Things I Love About Erie PA

I love my town of Erie, PA! It just doesn’t get enough loving in my opinion. I was born in Erie, I grew up in Florida, and I also lived in California for almost 5 years. Then I moved back to Erie to stay for good :) Here are all of the things I LOVE about Erie! In no particular order :)

  1. Experience all seasons – In FL and CA, the weather was pretty much the same every day – sunny. Every once in awhile, it would rain. But in Erie, PA, the weather changes daily, and usually even multiple times per day! I love it because I never get sick of one kind of weather, because it changes so much! And variety is the spice of life :)
  2. Inexpensive housingIMG_20130925_190728One of the reasons I moved to Erie was to pursue my dream of becoming in artist – I knew I could never do that in CA! I have an awesome two-story house with an attic and basement for about 1/10th of what it would cost in CA!
  3. Less competition for local businesses – Erie is small, and the great thing about it is that you can start a new business without much competition. Example: We have 1 movie theater, 1 mall, 1 paint-your-own-pottery studio, 1 dinner theater, 1 zoo, etc.
  4. No fear of natural disasters – In FL it was hurricanes, and in CA it was earthquakes. Erie, nothing too scary!
  5. Most houses come with basement & attic – In FL and CA, you were lucky if you had a little crawl space under the house. Sometimes there’d be an attic, but it was harder to get to because you had to pull those stairs down from the ceiling. In Erie, there’s a basement and an attic in most houses! And they have normal staircases so they’re super easy to access. I have so much storage space! It took me awhile to get out of the habit of storing things in weird places like under/behind the couch.
  6. Less traffic – Erie is a small enough city that there is really not much traffic at all. Sure, people may complain about Peach Street – but they just don’t know how good they’ve got it until they spend some time driving in Orlando!
  7. Low curbs & other driving barriers – In Erie, the curbs along the street are so low that it wouldn’t hurt your car if you accidentally went over one. Similarly, there are virtually no speed bumps (except in the Giant Eagle parking lot on 12th ;)) and you also will rarely see those parking bumper thingies that mark the parking space. I’m guessing this is because when it snows, you wouldn’t be able to see them, and you’d be clunkin’ around all over them. This brings me to…
  8. When it’s snowing, you can park anywhere! You can pretty much make your own parking space, because you can’t see where any of the parking lines are due to the snow!
  9. We still have local video stores! Erie is a little behind in some things, and I love it! We still have actual video stores, which is awesome. I love being able to go and browse the videos instead of picking them out on a computer screen on Netflix. Bonus: Family Video has a pizza store attached to it, and they’re connected by a window, so you can order your pizza right at the window inside the video store!
  10. Tiny airport – This airport is SO small, you wouldn’t believe it! Going through security takes like 2 minutes. You can check in like 20 minutes before your flight. It’s amazing!
  11. Close to major cities – If you get tired of little Erie and want something more, it’s just a couple hours to Pittsburg or Cleveland! It’s even closer to Westfield, NY and Chautauqua, NY.
  12. Great zoo at a great price – DSC01170-S-squareThe Erie Zoo is a great size (not too big, not too small) and the price is way less expensive than zoos in bigger cities. Even the food and snacks are low-priced! When my sister, who lives in GA, comes with her family for vacation, she is always amazed at the Zoo prices.
  13. Less bugs – In Florida, bugs were everywhere! Especially palmetto bugs, roaches, love bugs, & fire ants. Also, you have to do bug control like every month to keep the bugs away. In Erie, there’s only 1 bug I hate – centipedes – but as long as you spray like twice a year, you’re pretty safe. I’m still always amazed at how bug-free my life has been since I’ve moved here!
  14. Real soil in the ground – Ok, this is an odd one, but a good one! When I lived in Florida, if I wanted to plant something in the ground, I would need to get soil from the store because the dirt is not soil, it’s sand. In Erie, the ground is actually soil, so it’s helpful to buy soil because of the nutrients, but not necessary! I think that is so cool.
  15. Support for local artists11233352_957015371012114_8363838986253775371_oErie may be small, but it has a lot going on! There is so much great support for local artists. There are tons of annual art shows and festivals, as well as great local organizations (like Erie Arts & Culture) that give artists lots of opportunities for work. There are also local art shops and galleries to help artists sell their work as well!
  16. Outside = freezer in winter – This may sound a little weird, but having previously lived in FL and CA, I just love the extra convenience of being able to put extra food outside in our attached shed in the winter! Also, if you go to a restaurant and have leftovers, you can keep them in the car as long as you want, as you do other things, and don’t have to worry about them spoiling. I could never do that in FL!
  17. Don’t need sprinklers – In FL, sprinklers are the norm, because it is SO HOT that you have to water your grass every day or it’ll die! In Erie, you rarely see sprinklers. Although some days it may be as hot as FL, the weather changes so much that you have enough mild/cool days to keep your grass happy :)
  18. Cute winter clothing – In FL, I always wanted to wear cute scarves, but it was never cold enough. In CA sometimes I could get away with lighter scarves. But in Erie, I finally get to live out my dream of wearing cute scarves, hats, gloves, winter boots, and cute coats! (I am so obsessed with boots now!)
  19. White Christmas – One thing that made me sad during Christmas in FL was that it never really felt like Christmas. You couldn’t even wear a Christmas sweater unless you’d be inside all day and would crank up your A/C. But in Erie, we always get a beautiful white Christmas! Not to mention, we get to drink hot cocoa and sit by the fire too!
  20. Seasonal Activities12983418_10105039919847072_1333700647522667720_oIn FL and CA, it’s pretty much the same activities year-round (although in CA, at least you can drive to Lake Tahoe for winter activities). Erie is so exciting because the fun things change throughout the year! And as you know by now, I like variety :) In the summer there’s kayaking, beach volleyball, and picnics at Presque Isle, plus the Zoo and drive-in movie theater. In the winter we have ice fishing (!), skiing, sledding… Well, really just too many to mention! There are also more fun things close by like Peek’n Peak (zip-lining in the summer, skiing in the winter).

My New Project – A Children’s Book!

As I’ve been thinking about the new year and where I want my art to go, the one big thing I can’t get out of my mind is creating a children’s book. I’ve been wanting to do one for quite some time and it’s been just sitting there in the back of my mind. So I figured, why not make that my big project for this year?

DSC06125-2-S

The coloring book I created a little over a year ago, Friendship in the Forest, was all about friendship and showing your friends that you care for them. I want this book to be similar, but still have a different lesson, so they can go hand-in-hand. I was thinking of making it about how all the animals in the forest are different, and it makes them special.

FF-04 forest-friends copy

When I think back on my childhood, I remember some nice moments, but I also remember the teasing. It bothers me how kids so easily make fun of each other for being different. I’d like to try to change that :) So I want to create a book about how the animals of the forest are all different, and it makes them special. For example, Bear is big, so he gives the best hugs. And Bunny has big, floppy ears, which make him a good listener.

Right now I’m working on the initial words & sketches. I’ll post more when I get some more stuff done! Thanks for reading :)

Celebrate Erie – Glass Growers Gallery Artist Demo

This past weekend I had the amazing opportunity to be the demonstrating artist for Glass Growers Gallery in Erie, PA during Celebrate Erie! If you’re not familiar with Celebrate Erie, it’s a festival that happens every year in downtown Erie. There’s live music, great food, and artists draw amazing pictures all along State Street – it’s called the “Chalk Walk.”

Below is my friend Caitlin painting Chalk Art for Claytopia (the place I teach my painting classes).

Claytopia Erie's Chalk Walk art

Glass Growers Gallery is a super cute, eclectic art gallery on 5th and State. I brought my art there recently, and was asked to be their demonstrating artist. I’m used to painting in front of people because I teach painting classes, but I’ve never just done it as a “demo”!

Glass Growers Gallery

I decided to do a big, 24″x36″ painting that would be based off of the last page of my coloring book. The page says “Friends of the forest keep each other warm” and has a bear curled up around a fox, curled up around a mouse.

Forest Friends Coloring Book Page - bear, fox, mouse

I was super excited about painting during the event, but I didn’t realize just what a great experience it would be! I usually paint in my art studio in my house – I don’t usually paint outdoors. It was so different. First of all, I must say, SUN = great lighting :) It was so warm and beautiful outside.

Painting at Glass Growers Gallery for Celebrate Erie

And there was live music outside, people passing by chit-chatting, and I loved it when people stopped and sat there and watched me paint! It was such a great feeling.

Artist Demo at Glass Growers

It’s amazing how big a difference changing your environment can be. I’m thinking I should start painting on my front porch – at least I can feel some good sun that way!

Here are some close-ups of my finished product :)

DSC05537-S DSC05540-S

Magnet Packaging

When I started making magnets, I tried many different ways to package them (in packs of 4). I had the following problems:

  • Magnets would shift inside the packaging
  • Magnets would stick to each other
  • If I put two packs of magnets close to each other, they’d stick to each other & thus get shifted around inside the packaging
  • Tins were too expensive

I finally found a solution that works perfectly! The magnets stay in place, and it doesn’t cost a fortune. Read along for the answer…

washer for magnet packaging

The main part of my solution is this giant washer. Using 4 small washers gave me issues – the magnets would shift around inside the packaging. With a big round washer like this, the magnets stick perfectly to each of the 4 corners. Since the washer is so big, it’s strong enough to hold the magnets in place, so they don’t shift around at all – even if the pack touches other magnets!

I got the washers from my local home improvement store. I bought a box of them, and buying them this way, in bulk, they end up costing about 20 cents each.

supplies for magnet packaging Here are the supplies I used – clear plastic bag (3″x4″), 3 pieces of thick white paper cut to size, 2″ washer, and Aleene’s Tacky Glue.
tacky glue on washer First, put tacky glue on the washer.
position washer on paper Next, position the washer on one of the pieces of paper. It should be somewhat thick paper – I use blank index cards cut to size.
back is wrinkled from glue The glue causes the back to be all warped and wrinkled, so that’s why I put another piece of paper behind it – so you don’t see that through the packaging.
sandwich between two layers Sandwich the washer/paper between two other pieces of the paper to make it look pretty.
sandwiched The sandwiched papers.
place the magnets Place the magnets onto the papers
slide the magnets into the plastic bag Slide the magnets into the plastic bag.
bag of magnets And you have your bag of magnets!
header for packaging I like to print out a little header for my packaging, to staple to the top of the bag. I whipped this one up in Photoshop – I just used some of my art and put some text on the front. I also put my web address on the back, so people can find me again.
fold the header in half Fold the header in half.
staple header to bag Staple the header to the bag.
DSC05477-S Done! Here’s the finished magnet pack!
view from the back View from the back.

Erie Zoo Mural

The mural I illustrated for the Erie Zoo is finally up! There are still finishing touches to be added (frame, plants, leaf benches) so it is currently closed off to the public, but the panels are up and it is so amazing to see my art at such a huge scale!

I started out drawing the layout on paper. The creative director of the project actually had the plants and animals all laid out, and it was my job to redraw it in my style – they wanted kid-friendly and whimsical :) Then I colored it with colored pencils.

After the folks at the zoo signed off on my sketch, then it was time to draw it up in Illustrator using my Wacom tablet. Drawing it up in Illustrator allowed me to draw it in vector format, so that it could be scaled to 20 feet by 7 feet without losing quality.

Here are some closeups of my illustrations:

  

After drawing it up in Illustrator (it took about 3 weeks) then I sent it to the printer. It took awhile for them to print it and install it. But now it’s finally up! It was so amazing seeing it in person.

This was definitely one of my favorite art projects ever! I had such an amazing time illustrating it. I’ll post more updates when the rest gets finished!

 

Postal Fruit!

 

I was listening to Craftcast, a crafty podcast, last week while working on an illustration project. Allison Arden, the girl being interviewed, mentioned that she was able to mail an orange via USPS – with no packaging at all. I couldn’t believe it. So I had to try it out for myself!

So, I Sharpied-up an apple with my mom’s name and address, and I stuck 3 stamps on it, because according to the girl on the blogcast, it only took 3 stamps. On the other side, I wrote “have a nice day!” and drew flowers, hearts, etc!

Well today, 3 days later, my mom told me that she got my apple! She said, “It had no return address on it, but I thought, ‘Only Heather could have sent this!'” (I guess that’s a reference to my silliness :-P)

However, she did say that it had a “postage owed” stamp on it – she had to pay $1.71! So apparently the full cost would be $3.06. So next time I will buy some dollar stamps :)

 

I am very excited and can’t wait to send some happy day apples to my niece, nephews, siblings, and friends! What a fun surprise to get in the mail! :)

So here’s a quick summary on how to mail your OWN “have a nice day” apple :)

  • Using a Sharpie marker,  write the name and address
  • Affix stamps right onto the apple – around $3 worth (if it’s not enough, the recipient will be asked to pay it)
  • Draw something cute on the other side
  • Drop it in the post office box (I dropped it into the one right inside of USPS)
  • Note: According to Allison Arden, it is “at your own risk” – if the fruit rots or is otherwise a nuisance, they can throw it away
  • Note: You can also try this with oranges and baby pumpkins (Halloween surprise!)

My Paintings in Artomat Machines!

 

Last year, I sent 50 tiny paintings to Artomat. In case you’ve never heard of Artomat, they convert old cigarette machines into art vending machines! There are over 100 machines all over the world.

I recently got my report which lists all of the artomat locations that host my paintings! I didn’t realize there would be so many! My art is in PA, NE, NC, SC, MN, and FL! So if you happen to live near one of these places, you can check out my work! In fact, I’d love a photo of the machine with my placecard in it :) Here are the locations:

I even have a special artist page on the Artomat website!

As you can see, this series is called Forest Friends. Here are some closeups of some of the paintings (click for a larger view):

 

 

Note: If you’re interested in becoming an artomat artist, all of the details are on the Artomat Guidelines page on the Artomat website. :)

Happy New Year!

Happy new year! I am so excited for 2013. Have you made any New Year’s resolutions? A lot of popular resolutions I hear of are sticking to so-and-so diet, sticking to a workout schedule, or getting rid of little annoying habits like biting nails. Really? Come on, people! Step it up a notch. You have only one life to live. When you are 98 years old on your death bed are you really going to be looking back and thinking how happy you are that you stuck to your diet back in 2013? Or that you stopped biting your nails?

Of course not! You’ll be thinking about those huge moments in your life that change the way you see things forever. Or those big changes you made that caused your life to do a complete 180. And you’ll be thinking about the people who are important to you.

So rather than focus on little goals that will probably fade away a few months in, I like to take a big-picture look at the past year of my life. Has this year brought me closer to where I want to be in life? Have I worked towards the life I want? How have I balanced my family life with my work?

Whether it be more time with family, furthering my career, or even just having enough “me” time at the end of the day – I get an idea of how I want the next year of my life to go. Doing this each year has inspired me to work for Google, travel to other countries, illustrate a children’s book, move across the U.S., and become a freelance artist.

Now I know that when I look back on my life as a whole, I can see these major accomplishments and be proud of what I’ve done each year. Because in the end, will I really remember whether I stuck to my diet in the year 2013, or whether I worked out every day? No – What I’ll really remember is whether I did everything to achieve my greatest dreams in this one life that I have to live.

For this year: More illustration projects, and more painting! Stay tuned for updates :)

Festival of Trees in Erie, PA – My tree!

I found out about the St Vincent Festival of Trees from my friends at Claytopia, the pottery studio where I teach my painting on canvas classes. Gretchen (the owner) mentioned that Claytopia was going to have their very own tree with painted pottery pieces all over it! Immediately I had visions of a tree covered in my paintings. So I contacted St Vincent and got in!

Designing my tree

My tree was to be themed “Forest Friends”. It would be a whimsical, colorful, tree with woodland creatures, and all 100% hand-painted ornaments.

So first, I had to pick my colors. I LOVE teal, so teal was definitely in. I wanted two other accent colors that really felt like “me” – and since I use a lot of orange and purple in my paintings, those seemed perfect. So I settled on teal, orange, and purple. I grabbed a ton of felt in those colors to get started on my garland!

For my garland, I decided to do big leaves in my tree colors – but I wanted them whimsical and fun as opposed to realistic. I wanted them to look like the leaves I would paint in my paintings!

It took many many nights of stapling my leaves to a very long wired ribbon. Then, I hot-glued the sides and ends of the leaves together, so that the garland would lay flat. I love the way it turned out and I got SO many compliments on my garland afterwards.

Then there were the acorns. Oh, the acorns! I bought 300 little wooden acorns from Woodworks, Ltd (a great place to buy bulk wood craft supplies, esp. sawtooth hangers!). I painted the acorns teal, orange, and purple. It took forever but was so exciting seeing my tree come to life!

One part I thought about for awhile was, how will I attach the acorns to the tree? Finally I asked my super-crafty friend Erica, who can build pretty much anything. She responded with “I’ll make you a drill press that fits your acorns perfectly, and I’ll help you drill them!” What a lifesaver! Within a couple days she had a custom-made drill press for me, and she came over and drilled while I painted.

Showing off her expertise!

After all the acorns were complete, I hung them in singles and in clusters on the tree. I loved making clusters of 2 and 3 acorns. They looked so cute!

Then there were the lights. I wanted lights that matched my colors – teal, orange, and purple. I bought strands of those colors, but wanted the colors to alternate. So, instead of having a strand of all teal, and a strand of all purple, etc, I wanted my strands to have bulbs of all color. So I removed the bulbs on all the strands and made them alternate colors.

The result – my strands of teal, orange, and purple lights! I think they are beautiful.

Then, to go along with my woodland creatures theme, I decided to add some birdhouses. So I ordered about 50 wooden birdhouses of varying sizes from Sunshine Discount Crafts (tons of awesome craft supplies for a great bulk price).

I painted the birdhouses in my colors, and kept them fairly simple, like my paintings! I did add some cute details too though, like shingles on the roof.

Finished birdhouse!

And finally, my paintings! I decided to do paintings of the animals of the forest, using my tree colors. I got a bunch of flat 4″x4″ canvas panels from Dick Blick, some ribbon, and 3 different kinds of glue! Yes, 3. I don’t trust glue. It just has never worked out well for me! Whenever I need it to work the most, it seems like my creations just fall apart. So I got 3 different kinds, and I used ALL 3. That way if one fails, hopefully the others will hold on.

And here are the finished paintings!

The tree topper

And, last but not least, my tree topper! I decided to really make my animals come to life. So I made a nest with 4 forest animals sitting in it – a fox, an owl, a squirrel, and a bunny.

First I bought two wreaths made of branches from Michaels. I stacked the bigger one on top of the smaller one to make a nest.

Then I drew out my forest animals on paper, so I could make a pattern.

I used the same felt that I used for my garland to make the forest animals. I sewed them together with my sewing machine, and stuffed them with filling. For the bunny ears, I sandwiched some cardboard between two pieces of felt so they would stand up straight, then I hot-glued them to the bunny’s head.

Then I added all the finishing touches – the colored markings, and the eyes, noses, and mouths. I love the result – I think they look like they came straight out of one of my paintings! :)

After thinking about it for awhile, I finally settled on sewing the animals to the nest using fishing line. It actually turned out really great! The animals stood straight really well, and there was room in the center of the wreath for the top of the tree to come through.

And here is the finished topper!

Setting up my tree

And of course, as it is with any huge art project, I finished everything late the night before setup. ;) The next day, my boyfriend and I actually had a flight out to Florida from Pittsburgh for our Thanksgiving vacation! So, early the next morning, we went to the Convention Center to setup my tree before the flight!

We wrapped the lights around the topper to give it a little something extra :)

My tree was the first one decorated!

Here I am with my finished tree!

I also made a huge 24″x24″ painting with my name and a tagline “Painting & Illustration” to go with my tree. I’m going to use it at art festivals too, as a sign for my booth!

I put it behind a little table with flyers for my painting classes, business cards, and free bookmarks. They went really fast, which made me really happy!

Here are some closeups of my tree!

 

The event!

After we got back from our Thanksgiving vacation in Florida, there was still one day left for the Festival of Trees! So we stopped by to check out all the beautiful trees.

We put some tickets in for the silent auction. I was excited to see a lot of tickets in the bag for my donation! I donated two paintings.

I love the description that they came up with for my donation! “Whimsy on Canvas” – so cute! It says “Invite the whimsical mind of artist Heather Cash into your home!”

And here I am at the event with my tree! It was fun to finally just relax and enjoy all my hard work :)

From left: Erica (my friend who helped me with the acorns), Dean (her husband), Josh (my boyfriend), and me!

I hope you enjoyed seeing the process of creating my tree! Hopefully it will inspire you to do something fun & creative for your tree this year :) Happy holidays!

Fall Painting Classes

My first round of painting classes (July/August) turned out really well! I’ve had such a fun time teaching and I love getting new ideas from my students. For the new season, I came up with some ideas for fall-themed paintings – and I’ll also be re-teaching a couple of the popular ones.

For the fall, I’m planning on doing a Fall Leaves painting. The background is teal, and it has birch trees and fall leaves. This is actually going to be part of a series – for Winter, I’ll do a birch trees with snow painting; for Spring, maybe I’ll have flowers, or birds…

I also have a few Halloween paintings planned. A black cat on a pumpkin, a crow, and a black cat on the moon!

I also have a few non-seasonal paintings. The owls on a branch & cupcake paintings are the most popular ones, so I’ll be re-teaching those ones. I also came up with 2 new owl paintings – an owl on the moon, and a little owl (on a small 4×4 canvas)!

Classes start Sept 19th – the schedule is posted on my website under Painting Classes, and anyone can sign up online at the Claytopia website on the Canvas Class Schedule page. Looking forward to a fun Fall season of painting!