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 used a tip I found on DoYouSew.com, and 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!

Erie Summer Festival of the Arts

This past weekend was the Erie Summer Festival of the Arts! It was fantastic! This was my first big art festival. It was so great to hear feedback on my paintings first-hand, and it was so inspiring when people really gushed over my stuff!

I sold so many more paintings than I had expected to. I sold over half of the paintings I brought, as well as some coloring books, greeting cards, and bookmarks. And now I’m just super excited for the next art festival, whenever that will be!

Here is a photo of some of the paintings that I brought to the festival. Most of these ones sold!

I even got a small custom painting order! She wanted a small 5″x5″ canvas block, similar to my other pink paintings with birds:

Here is how it turned out:

I really love the way it turned out!! It makes me want to do more like it! And it inspires me with more ideas. I am really starting to like these canvas blocks. They’re cool because they stand up all by themselves. I’m going to make some more and I’ll post pics when I get some done. :)

Painting on canvas classes at Claytopia

I have some exciting news – I’m going to be teaching painting on canvas classes at Claytopia in Erie, PA!

Shortly after I moved here, I met Gretchen from Claytopia. She invited me to teach painting on canvas classes there. I did a practice class last Friday, and it went really great!

The classes will be standalone (not in a series) and each class will focus on painting a particular painting step-by-step.

For the practice class, I did a painting of owls on a branch.

Here I am showing how to paint the branch in a wavy line.

And here, I am describing how to paint the shapes of the owls (my special trick!).

Here are the students hard at work painting their backgrounds :)

My Aunt Stacy and my cousin Jake came too!

Here I am with all the students holding their paintings!

I think they all turned out great, and they were each very different and unique!

My next steps will be planning out the painting classes – I have a lot of ideas! Pajama night, girls night, boys night (dragon painting?), and storytime + painting with kids. After I plan the classes I want to teach, they want a month to advertise it before I actually hold the class. The first class I do will probably be the same as the practice class though, since it is something I’m already familiar with. I will post updates as more stuff happens with this!

Local art, coffee, & lots of history at the Erie Book Store

Today the Erie Book Store opened up a coffee shop inside! I’m so excited because after moving to Erie in February, I’ve been looking for a cute little independently-owned coffee shop (I’m not much into chains) and haven’t had any luck. Also, I love the Erie Book Store because they are really involved in the community & they even sell art and gifts from local artists in their shop!

The coffee shop is called Flagship City Cafe, and the whole theme is nautical, even down to the drinks! The drink I got is called War of 1812, and it has espresso and amaretto. It was so good! The next one I want to try is The Crows Nest – Espresso, steamed milk, chocolate and peanut butter syrup topped with whipped cream and chocolate drizzle. Supposedly it tastes like a peanut butter cup – yum!

They also have some yummy looking pastries and a coffee discount card! After buying 10 you get 1 free!

But, one of the coolest things about the cafe is that it has so many handmade personal touches! Mimi, the owner’s fiance, made these amazing vases by hand to fit in with the nautical theme.

And, there are handmade coffee cozies for sale, which Mimi crochets while waiting for customers! (And by the way – there’s even a knitting club that meets every Friday at the Erie Book Store! Now that the cafe is open, the meetings will be in the cafe over coffee!)

So, that’s the cafe… but bookstore is equally as unique and charming! It has so much history, character, and touches from local artists.

The first thing I noticed when I first went to the Erie Book Store is that they have art from local artists all over the walls! They let me put a few paintings up in the children’s book section (near the entrance). And they are carrying Treasure Hunt in the Enchanted Forest, the book I illustrated!

They also sell gifts and cards from local artists! There’s all kinds of cool knitted hats, bookmarks, etc.

They have all kinds of old books and even old newspapers! And cute places to sit, too :) I could spend forever in there.

Oh yeah, they also have an Erie Book Store Facebook page where they post about cool events that they hold at the shop!

So in conclusion, you can probably see why the Erie Book Store is now one of my favorite places in Erie :) If you’re in Erie, make sure you stop by and check out the coffee shop, local art, and unique books!

My 30th Birthday!

Today is my 30th birthday! Wow, what a year it has been. So much has happened this past year!

I illustrated my first children’s book!

I participated in my first art festival (a small one :)).

I traveled to Ireland, Scotland, and Switzerland with friends.

I adopted a sweet lovey-dovey 12 year old cat named Maya from the humane society.

I moved from CA to Erie, PA to live near my grandmother.

And I’m super excited about my plans for next year! Here’s what I’m planning for another great year:

  • Illustrate another children’s book
  • Participate in the Erie Summer Festival of the Arts
  • Sell my work in Art-o-mat art vending machine
  • Get my cards, bookmarks, & prints in some small gift shops around the city
  • Write & illustrate my own coloring book

My Artomat Submission

I’m submitting my artwork to Artomat! They take old cigarette vending machines and turn them into art vending machines. There are over 90 machines in existence today! (Find one near you!)

In order to get your art into Artomat, you have to submit a prototype to get their approval. I just finished making my prototype which I am going to send to them today.

Each piece of artwork is 3″x2″. So, I used a 3″x2″ mini canvas to make a miniature painting. It’s similar to my Sleepy Fox painting.

On the Artomat website, they recommend putting some info about yourself with the painting, so after wrapping the painting in foam wrap for protection, I taped an “About the Artist” card on the top (along with a little thank you note to the buyer).

Then I put the whole thing in a 2″x3″ box made just for the Artomat machines.

Then, I put a hand-drawn cover on the front (although in the end I may end up printing something pretty)…

and a business card on the back. (The front of my business card is like a painting, the back is my contact info)

They also ask that applicants submit a little 2″x2″ place card for the machine, so here’s the one I designed:

And that’s all! So I send it out today, and then I wait and see what happens! Hopefully they will accept it, and if so, then I send them 50 more (each original hand made art, and each different!) and they sell them for $5 each and give me $2.50 for each one sold.

Art & Family

A year and a half ago, my dad passed away. Since then, I have realized that life is just too short to put off doing what you love (I always get sad when I remember that my dad never ended up retiring and doing woodwork), and that life is constantly changing. I’ve also learned the importance of family.

Because of this, I’ve decided to move to Erie, PA, to live near my grandmother – something I’ve always wanted to do, since my family moved to FL when I was 2, and I never got to live near her.

I’ll be doing freelance web development part-time, and the rest of my time will be spent on my true passion, art. I will work on illustrating more books, creating and selling more paintings, and hopefully participating in art fairs and getting my work in small independently owned boutiques! I made an artist page on Facebook, so you can subscribe to it if you want to stay updated on all my art & illustration projects.

I’m so excited to start spending much more time on my two favorite things – art and family!

My last day at Google is this Friday, and I’ll be flying to Pennsylvania in two weeks, on the 6th!

Art update

With all the holiday bustle I haven’t had a chance to post any updates, but I have lots to share! Here’s what has happened since my last post…

I designed a coloring book, bookmarks, and the Amazon Webstore for Treasure Hunt in the Enchanted Forest, the book I illustrated.

The bookmarks are coin-themed. Each bookmark design features a different kind of special coin (like the War Nickel) along with a character from the book, and facts about the coin on the back of the bookmark.
Inside the book, there’s a different activity on each page, and the children can apply what they’ve learned from reading the book.
Designing the Amazon Webstore was an interesting learning experience! The Amazon Webstore editing interface definitely took some getting used to, but I was glad I could upload my own CSS files :)

Also, recently I participated in my first ever craft fair – the holiday gift fair at work. It was so much fun setting up my booth and I met lots of new people!

Here is a picture of my booth. I had little easels with small paintings on them, and the rest of my paintings in a box in front of the booth. I also had packs of cards and my bookmarks, and a copy of the book I illustrated. The greeting cards are what sold the most! They went so fast. I already have plans for a new set of greeting cards, so I’m already excited for the next craft fair, whenever that may be!

Treasure Hunt Children’s Book – Cover art and website

I mentioned in my previous posts that I was super busy illustrating this children’s book – well, I finally finished! All the files are in the publisher’s hands now, and we’re just waiting for the book to get printed.

The last piece of art I completed for the book is the cover art. I didn’t know what to do for the cover art, so I asked my mom and the author for ideas, and they both came up with the same idea! To show the whole enchanted forest, with a path leading to the treasure chest, since the whole theme of the story is a treasure hunt in the enchanted forest (the full title is “Treasure Hunt in the Enchanted Forest (The Search for Good Money).

The two owls are the main characters in the story. In the cover illustration, they are each holding a wing out, ushering the reader into the enchanted forest. There are coins on the path that lead to the treasure chest. I also included some of the other animal characters peaking out from the trees.

Another thing I finished recently is the website for the book. We were actually going to contract it out to someone else, but since I was finished with the illustrations, but my imagination was not yet finished running wild, I decided to create the website too. Here’s a screenshot of the homepage of the site:

I had so much fun with the website! I made a Meet the Characters page, where you can click on a character and it will show a scene from the book with the character in it, and some text about the character. There’s also some coloring pages, and a Make Your Own Matrix page (where kids can fill in things that they think could be money, and rate them based on the 5 qualities of money).
I have a ton of other ideas for the website, but one thing at a time :)
By the way, if you’re as excited about the book as I am, you can subscribe to the book’s Facebook page for updates!