bought a spray of fake frosted fern leaves and cut them off and scattered them around, along with a couple of little bottlebrush trees and juniper sprigs. The teapot was from Goodwill for $3. The snowflake garland I've had for years and years, and the stockings are from Etsy. We couldn't find Amelia's bunny stocking but I think it's in with the Christmas ornaments; we're getting our tree this weekend and I'm sure we'll find it when we open those boxes. Speaking of, Andy brought up everything seasonally related from the basement — Christmas stuff, other fake-foliage stuff for spring and fall that makes Andy insane, wreathes and such. We went through it all on Sunday and that was sort of an exhausting exercise. At some point while Andy was still cleaning I tried to pluck Amelia from the fray and took a bath while she played on the side of the tub. This is one of our favorite winter activities. I love winter baths and I never cease to give thanks for them, and for hot water. Afterwards, when everything in the living room was clean and pretty, Andy put on carols and made us some hot chocolate and it felt like the perfect start to this lovely (my favorite) season. Winter is here. I wish you peace and warmth and kind shelter and love in the days ahead. XOX

Color Kittens

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Oh, Mommy is tired. I've yawned about fifty times today. Once I start I can't seem to stop. Andy and Amelia are sitting on his skateboard and riding around the dining room. The house is covered in toys and books and blankets (so that makes it a bit difficult). The rain whips and the wind is whistling outside — last night, lightning and thunder! I missed them, because I was sleeping at 9:15 p.m. But still: stormy few days here, lots of inside stuff, very small house. The weather finally turned, and we have rain and rumpus.

I made a little painting on Sunday morning. Later we all went to the art supply store to get more paints and stickers and stuff. When I was finished with the little painting (which includes stickers:) I was excited because I thought it reminded me a lot of The Color Kittens, which we read almost every night. It's funny how these little books and their characters become such a part of your life. Our days and nights have a lot of books in them. They don't get photographed that much but they should, because I so don't want to forget them in the context of our sticker-covered, draw-on-your-face, pink-painted, Golden Book–filled days. I just don't ever have a camera when we're snuggled. "'Oh Angelina,'" I read, with great mama-drama, "'your dancing is nothing but a — '" "Nuisance!" yells delighted Amelia, not really able to pronounce the word, and not really knowing what it means, but maybe she does. Same with "arabesque." I'm amazed at the words it appears she understands. There are others. I need to think of them. I need to write this stuff down, and take some pictures of our little books. They're so good. I love these days.

I make the WORST chocolate chip cookies. Recipe straight off the bag, and they suck in a different way every single time, time after time, year after year. I make pretty decent broccoli and bow ties. But who can't do that. That's all Ina. Maybe I should see if she has a chocolate-chip cookie recipe. I can't imagine she does not.

Suddenly obsessed with making a toy boat we can actually float on the casting pond this summer, and having a portrait painted of Amelia (any recommendations, let me know?). Isn't it weird how you just get these ideas all of a sudden and then they're all you can think of, when you're daydreaming? When you have time to think of these things? I feel like I have a different idea about something or other every week.

Her squishy-yummy pink cardigan is here. :)

Pinky Paint

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Our pink painting, January 27, 2015. :)

Morning, Afternoon, Night

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At some point I do just sort of give up on snow.  The "fine, be that way" moment. The FBTW moment happened sometime yesterday afternoon. On our walk to the bakery, there were bulbs already pushing up through the soil outside. I brought home yellow daffodils from the market. The pale sun filtered through the dirt-spattered windows. I tossed the rest of the stray Christmas decorations (mostly those related to snowflakes) in a box. And I could see spring, which in our yard really does start to happen in February, just beyond the blurry margins of dead leaves, winter mud, and the brown and sort of weird, soupy green that the days have been, here in Oregon, in the winter. In seventeen years here, it's been the driest, sunniest winter I can remember. And, I will admit, I have found things to love about that. Because at least there are Alaska shows. I loved Esther's comment: "I think I can explain the Alaska obsession. You have Starved-for-Snow-itis. It's kind of like cabin fever, only in reverse." Oh yes, yes. Cabin fever in reverse! HA!

So, we have a Roomba. I asked for it for my birthday. I guess I'm old now. It's pretty awesome. It's like a reverse-shedding pet that doesn't really respond when you cheer it on. "Come on, Roomba! You can do it!" as it tries dumbly to find its way out from under the small side table. He whirrs and spins back and forth, banging into stuff around the room. He sends up a little victory song when he finds his way back to his dock, and so do we: "Good boy, Roomba!" Clapping. When emptied, he is filled, and I mean FILLED, with dirt (dog hair). And he has been filled pretty much every single subsequent time he's finished a room. And our carpets and floors are regularly vacuumed with the big vacuum. And dry-mopped with the pants of a toddler. The first time he was emptied I was astonished and horrified. Now he runs, almost all the time, around the house all day. He's very loud. He doesn't do stairs. No one is afraid of him anymore (both puppers and the nipper cried the first time he was let loose). His industrious motor is white noise in the background of our day.

I wish I had counted how many clementines were eaten here this winter. I save the peels and run them through the garbage disposal, which I read helps keep it clean. I think the clementine season is almost over. Amelia, if she knew that, would be very sad. I've never seen anyone eat tiny oranges so quickly. I cut them into small pieces and she literally picks them up as fast as I can cut them. I've eaten my share, as well. Have we gone through five or six crates, just the two of us? No scurvy here. That's nice. She's showing me, above, how she puts food "in her mouth" instead of throwing it on the floor, for the dog. Ahem.

Winter Olympics coming. Excited. I have my project picked out this time — the crewel embroidery that always reminds me of the view from Crown Point that I got several years ago that I've not started. I got something new for over the myrtlewood. It's a Grandma Moses reproduction (obviously) of a painting called "A Beautiful World." The quality isn't that great, because it's enlarged so much, I assume, but from afar I like it. I started getting into these primitive landscapes last year. I have another one over my dresser by Edward Hicks called "David Leedom Farm." I think I might get a book about them. I've always loved those aerial view landscapes of villages and farms and little buildings and bridges and rivers and trees. 

Go Polina Edmunds!!! I watched her at Nationals on TV last weekend and she was just completely enchanting.

My word. The sun is shining again. This is very confusing. !!!

Are you reading The Goldfinch? I can't put it down. Don't tell me what happens. I have an idea but I don't even want to talk about it.

This and That

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Thank you so much for all of your kind words about the new ornament collection. Thank you, thank you! I'm very excited that you like them. I will put them on sale tomorrow morning, Thursday, October 3. Just come here to the blog and I'll have all of the photos and links and information right here.

I've been tucked in the office for the past few days, really digging into this project that, up until now, Greta has spearheaded. It feels really good to be back in the office with the girls (we have backup this week, too!), listening to Pandora, soaking up the occasional sunshine coming in through the skylights, getting soaked by the almost-constant rain when we take the recycling out, getting frequent visits from Amelia as her dad or her grandma bring her in to say hello, eating breakfast at my desk, singing every word to "Wagon Wheel," Andy pulling late nights listening to old Willie Nelson concerts assembling Ice Skating Afternoon kits and texting me (upstairs in bed knitting) frequently about how much fun he was having (not kidding — hilarious), and also texting me a long list of ways we could improve the ergonomic correctness and general efficiency of our system. Ha! Kinda reminded me of the old days, when he and I did everything ourselves. I don't think things have changed that much, really. We just do different things now, and we have Amelia here, who makes everything wonderful. I had to re-photograph all of the kit photos for each collection yesterday, and spent a little bit of time with each ornament, remembering how each of them came about over the years. I really love them. They have been a pretty big part of our lives these past six years, actually.

Over the weekend, it seriously poured. Wind, rain, wind, rain. We had a great, sopping-wet time despite it at the flock and fiber festival with Amelia's birthgrandparents. Ten minutes after we got back home the power went out because of the storm, and was out most of Saturday afternoon, until early evening. It was kind of nice not to be able to work, especially because Andy was home, too. I took a long candlelit bath, and Meems came in with me at the end. The girl loves water and I love playing in the water with her. I got to sit on the sofa-bed and read Vanity Fair (the magazine, not the book) while she napped beside me. When the power came back on on Sunday, Andy went to work and Amelia and I cooked. Butternut squash macaroni and cheese (I kinda made it up), black bean soup, no-knead bread. Our friend Sarah came for lunch on Monday. I bought a reproduction of a painting by Edward Hicks called David Leedom Farm, 1849. I love it. It's over my dresser. At night I've been working on the little sweater coat I've started for Amelia. I'm planning to line it with flannel. The pantry is installed and finished and I literally haven't had any time to stock it. Big preparations are underway for Amelia's birthday party. I really just can't believe it's been a year. Sweetest love, a whole year.

***To those that have asked about the book with the lamby pattern, it is I Love Patchwork by Rashida Coleman-Hale. I'll tell you more about my lamb after I give it to Miss Mimilove.

Kinda Like These

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"Dutch Still Life with Lemons and Engagement Calendar"
Paul Wonner

"Be obscure clearly! Be wild of tongue in a way we can understand!"
Maira Kalman, from the book Elements of Style

"Still Life with Plums and White Pitcher"
Hank Helmantel

Wayne Thiebaud

"Still Life with Three Eggs and Four Pears"
Braldt Bralds

The perspectives on these aren't all from above, but it is kinda interesting that in all of these ones that I like there is a big blank wall. I love these. Especially the kitterses.

New Art for the Rearrangement

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"Spring at the White House Farm" by Billy Jacobs

I just got this print at a cute little store here in Portland (Sellwood) called American at Heart. It's going to go in this little space right above the TV inside the "entertainment center" (I always think that is such a hilarious name for this piece of furniture. I picture it like, you open a drawer — someone pops out singing showtunes! Behind the cabinet door — a clown juggling apples! That's entertainment!). Anyway, I have always really liked paintings like this, and the sheep in this one enchanted me. I actually saw this on Tuesday and couldn't get it out of my mind for the past couple of days, and went back and got it today. The sky in the painting looks EXACTLY like the sky here in P-town looks today. Someone told me they are saying snow for us here, maybe, sometime next week? Oh please oh please!

Thank you for all of the sweater-naming suggestions!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! There are too many good ones. I don't know what to pick. Too many good ones! Maybe we'll have a vote. I'll try to find one of those vote-taking widgets. The sweater is still sopping wet, so it'll definitely be a few more days before button-time. It seems that it didn't dry at all in the past day. The weather yesterday was stormy stormy stormy. Clover froke. The heat in the house was off because there is tile being set in the bathroom, and the tile saw is outside, so the back door is open most of the time and the wind was whistling. Cold cold cold. Clover Meadow = nervous and cold and pleading for things to go back to how they used to be. Before her sofa went from being over here to over there. Before her pillows went from being over here to over there. Before wind and rain. Before, when everything was perfect. Yesterday Miss Jenny sent me a link to the most hilarious blog post ever — Allie at Hyperbole and a Half just moved, and the dogs . . . oh man, you just have to see how funny this girl is.

Speaking of funny, did anybody see that Martha Stewart Thanksgiving special that's been on, where she shows the bloopers at the end and drops the turkey on the floor and then says, "Oooops." I rewound that about five times and laughed so hard. The way she drops it just cracks me up.

Sort of.

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So, you know how when yesterday I said that I did the face and completely ruined the painting and then you said no, Alicia, you're just being hard on yourself and I bet it isn't that bad and how bad could it be, and I was like no, really, it's really really really not good you guys













people, I tried to tell you.






It did not go well.






Things I Didn't Realize About Painting:

  1. Acrylic paints dry darker than how they appear on the palette.
  2. Mixing each shade from scratch using white, red, yellow, blue, green, black, and Burnt Sienna is HARD when it comes to skin tones (because each shade you mix dries out before you can use it as the base for the next tone).
  3. Starting with the darkest color and working in was a bad idea.
  4. Especially if the darkest color was maroonish-gray.

After I let out a horrified scream that deafened the dog and caused every cat in the house to jump three feet straight up into the air, I took the painting and went down the street to my favorite little art supply store, Muse. After we all stopped giggling uncomfortably at how scary my painting was, the guys there were SO nice to give me a crash course in Portrait Painting 101 stuff and told me important things like there is a warm side of the face and a cool side (obviously depending on the where the light is falling).


I wound up buying a tube of paint that was called Toning Pinkish Gray or Toning Grayish Pink — basically, a very pale skin tone, and then I mixed everything using that and a little Burnt Siena for the warm a little Ultramarine for the cool. Then I turned the painting upside down, like you guys said, so that I was just looking at shapes of colors and not someone-I-love's face (which I desperately wanted to get "right," etc.).

So this was the second try:


Better. Humanish. I was extremely relieved!!! I called my friend and told her. I don't know what it is about painting that makes me want to talk on the phone. Add that to the list of things I did not know about painting!

I set it about ten feet away from me and looked at it. Even at viewing distance, there was still a little too much contrast. I felt confident, though. I felt like I could do it without freaking. I felt like I wouldn't have to start completely over, I could just tweak. So I replaced one color — I think it was the second lightest — with one that was both a little darker and a little warmer and came up with:


What do you think? Stand back from it a bit and see.

I still have to do the daisy, and the magenta, and the t-shirt. But I think this is sort of going in the right direction now, don't you?

About Alicia Paulson


My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at




Since August of 2011 I've been using a Canon EOS 60D with an EF 18-200mm kit lens and an EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro lens.