Monday, November 12, 2012

Happy Dance! Guess what's coming back?

When I was in middle school, a few close friends of mine had a very embarrassing, but entirely expressive "happy dance" whenever something exciting happened. I just busted out my moves again becaauuuuuuuseeee.... MILLION DOLLAR DECORATORS IS COMING BACK for a new season!

A couple of years ago I caught the season premiere of this reality show featuring designers Martyn Lawrence-Bullard, Mary McDonad, Kathryn Ireland and Jeffrey Allen Marks. Totally hooked. Gorgeous rooms, high-end (sometimes celebrity) clients, complete eye-candy combined with a glimpse of a luxurious world. Watching them deal with the same issues as many designers out there (declining budgets, surprise one-week deadlines, materials not being delivered). And on top of it: they were all friends! .None of them hated each other. No-drama, but lots of drama. You know, design draaaaamaaaaaa.....

For the last year, I've literally hoarded the last issue of MDD in my DVR because (a) It's amaze-balls and (b) I've been so scared it would be cancelled (maybe fewer high-end clients in our current economic environment?)

Season premiere TODAY, November 13th @ 10EST/9CST on BRAVO. Check them out on facebook here.

Happy dance!

Have you seen Million Dollar Decorators before? Watching the new season???

Thursday, October 18, 2012

How to Make a DIY Abtract Painting... By Monet-Erin. MonErin.

Do you remember when I mentioned the idea of trying some DIY abstract art for the bedroom? Now do you remember rolling on the floor and bellowing "Gooooohoohoood luck!  Bahahaha!". Well I don't totally blame you, Doing this kind of project can be sort of intimidating, I know. I speak-eth from experience. But I tried it out on a small canvas this weekend and want to share some tips I discovered with my step-by-step process, as it evolved.

Disclaimer: I do not consider myself an visual artist. I'm not even claiming this looks really great. But it's a starting point for those of us who may want to pick up a paintbrush and try something. I'm not pretending to know more than I do. So please, please do not keep calling me Picasso. It's embarrasing. Call me Monet-rin. MonErin. 

Step 1 (Optional): Find an inspiration painting. Don't feel like it has to be a replica! It doesn't. I chose this guy, as a practice for my bedroom painting:
from designer Leslie Strauss via decorpad
If anyone knows how I can credit the artist above, please let me know. 
Remember, only "based on' this painting. I like the color and composition, but replicating it exactly isn't nearly as much fun (and it's impossible). 

Step 2: Paint your canvas the background color of your choice. Mine was used for testing paint colors for the bedroom, so I just kept it as-is.

Step 3: Start layering with your primary "foreground" color.

Step 4 Add more pops of color, a little at a time.

How to Make a DIY Abstract Painting :)

 Step 6: Enjoy your work!

The biggest thing I learned was it's a lot more fun if you're not too critical of yourself. Have fun and enjoy it.

Have you tried DIY art of some king, painting or otherwise? Were you pleased with the outcome? Did you learn anything from the experience? Or would you rather just buy something?

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Kelly Packer Q-n-A (Art Crush Part 2)!

As promised, I'm bringing you a round-up of some favorite art pieces from Kelly Packer, an artist I found two years ago on Etsy. You've met Billy and Brigit, but I would like to bring some more pleasing eye-candy. I'm also so thrilled to feature an interview with Kelly about her process as an artist, and especially her use of color and materials, among other things! Kelly was so gracious and her answers are awwwweeesommmme.

First, I want to give you an idea of why I love Kelly's work so much by sharing a few favorites I found on her site. In addition to the composition itself (and some intangible characteristics I'm to impatient to try to articulate), it's her use of color.

For example, here are a few from her series "40 Saints". Each accompanies a poem written by her husband Adrian Kien (like many pieces of her work... we'll get to that in the Q&A...).

Saint Goosipher, via Kelly Packer

Denis is heedless instead of headless, via Kelly Packer

Hippolytus, via Kelly Packer

She made an insect look wonderful. I want him.
Title Unknown, image via

I adore Joseph Smith...
Joe (Joseph Smith), via Kelly Packer

"My name is owl. If I wake you up in the middle of the night you won't care. You will look at him and say something like Hey Mr. Owl, you are awesome. Thanks for waking me up. Let's hang out with yo' bad self and check out all your jazzy feathers!"
Instead of pennies for your eyes I have hamburger, via Kelly Packer

I'm not going to go all Roll Tide on you. That isn't why I love this guy. But I'm just sayin'... (P.S. This is the test if my husband ever reads my posts or not. Because this is where he would comment.... Testing...)
Saint Symbiosis, via Kelly Packer
Another favorite series of hers is the "Rue Series", which she composed while in France.
Rue Series, via Kelly Packer

Rue Series, via Kelly Packer

Rue Series, via Kelly Packer

Rue Series, via Kelly Packer

Kelly also emailed me some photos of some new, abstract pieces. Lurve.

Interview with Kelly Packer

Dwell and Tell: What is your typical creative process like? Where do you start and how do you move from there to creating your work?
Kelly: I always work from either pictures (either ones I've taken or found photos) or actual objects. It's important to have threads of recognizable structures within the drawings and paintings. Lately, my husband has been bringing me back bones from his hikes around Boise. I have been using them in a lot of my work. I also have a stack of reference books to draw passages from: radiology, MRI, and various other anatomy books.

From there it is pretty intuitive: I pull things from these sources and start to build up layers of shapes and colors.

Dwell and Tell: What inspires you work?
Kelly: Buildings with history. Spines. Alleys. Dirty things. Taxidermy. Mines. Entropy. Rooftops.

Dwell and Tell: How do you use and select color?
Kelly: That too is a very intuitive process. It's not something you can really explain. I just work at it until it doesn't look "wrong." I work at making colors vibrate and clash and push and pull. For some reason I don't use a lot of "green" green, makes things get too rainbowy. But that is generally my only rule.

Dwell and Tell: How do you consider how your pieces may look in someone's home? Do you have any feelings about how your pieces might affect the interiors/homes/enviroment of people who purchase your art?
Kelly: I am always honored and amazed when people want to live with my work. It's so wonderful. But I can't really think about it. I can't go that far down the road. That's not my job. After it leaves my studio, it becomes something new. The new owner puts their stories and interpretations into it and it takes on a new life.

Dwell and Tell: I'm so curious about how you collaborate with your husband on each body of work. How exactly does your art become a perfect partner to his poetry? Does one come before the other? 
Kelly: Our collaboration is very independent. I really loved Adrian's poem title Monopoly that he wrote before I even knew him. So I made a bunch of paintings based on the poem, one for each stanza. I really like those paintings and I still really like that poem.

And then somehow I roped him into writing titles for some paintings and the words fit the paintings so well; they gave each other depth. It depends on the project we are working on, whether the words or paintings come first. With the saint series, including Brigid and Billy, I did 40 drawings and he wrote a poem for each. But we usually go to our corners of the house and then come together to compare what we have come up with. And amazingly, it usually just works.

For our latest project, Look Up, I created ten 12x12" drawings and he wrote a poem for each. We had an exhibition and self-published them together in a book (listed here).

We must have been in the same mind-space because I think they really compliment each other.
A photo from the exhibition:  

Dwell and Tell: What mediums do you work with? Is there anything you appreciate most about them (control, blend-ability, richness of color, texture, so on)?
Kelly: Lately, I have been using acrylic and a grab bag of oil pastel, oil bars, markers, colored pencils and whatever else is lying around. I really like drawing on matboard or thick paper. I really like how the paper absorbs the drawings and allows for really dark, fine lines.

Dwell and Tell: Are there any particular brands that you've found work best? Choosing art materials can be an intimidating process for so many people, like myself, who are drawn to create and explore, but find it really confusing while at the store ("$20  for a tube of paint? Is it any better than the cheap stuff?") 
Kelly: Over the years and I have become more and more particular about my materials. Unfortunately, more expensive = better materials and it really shows during the process and in the final product. More pigment means the colors are significantly bright. Anything with the word "hue" in the name means it's considerably less vibrant. At times this is what you want, but mostly you probably want the real deal.

I have been burning through these oilbars. and each one varies so much in transparency and viscosity. It's a lot of trial and error. Which contributes to the "mistakes" that end up being the interesting parts. I was enticed by the $8 Lemon Yellow Hue, but it's a bit thin. While the Cadmium Red Medium is divine, but twice as expensive.
Winsor Newton Oil Colour
I also use these Artist's PaintStiks a lot and they are totally different than the oilbars. They are less buttery, but go on smooth (and a bit cheaper)...:
Shiva Artist's Paintstik Oil Colors - via

I never used oil pastels before because they ones I got were always chalky and very hard to work with. Then I found Caran d'Ache Neopastels:
Caran d'Ache Neopastel sets, via

Talk about buttery (and pricey). But they are worth every penny.

Also Prismacolor colored pencils are all I use because they have such concentrated color and you can get such a great line with it. And always keep my mechanical pencil stocked with lead.

I could go on, but that is probably long enough - I didn't even get to the paint (!)

Don't forget, you can buy Kelly's book, Look Up, here

I loved Kelly's work before, but I am just enthralled with her now. What great advice for the DIY artist, or crafty gal that is really lacking confidence to try something new.  Thank you so much, Kelly, for contributing!

Is there a piece or two you like most (maybe one I featured here, or one you found yourself? Are there any helpful tid-bits from Kelly you found helpful or inspriring? Have you ever considered creating some art on your own, but struggled with choosing materials, or deciphering whether one brand was better than another (or worth the cost)? Are you as in love with Kelly's use of color as I am?]]

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Just Ordered... + Anthro Pillows!

Just thought I would share a recent purchase, thanks to my Mom & Dad for a gift card they gave me for my birthday!

She's a wild card, but a beautiful one. Packed with color and graphic interest, no wallflower. Introducing...

Colorfield Cottage Pillow, Large - Anthropologie
While I'm at it, here are a few other pillow lovelies I spotted while shopping at Anthropologie online.

A wonderful combination of earth-tones and bright colors, the "Bhanded Dhurrie Pillow" in the large square shape. (My favorite version of the Bhanded Dhurrie was a longer version which is discontinued). But I love this one!
Banded Dhurrie Pillow - Large Square
Love this elegant-yet-bold little pillow with an adored teal (robins egg blue more accurately describes it?) shade, layered on black, durlap and olive. Lovely. And look real close and you'll notice those tiny hand-stitched white threads on the black portion that make it feel so plush.
Gather & Glean pillow, small - via Anthropologie
 This next one is too rich for my blood! BUT isn't it pretty?
Gather & Glean, Rectangle - Anthropologie
The colors and gray fringe sing a happy song, but look at those precious, tiny hand-sewn beads in the Jacinto Rectangle Pillow.
Jacinto Rectangle Pillow - Anthropologie pillow
 Isn't it amazing how one little pillow can make an impact on your space? Any favorites from the selections above? Or any you recently found?

Monday, August 13, 2012

Billy & Brigid (Art I Fancy: Kelly Packer, Part I)

I bought a print on Etsy a couple of years ago that I haven't tired of one single day. And (for a good reason, that I'll mention later) I realized the world just has to know about this artist. Back to my art for a second. Spot it on my bookshelf?

Kelly Packer's "St. Billy on My Birthday" - via ME! (Dwell & Tell)
There he is. Hello, handsome.
Kelly Packer's "St. Billy on My Birthday" - via ME! (Dwell & Tell)
Introducing: St. Billy on My Birthday, by Kelly Packer. I rarely call him "Billy" or short-hand the name. Quite surprising to some of you, who know that I have a habit of either making words longer, or making them shorter. Because I own the English language. Or something. The phrase "St. Billy On My Birthday" just feels good on my tongue. And (even better) St. Billy on My Birthday feels wonderful on my eyes.
Kelly Packer's "St. Billy on My Birthday" - via ME! (Dwell & Tell)
So, I was recently scrolling through some favorites I bookmarked on Etsy. There are too many empty walls in our home. And it's driving me crazy. So when I saw this saved item... 

Brigid, by Kelly Packer
...I just had to have her. I love how Kelly uses color (colors I'm immediately drawn to: magenta, teal, yellow, brown... Brigid just wouldn't seem the same without her teal leg. 

Look what I found in the mail today?

 I bought her for a spot in our living room, but our bedroom loves these colors too. So we shall see!  

Part 2 will feature a few of my favorites from Kelly Packer.

Are there any colors that particularly appeal to you when looking for art? Or any features that appeal to you when looking for art ? Have you purchased anything recently? Any advice for some that are looking?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Artsy + Barfsy (2 Estate Sale Finds!)

Are you an estate sale shopper? I've been to a few, but honestly haven't found a lot of luck with them. They're either too pricey or they don't have anything I'm looking for. Plus, if you're a serious estate sale person you wake up at 6AM to get the goods. But I'm not willing to do that. So there.

But recently, on my route to work, I saw an estate sale. I convinced two colleagues (aka partners in crime) to go with me over lunch and I found a couple pieces of "art".

Primarily, this great solid print. I loved the muted colors, the "regal" frame and matting. It's kinda' Restoration-Hardware-looking, don't you think? For those of you that are interested in the details, it's a sketch of a castle in Siena, Italy./

Sorry for the sub-par iPhone pics...

Check out that triple-picture-matting action. Word up.

Also bought a new plant. This little corner has always been asking for one, but it doesn't get great light. So when I saw this at Home Depot with the specification that it can be happy in low-light, I grabbed it up1 It's grown a lot recently! A couple of new "shoots" have grown since this photo was taken. But you get the idea. :)

As much as I love this completely legit piece... I have another. A better prize....


I. Could. Not. Let. This. Weirdo. Go. We found her and found ourselves laughing so hard tears were rolling down our cheeks. I realized this had to be mine and bought her for my office at work. She's really more stunning/scary in person, I promise you. Please notice the (1) Smile (2) Smile, again. Cause it's awesome (3) Pretty neck, pretty back (4) Also, I love her. She is a wreck but I love her.

Pssssst. To my friends whose family photos are in this image. You are welcome.

Find anything good recently at an Estate Sale or Yard Sale? Or new piece or wall art?  Use some green for some green (ha-hem, "buy a plant")? What are you hunting for?

Monday, July 9, 2012

I Love Thrifting Day in Alabama - 2012 Recap!

I was proud to host a party for Alabama to be represented in this national "event" on Saturday! I Love Thrifting Day was the brain-child of Mr. Goodwill Hunting, Rashon Carraway. Rashon is an incredibly talented blogger and has even been featured several times on the Nate Berkus Show!  His segments are hands-down some of my favorites on the show.

I know there were several of you who wanted to come out but were on vacation as it was the week of Independence Day, but we still had a nice turn-out and had so much fun! Ready for a recap?

We started out at Goodwill in Homewood, Alabama in the morning. One of my favorite thrift stores!

My awesome mother-in-law has incredible taste, and found this adorable bamboo chair for $15. It folds up for easy storage, so she's going to use this when she has extra guests and has the option to store it in a closet if she wants.

I spotted this lamp and it looked just like something my friend Lindsay would like. She scooped it up for $3.09! We're planning to paint it a fun color for her kitchen!

It was so good to see Susie again, who I met last year. She is 9 months pregnant but still came out in this heat to enjoy the day with us!
(L to R: Susie's sweet mom, Susie, me)
We found this brand-new kitchen table and chairs for $125 (originally from Target).  As you can see below, everyone pitched in to help Lindsay decide if it was right for her. What great team-work (a real advantage of I Love Thrifting Day!).

Next, we headed right down the street to the Salvation Army Thrift Store in Homewood.  It's less than 1/2-mile down the road so it was an easy choice to make. :) Also, my mom scored some jaw-dropping pieces during I Love Thrifting Day last year. So why not try it for our event again?

MIL found this awesome print (it's soooo good lookin' in person) that we think is an oriental watercolor print of women washing clothes. She thought it would be perfect for her laundry room. $5 or so. Done, suckahs! :)
#ilovethrifting I Love Thrifting 2012 - Birmingham, Alabama
Another great art find from my Mom!
#ilovethrifting I Love Thrifting 2012 - Birmingham, Alabama
And a little piece that Lindsay decided to pass up... :) It's nice to take time to apprecite the random objects found only here. Like a ceramic pig with eight huge, suckling teats.
#ilovethrifting I Love Thrifting 2012 - Birmingham, Alabama 
Our group at Salvation Army (a couple more would join us later) :)

We found some other great things too... a Christmas cookie dish (super-classy), a kleenex cover (again, super-classy), and Susie's mom found some preeeeecious clothes for her toddler grand-son. I should have gotten some photos of those.

Nexxxttt.... MEXICAN FOOD! We had a fun lunch at a local place right down the road.

Then we headed to Mission Possible Bargain Center in Homewood. It's so wonderful how close these places are to each other. Lindsay's fiance and brother joined us here. The more the merrier!
#ilovethrifting I Love Thrifting 2012 - Birmingham, Alabama
Susie shopping in the front of the store...

Look what I found! I kinda-kitschy little lamp with a map lamp-shade for $4.99. The base is peeling paint and the map is even peeling off the sade, but with some help it could fit perfectly in our guest bedroom/office (details on that coming soon).
#ilovethrifting I Love Thrifting 2012 - Birmingham, Alabama

Such a great party. We had a great I Love Thrifting Day in Birmingham, Alabama!

My favorite things about the day. 

- Shopping with sweet people that have similar interests, and amazing personalities.
- Learning from the group. And finding more!
One of my favorite things about I Love Thrifting Day is that you seem to find more because you have everyone keeping their eyes peeled for a piece with potential.They might spot something, but it's not right for them. So they make sure someone else leaves with the deal!
- Great deals on great pieces! Duh. Right? :)

Remember to follow the recaps on your social networks with the hashtag #ilovethrifting.

Find anything recently on a trip to the thrift store or a yard sale? Did you participate in I Love Thrifting Day in any part of the country? In Alabama? I want to hear from you!