Art Inspration: Chinese Lantern Festival

Amphitheater pavilion lined with Chinese lanterns hanging from the ceiling

As the winter holidays approach, I always get swept up in the chaos of all of my to-do lists, so it’s nice whenever I have the opportunity to take my energy level down a notch or two. One such opportunity arose this week, in the form of a stroll through a Chinese Lantern Festival.
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Hello, Friends, Halloween’s Approachin’

Halloween is my favorite of the end-of-the-year (American) holidays. Christmas jingles its way to a close second place, but nothing beats getting to dress up any crazy way you want and have it be socially acceptable to do so (this excludes, of course, the year I dressed up as an elf to my dad’s Santa Claus to help him make a few gift drops during Christmas Eve…but I digress).

As the countdown to All Hallow’s Eve continues, this quick note seeks to wish you well. Hopefully, like me, you’re also starting to feel the spooky magic. If not, might I suggest carving a pumpkin or two this week? It’ll do wonders for the kid inside you! Here are mine:

carved pumpkin displaying toothy mischievous grin

carved pumpkin displaying silhoutte of witch mixing her cauldron

Four Seasons: A Social Painting Experience

For awhile, I’d been meaning to try out a social painting experience, but when searching the calendars of the local art studios offering that type of service, I was always deterred because the more whimsical-type paintings always seemed to be offered during a weekday (when I am at work). A social painting experience can manifest in several ways, from a group of people replicating the same painting on each of their own canvases, to each member of a group painting an aspect of a larger image so that when placed together, the sum of the canvases produces a lovely work of art.

As it turns out, I had a stroke of scheduling luck this month and jumped on Four Seasons, an individual replication. It’s a pretty, vivid painting that was a little challenging to create, but I had a lot of fun making it.

  1. We started by blending bright colors across the canvas. I learned how to use a combination of white paint and water to blur the boundary between colors. I later learned that blending paint in such a way is a challenge for even the most experienced artist.
    A rainbow of colors spreading across the canvas
  2. The next step was to use muted hues to create spots. I was instructed that when I felt there were enough spots, I was to add even more. To give them a glow, I gave about two-thirds of them a white highlight. Though larger than dust particles, these spots give the illusion of illuminated pixie dust or perhaps luminous baubles.
    A variety of dots in different colors and sizes sprinkled evenly over the rainbow blending
  3. The next step was to outline a tree – the subject of this piece. A confident downward stroke produced the trunk, followed by outward strokes for the five branches. Even moreso than the spot baubles, the tree silhouette creates an air of whimsy with it’s gently bowing branches — if I hadn’t been careful it could have easily become a gnarled, naked, branchy mess.
    Single black lines outlining the shape of the tree
  4. The last step was to build the tree’s form. Layer upon layer, slightly widening it with each pass, I saw my tree emerge as though going through seasons of growth. I ended with white highlights for depth.
    Completed painting

If you ever have a chance to social paint, give it a go, you might be surprised at how well your artwork turns out!

Signs of Summer

So, last week, I shared my dad’s Bluebird of Happiness origami shadow box request; this week I’ll share my mom’s request.

In an effort to upcycle when the opportunity presents itself, I saw potential in an old frame I had found awhile back in my mom’s attic, but wasn’t sure what to do with it early on. It’s not a traditional shadow box, but it does have depth to it, which made it a perfect home for her request.

Shortly after having had knee surgery, she asked for a butterfly and flowers. Maybe she loves butterflies or maybe it was a way to see nature from her station on the couch, where she spent some days as she healed.

wide frame
Origami butterfly and flowers

Blue Bird of Happiness

A few months back, I made a series of origami shadow boxes to hang on my office wall. Since then, I’ve had a handful of requests from people wanting to have an origami shadow box of their own. They’re fun to make, and I enjoy the chance to share this craft with others – so I happily oblige each request.

Here’s one I made for my father. He requested it after his first winter “snowbird” experience — which brought him to the southern United States, far from the frigid midwest for the winter. He was happy for a number of reasons and asked for an origami bluebird of happiness.

Origami bird sits in a small shadow box. small letters above it spell out happiness
Bluebird of Happiness (origami shadow box)

Hey, Good Lookin’! Diedee Designs Just had a Makeover

Deidee Designs just matured in the era of Windows metro, with its boxy, bright buttons and simple font, it’s a celebration of minimalism in a very chaotic world!

So corny. But true!

If you have a moment, please visit; take in the new look; and watch my intro video. It’s shameless self-promotion, but I think it’s pretty OK for a first-ever demo reel. It was a challenge finding a home for my screencast samples among all of the digital art, games, and animation, but I managed to shoehorn it in and if I say so myself, it looks mighty nice on the new homepage.


~ Surfing the Yuletide toward a New Holiday Animation

If you’re in the US, I hope your Thanksgiving went well! I’m still recovering from my trip – which turned out to be pretty great after the plane landed. My co-presenter and I were asked to host a round-table discussion after our presentation, so that was a cool experience, and the view from my hotel room was amazing.

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So, what’s next?

Last year, at around this time, I started work on a simply-animated holiday greeting based on a short story my dad had written many years ago. I was fortunate to have a few volunteers in my family members and friends as the voice talent for the short, and in the time since the video was posted, I’ve been asked a few times whether or not there’d be another holiday short for this year.

It was a question I fully expected.

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