How To: Coloring Book Artwork

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Completed "Coloring Book" Van Gogh

I've been in a bit of an intense cleaning phase lately, where I've been trying to complete all those overdue things on my to do list (dry cleaning, closet organization, etc). I've had a poster of Van Gogh's "Vase with 12 Sunflowers" hanging on my bedroom wall, that I've been meaning to upgrade for awhile. The above image is the result of attempt #1 (attempt #2 might involve just buying a nicer frame, or a nicer-formatted print of the same artwork; I have a thing for Van Gogh and his flowers).
Van Gogh Art/Poster - Before Van Gogh Art/Poster - After

Part way through my project, I realized my painting skillz are more akin to the cheesy country style, than to Van Gogh. To prevent my hardwork from ending up in the Museum of Bad Art (MOBA), I decided to only partially finish "coloring in" my initial drawing. I am leaving the rest of the painting in coloring book style. There's a trend in fabric design for "paint-by-number fabric" (see Moda Birds by Number, Deer by Number by Erin Michael for Moda, and this blog post has a good etsy round up). So. I ended up with a coloring book painting.'s like paint-by-number, right? My guess is this piece is still MOBA-worthy, lol.

I think it looks damn good [country-style] on an antique washboard, hahaha.
Painting, as Cheesy Country Washboard

This is a step-by-step record of how I created a partially unfinished-looking painting. You could also follow these directions for creating a hand-painted/drawn reproduction of any artwork. Be forewarned: depending on your painting skills, it may look nothing like the desired original image ;)

Step 0: Gather Materials

Photo of Van Gogh's 12 Sunflowers [Poster]

Materials: Pencil, ruler, eraser,
Desired Image (above: there's a cleaned-up coloring book version of this "Vase with 12 Sunflowers" by Van Gogh available from,
Prepped canvas/paper (I used pre-stretched, prepared canvas from a craft store),
Paint (I used cheap $1 plastic bottles of acrylic,
Cup of water (to quickly clean brushes in between colors),
Paper towel (clean brushes),
Drop cloth or cardboard (to protect the paint surface),
Paintbrushes (I used a 1/4"-wide flat brush, and a tiny round brush),
Something to mix paint colors on (i.e., cardboard),
Paint marker, etc.

Step 1: Place Grid on Image

Step 1: Place Grid on Image

Take a print-out of your desired image and (using a ruler) place a square grid on top. I used 1"x1" squares in this example.

It's also possible to draw a grid on the image using software, as I did.

Step 2: Transfer the Image Using the Grid

Step 2: Transfer the Image Using the Grid

If you want, you can just free hand the image you want onto the canvas. However, I'm not particularly good at drawing, so this is the method I use:
  1. After you draw a grid over your desired image, figure out how many squares tall & wide you need/want.
  2. Using some basic math, determine how large the squares on the target canvas need to be. (I take the smallest length/width of the canvas, and divide it by the smallest number from the previous step.
  3. Using a ruler, draw squares of the size determined in the previous step onto the canvas.
  4. Using the grids on both the desired image and the canvas, draw the illustration onto your canvas.

Step 3: Background Base Coat

Step 3: Background Base Coat
If you're using cheap, $1 per plastic bottle acrylics, as I am, then you're going to need to give the canvas a base coat, so that you can't see through to the canvas when you're done. Let dry.

Step 4: Background Top Coat

Step 4: Background Top Coat
Using whatever painting skills you have, do the "top coat" for the background. I like to paint with various colors on the canvas when the previous color is still wet. This gives the cheapo acrylics the simulated look of texture (oil-based paints will rise off the canvas more). Let dry.
Step 4: Paint the Sides of the Canvas
If you're painting on a stretched piece of canvas, then you may wish to either tape off the sides, or paint the sides. This way, when the artwork is viewed from the side, it looks neat/intentional.

Step 5: Foreground Base Coat

Step 5: Foreground Base Coat
Time to do the foreground base coat using a simplified color scheme. Make sure none of the blank canvas is peeking through. Let dry. If you chose as I did to keep some parts not-painted (i.e., coloring book style), make sure not to paint them here!

Step 6: Foreground Top Coat

Step 6: Foreground Top Coat
Paint on top of your base coat. This may take several layers of paint, it may not. Let dry. As with the background, I painted a single flower brown-yellow, and while it was still wet, painted petals in pure yellow on top of the wet paint. It blends it a little bit.

Step 7: Paint Blank Areas with White, as Needed

Step 7: Paint Blank Areas with White, as Needed
I needed to paint my blank areas with a few coats of white paint to cover up pencil marks. Let dry.

Step 8: Draw Coloring Book Lines with Paint Marker

Step 8: Draw Coloring Book Lines with Paint Marker
I used a paint marker (you could use a small paintbrush) to draw in the "coloring book lines" on top of my white areas.
Don't Forget Your Signature
If you're not terribly ashamed of your end product, then you may wish to sign it somewhere.

Step 9: Done!

Step 9: Done!
Hang it someplace where the other children won't make fun of you ;)

How To: Attach a Chain to 2-point Attachment Charm

Monday, July 26, 2010

Awhile back I had a tutorial on how to create the below [illustrated] embroidered necklace. Fast forward 4 months later, and the summer heat is causing my skin to react with the copper deposits in the inexpensive craft store chain...resulting in green marks around my neck.

Step 7: Done!

Uh, yeah. So, how do we prevent the green rings? If it's a ring (not made of gold/platinum/sterling silver), you can paint the inside of the ring with a clear coat of nail polish. If it's a necklace, I think your best bet is to replace the chain with something that's not silver or gold -plated, but fully sterling silver or gold.
Silver-plated Copper Necklace Chain Silver-plated Copper Ring

This is just a quick illustrated tutorial for removing and adding a chain on a charm that has two attachment points (I have a couple necklaces like this). It could easily be adapted for other types of charms.

Step 0: Gather Materials
Step 0: Gather Materials

Materials: 4 jump rings, 1 lobster (or other) clasp, wire cutters, needle nose pliers (or flat/round nose), a 2 attachment-point charm, and a piece of chain that's long enough.

Step 1: [Optional] Remove Old Chain
Step 1: [Optional] Remove Old Chain

If you're replacing a chain, use wire cutters to cut the old jump rings, or needle nose pliers to bend them open and remove the jump rings+chain.

Step 2: Cut 2 Pieces of Chain of Desired Length
Step 2: Cut 2 Pieces of Chain of Desired Length

Use the wire cutters to cut two pieces of jewelry chain of the desired length for your necklace. These two pieces should be of approximately similar length (if you want the charm centered), but you can play around with this proportion.

Step 3: Open Jump Rings
Step 3: Open Jump Rings

Bend open the 4 jump rings with a needle nose (or some other) pliers.

Step 4: Attach Chain+Charm with a Jump Ring
Step 4: Attach Chain+Charm with a Jump Ring

Thread the charm and first piece of chain onto an opened jump ring. Use pliers to bend the jump ring closed, as shown. Do this again, with the second piece of chain and a new jump ring, to the other side of the charm.

At this point, I like to test the chain lengths and hold the necklace around my neck, to make sure it's the correct balance and length.

Step 5: Attach Clasp to Chain with Jump Ring
Step 5: Attach Clasp to Chain with Jump Ring

Thread one end of the chain and the clasp onto a third jump ring. Use the pliers to bend the jump ring closed.

Step 6: Attach Jump Ring to Other Chain End
Step 6: Attach Jump Ring to Other Chain End

Take your last jump ring and thread it onto the other end of the chain. Use pliers to bend the jump ring closed.

Step 7: Done!
Silver-plated Copper Necklace Chain

The necklace is done, with two pieces of chain at either end of the charm, closed with a clasp.

Success: Green Onion Pancakes

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Green Onion Pancakes

'Used up some leftover green onions with these scallion pancakes from TheKitchn. They're really simple, devoid of nutrition, make a tremendous mess, and are quite tasty (as most things that contain the three prior qualities typically are).
Green Onion Pancakes

No modifications, but I think next time I'd use sesame oil, or something with more flavor. This recipe really gets oil absolutely everywhere.
Green Onion Pancakes

Dual Standards of Success, by Gender

Monday, July 19, 2010

Couple Bokeh

More Married Males than Females in [my] Graduate Program

Take a look at the following table, it represents the PhD students in my department, broken down by gender, marital status, and whether they have children or not. Barring the fact that this is one tiny instance (and maybe some bizarre effects of this data being from a computer science program), this is sort of wild. We have some phenomenon going on where the females are significantly less likely to be married than the males (or vice versa, I believe this data is correlational: not causal), along with my suspicion that the females are on average younger than the males.

[Edit 7/20/10: It turns out that there is no significant difference in age, by gender: F(1, 36) = 1.6991, p = 0.2007. It also turns out that age and marriage are significantly correlated: (older people are more likely to be married, or vice versa): χ²(1, N = 38) = 4.24, p = 0.0395]

PhD Students [in my department] by Gender and Marital Status
GenderSingleMarriedw. KidsTotal
χ²(1, N = 39) = 4.67, p = 0.0306 (married by gender)

Why are so few females married, despite not being younger? Notice there's the same number of males as females, one would expect a similar number married as well.

I've had some discussions about this with some colleagues, and the general [intuitive] understanding is that women give up more when a child is born. That for some reason, men can sacrifice their paycheck to further their career in a PhD program, but that women just don't. Maybe this is particular to just this computer-science-related program, maybe not.

Success for Females: Appearance + Relationships

Cue Holland & Eisenhart (1992) "Educated in Romance", an ethnographic study spanning 10 years that examines how bright, motivated women often back off their career aspirations in order to obtain success through relationships.
There's some book reviews floating about that will hint at how the book examines society's dual-measure of success; males are judged by career, sports, politics, and relationships (to a lesser extent), while women are judged with more emphasis on relationships and physical appearance.

So maybe another reason married women aren't well represented in this PhD program is because they have already achieved the greatest proportion of success that society will give them, and a PhD won't add noticeably to that? Or that furthering one's career just falls to the wayside when focusing on appearance, love life, and family?

Women's Relationship Blogs

What would you think of a blog titled, "A Day in the Life of a Grad Student's Husband"?

I have been noticing a surprisingly large number of blogs where the female authors have defined it entirely around being "a Grad Student's Wife" or a "Grad-Student Girlfriend." Even the blogs dedicated to "being single" strike me as unusual- what if these blogs were written by males? Why is it acceptable (expected?) for a woman to have a relationship blog, but not males? Does a "relationship blog" entail a focus on relationships in one's life?

Those in glass houses...

My blog is named after vegetarian BBQs I used to hold in my backyard as an undergraduate in Philadelphia; essentially, I define my blog around food + friends. "Friends" could be counted as a relationship focus, perhaps, but I think it would be better to criticize this blog's occasional focus on clothing (i.e., appearance). Am I just giving in to society's dual standards of success by having fashion posts? Now I begin thinking in circles. It's confusing.


Why are there significantly fewer married women in my PhD program?
Does society really define male and female success differently?
How do you prioritize a desire to have a family and a career?
Is this topic even worth thinking about?

On Origins of a Blog Name

Friday, July 16, 2010

(From 2007) Philly Backyard, Looking Out 5 [final]

Back in 2007 when I was living in the first floor of a 2BR apartment bordering West Philadelphia, I spent the spring transforming the backyard from the below wasteland, to the garden above. Tiny budget, and just my two hands with which to do so.
(From 2007) Philly Backyard, Looking Out 1

It took about $200 and several hundred hours of labor (i.e., me moving dirt from one of the yard to the other), but afterwards my roommate and I were able to throw vegetarian barbecues back there. And thus began a short-lived series of "Bring Your Own Vegetables" veggie grilling parties...and the name of this blog.

Success: Black & Blue Cookies

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Blueberry Black & White Cookies

Yet another one of Joy the Baker's black and white cookies recipes, this one is the Blueberry Black and White Cookie. First there was the red velvet b&w cookies, and then the classic, and now these. Blueberry. Tasty.
Blueberry Black & White Cookies

No modifications to the recipe, although I think in the future I would add more blueberries to the icing. Maybe even more to the cookies themselves. Needs.more.fruity.goodness. Deliciousness.
Blueberry Black & White Cookies

'Haven't yet tested out their day 2 aesthetics (as the recipe warns), but they sure started out pretty...
Pittsburgh Cinema in the Park at Flagstaff Hill
Pittsburgh Cinema in the Park at Flagstaff Hill Pittsburgh Cinema in the Park at Flagstaff Hill

I brought a handful to Cinema in the Park at Flagstaff Hill to share with some friends. Free movies + cake-like cookies + warm evening + plastic cups of wine = summer.
Blueberry Black & White Cookies

Online Window Shopping = Procrastination

Monday, July 12, 2010

I think I have a bad procrastination problem, and at the moment, it centers around online window shopping (i.e., looking but not buying...sometimes).

Traced Twirls Dress

The Traced Twirls Anthropologie dress in the above image is what's wasting all my time right now. It would be nice to bring a pop of color in with a flower clip or two, but I would probably just make my own flower hair clip from some favorite fabric. I also threw in the leather bow necklace from this tutorial, along with a bunch of other items I already own. The possibilities are endless and this "no more personal spending" July is going to kill me (thankfully, the impulse-purchasing-gods have removed the teal dress off the shelves, for my own safety).

I tried the Traced Twirls dress on in the store (in black) and the fit is very flattering and reminiscent of the vintage dress from "500 Days of Summer" pictured above. The retro cut is quite lovely and it would work perfect for attending a wedding, or a local fundraiser, or just lazing about the living room watching television and gorging on ice cream.

Heat Wave

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Definition of Summer

We're experiencing a bit of a heat wave in Pittsburgh this week. These chocolate chips were barely spared from the oven that is my apartment.
Definition of Summer

Before and After

¤ Guest Post ¤

A number of Christmases ago, a cute snowman arrived at my house, filled with gourmet cookies.

After the cookies were gone, the snowman became part of our collection of Christmas decorations, along with the popsicle stick pictures frames, styrofoam bells, and ever-tangled string lights. It was a good coffee table piece. But like those other decorations, it was a little worse for wear after all those years in and out of storage.

So when it came time to decorate for a friend's bridal shower, I dug it out of the basement along with some leftover fabric and ribbon to make a centerpiece. It turned out to be the perfect size and shape, and saved me a trip to a craft store -- or perhaps multiple stores -- to find the exact materials I needed.

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