How to Watercolor


Greetings! Today we are going to share what attendees of April's Craft Cabinet were able to create using Brenda Ponnay's watercolor technique. It's the same technique she uses to teach children, so you know it's going to be easy to understand and not terribly difficult to master. The toughest part is relaxing enough to let go of your urge to do everything perfect. I know in my case, the older I get the harder it is for me to be creative without over-thinking everything. As a child I was artistic and drew well--these days I need a ruler to draw a line. Don't be like that. Have fun!

The technique is Brenda's so in order to get the details you will have to visit her blog. It's worth it. Over here, we'll share that we used very basic supplies from Michael's. Those 38-cake watercolor trays were $4.99 and a great beginner's product. The paint did dry a little chalky, so if you like to mix media and draw over your watercolor with ink, expect a little drag, but nothing that will have you pulling your hair in frustration.

Brenda taught us how to create texture in watercolor--you can see it here in the gray paint--by adding salt. It's a great technique that she goes into detail here.

Amazing work for people who have never watercolored before, right? You can learn all about Brenda's technique here and you can read her recap of the Craft Cabinet here.

Thank you so much, Brenda! You were amazing!

The Craft Cabinet | April 2013 | Watercolor!


This month's Craft Cabinet went really well--especially the decor. It all came out so pretty and delicate, just like you imagine a watercolor to be. Because we are on a shoestring budget, we look for ways to stretch our dollars but still have a high impact. Here's how we did it this time around.

First, location was key. We knew we wanted to support an independent business--preferably one that belongs to someone we know--with a beautiful, artsy vibe. Not intimidating beautiful-artsy, though. We wanted it to be friendly and interesting, and there is nowhere better for friendly, interesting,  beautiful, and artsy than Oh Hello Friend in downtown Fullerton. If you are looking for a unique gift for someone, or for yourself, you have to stop by Danni's shop.

You guys, it was (and is) so beautiful Andrea and I almost felt guilty. We showed up an hour before the party started and brought exactly zero additional decorations. Everything you've seen here and on Instagram--the twinkle lights, the vintage maps, the music scrolls, the baskets, the ephemera...everything--is all thanks to Danni's incredible eye. All we did is decorate the tables.

And the tables didn't turn out half-bad. We loved them. Andrea bought an enormous roll of Kraft paper for our first Craft Cabinet last August. It's so big that we will be using it for years! For every party so far we have used my simple white linens over rented tables. Over top we've rolled out Andrea's Kraft paper so that people can craft without freaking out. No one wants to craft and eat over pristine white linens. It's stressful! The linens hide the ugly rental tables (we always use someone local) and the Kraft paper protects and preserves our goal for a casual atmosphere.

We were going to drive to the LA Flower Mart for flowers, but after crunching the numbers, any money we saved would be lost to time and gas. Instead, Andrea bought three bunches of flowers and a few small plants from Trader Joe's.. She supplemented with flowers cut from her garden and neighborhood.

Last time we had all the swag bags (honestly? I hate that phrase) in a pretty pile in the corner. This time, because we were going to use some of the contributed items, we placed them in front of every seat. We worried it would look cluttered, but it didn't. It helped that both the bags and the table top were Kraft paper.

We saved money by making our  necessary items part of the decor. The flowers and plants acted as still-lifes. The swag bags were quasi-table settings. The paints, brushes, ramekins full of water, and paper added texture and color.

This time around we were smarter than the last time in terms of purchases, budget, and predicting what we needed. We still made mistakes. I imagine next time we'll be even more efficient, but overall, we are so pleased with how everything looked.

Tomorrow we'll share Brenda's watercolor technique, which our kids have already used!


Radio silence officially over! We are back and ready to return to the land of creative blogging after hosting our first official Craft Cabinet event last Friday, April 12th. Brenda Ponnay taught watercolor at Danni's amazing storefront in downtown Fullerton and whew! It was worth the work. Next week we will share all the details: food, decor, watercolor techniques, and our stuffed-to-capacity swag bags. 

But first, some news!

The watercolor class may have been our first official Craft Cabinet, but last August Andrea and I put one together on the spur of the moment. We had so much fun that we decided to do them regularly, and here we are today. News of our crafting party reached the editors at Mingle Magazine and hello! they interviewed us for a feature. The issue is available anywhere Stampington magazines are sold, so Michaels, Barnes & Noble, and other stores focused on arts and crafts. It took me two days to read the article, and I only read it because Andrea wouldn't tell me what it said and my husband was out of town so he couldn't read it for me. I was so nervous!

I finally had to read the feature myself since Andrea refused to cater to my neuroses, and it was great. We are thrilled that so many of our first attendees show up in all the pictures the very talented Mary took for us that night.

We have so much in store for the upcoming year. Thanks for being so supportive from the very beginning, and we hope to see you at the next Craft Cabinet! You can read the Mingle feature here.

The Language of Flowers: The Find


Thank you for such an enthusiastic response to our April watercoloring event! We sold out in 48 hours and couldn't be more excited to meet all of you in just a couple of weeks!

I know a few people were shocked tickets went that fast (quite frankly, we were some of those few people). Yes, we are keeping the parties small. For now, it's what works as we figure out how to balance blogging with family life. Also, we're hesitant to make the parties too big. That's when things can get cliquey and not everyone has a chance to meet and the whole spirit of what we're trying to create is lost inside a high-ceiling convention hall with cheap chicken and sponge cake. So we've heard.

We do have a waiting list going in the event some space opens up. If you would like to be put on the list, please email us with the subject Waiting List.  

Next week we'll be pretty quite around here. All our kids are on spring break, and in the spirit of creative, balanced living, we're going to hang out with them. Have a great one, friends!

The Language Of Flowers: The Look

The same day we decided on watercolors for the theme of our April event, a friend sent me the link to this dress.  She knows my love of light as air maxi dresses knows no bounds and thought of me when she saw it.  I would say she was spot on.  When I imagine the delicateness of watercolor florals, this is what I imagine.  Wispy, airy, ethereal and translucent.  I've scoured the web for the last 2 hours looking for something that could compare, or at least hold court with this dress, but really none could compete. 

And wouldn't you know, this dress is now on sale.  I think it was most certainly meant to be.  If you see me wearing this at the April Craft Cabinet event, don't say I didn't warn you.

Inspired By: The Language Of Flowers

Inspiration is a funny thing.  Sometimes it comes to you out of the blue, sometimes it takes months to be inspired into action, and sometimes you don't know which idea inspired which action.  That is the case when we were brainstorming for our first instructor led session.  Someone mentioned watercolors, then I thought of florals, which led me to think of this book I read last summer, The Language Of Flowers, which then sealed the deal on our first theme for our relaunch.
As I said, I read this book last summer when I was waiting to give birth to my third child.  It was an emotional time for me and I remember feeling so moved by it, and also being to so vividly see the flower arrangements the character in the book weaved together.  Perhaps it was super heightened pregnancy senses.  For those of you who haven't read the book, the character Victoria comes from a troubled past growing up in the foster care system, and uses the old Victorian era language of flowers to convey messages in her bouquets.  A somewhat wild character, I imagined her arrangements to reflect her personality; wild, free, without complete order and structure, but truly organic in makeup and design.

Exactly the type of flower arrangements Amy Merrick puts together.  Her arrangements are other-worldly, like something I've never seen.  Completely free, made up of flowers you don't find in the flower shop, but find along the road or behind an abandoned barn. 
Or if they do contain recognizable flowers, they are arranged in way that makes them look like they weren't arranged at all.  Like a little girl picked the loveliest flowers she could find and bunched them together as a gift for her mother.
For me, when I imagine watercolor florals, this is what I see.  This is what I would love to create and hang in my home.  For others it may look more tropical, or less wild and more structured.  That's the beauty of inspiration, it is driven by our own experiences and images floating around in our head.
We hope you join us on April 12th where you'll learn a bit about watercolor technique, and perhaps create your own bouquet of wild flowers on paper.  Bring your inspiration with you, whatever it may be.  Visit our Schedule page to purchase your ticket. 

*All floral images from famed floral artist Amy Merrick.  If you have a chance check out her site and blog for more lovely and inspiring images. 

Introducing Brenda Ponnay!

Thank you so much for such a warm reception to our next Craft Cabinet event! Tickets are going faster than we anticipated, so we encourage you to snap some up if you can. It's great value, especially when you hear a little bit about Ms. Brenda Ponnay--the crafty woman who will be teaching you the art of water color.

You may know Brenda as the blogger behind Secret Agent Josephine, the blog Babble lists as one of the Top 100 mom blogs on the web, but she is also a graphic designer-turned-illustrator with 20 years experience, a children's book author of 14 books, and a regular writer for The Shiksa and Alpha+Mom.

And she's a mom. Because, you know, she was looking to fill some time.

Here is some more about Brenda in her own words.

I am a mom and I'm all about enjoying the moment and not getting too caught up in being perfect. Life is short. We should make big messes and enjoy the process. I've found that what makes me truly happy is being creative every day. 

Whether that means rearranging my house a zillion times, painting walls turquoise, cutting up refrigerator boxes into castles for the best kid's party ever or just plugging away at what I do every day which is make logos and web banners and graphics...I find that I'm most successful when I can envision a project or a brand or a photo shoot and then make that happen step by step.
sheesh! I'm so over myself now.

She's also incredibly humble, in case you didn't pick that up. You're going to love her.

Don't be intimidated by water color, especially if you have zero artistic talent or ability like some people who may or may not be writing this post. According to Brenda, water color is a forgiving technique, especially when you limit your palette of colors. Forgiving enough for Brenda's daughter a few years ago, so, if a preschooler can do it, we can. And even if we can't (speaking to myself right now) the plan is to have fun meeting people and hanging out, because that's what the Craft Cabinet is really about. Becoming the next world renown water color artist is a bonus.

warm spring afternoon together hibiscus it feels right to be painting hibiscus pointing
You can buy tickets for the April 12 water color event with Brenda Ponnay by visiting this link. We can't wait to see you there!

All images by Brenda Ponnay