Saturday, December 15, 2012

Christmas Fruits

Food that's FUN to eat is at the top of my list over the holidays. Okay, I'll admit that cookies dominate the list, but these fruity treats are close runner ups. STRAWBERRIES dipped in 'candiquik' (I actually like this better than white chocolate) and green sugar. ORANGE JUICE made fresh from fruits sent to me by a good friend in Florida. The best tasting ones are those with the ugly, brownish peels. I can see why they wouldn't be very marketable in the grocery store, but they sure make great juice!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Christmas Ornaments CERAMIC


This year I'm making ceramic ornaments.1. Newlyweds and a new home are the theme for a special couple. 2. My owl-loving daughter will add this bird to her collection. 3. The TWINS have just arrived! SO happy they are here....'Two Pea's in a Pod' will mark this year as a very special one.

Christmas Cookies

Spumoni (or 'Neopolitan') Cookies

Today...rainy and cold. PERFECT for baking Christmas cookies.
This is a favorite recipe. I'm making these to hand out at a nursing home tomorrow. Lots of fun to make...more fun to eat! Sometimes I keep the green dough white and call 'em Neopolitans!

NOTE: Chill dough overnite

375ยบ         bake 9 minutes

1 Cup Butter
1 ¼ Cup Sugar
1 Egg
1 teas. Vanilla
2 ½ Cups sifted Flour
1 ½ teas. Baking Powder
¼ teas. Salt

a)      ¼ cup chopped maraschino cherries mixed with 1 heaping TBLS. flour
b)      ½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans (green dye optional)
c)      1 melted square unsweetened chocolate

Mix ingredients, divide dough onto three equal parts. Mix each with a, b, c.. Line a loaf pan with aluminum foil large enough to cover bottom, sides and fold over top. Press dough into lined loaf pan one layer at a time. Fold foil over top and chill overnite. Cut lengthwise. Cut the two long pieces into 1/3 “ slices. Place on ungreased cookie sheet and bake in preheated 375 oven for about 9 minutes. Do not overbake.


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Vintage Christmas Cards

It's time to start addressing those Christmas cards! These are a few I've had stashed away for years. I find it interesting that color schemes and design concepts contribute so much to defining an era.

These adorable choir boys are another favorite vintage accent. They add a touch of cheerful nostalgia amidst my nature-inspired holiday decor.

Scarves: Organize.

Love, love, love my scarves. The problem is there are so many of them and they are hard to keep organized. A few days ago I was cleaning out my closet and came up with a solution. I had some old purses that were going in the trash.  I cut the straps off a leather purse. The 15" straps have a sturdy metal ring at either end. I slipped the rings over the pegs on a coat rack hanging in my mud room. I can easily stack more scarves by opening the loop, draping the scarf over the others and replacing the ring back on the peg. Voila! Problem solved.

Monday, November 5, 2012

More TEA anyone?

I was digging through a folder full of photo's I took over the summer but never got around to sorting. I am reminded how much I love teacups and saucers. So delicate, so feminine, so lovely to behold. Gone are the bright hues of summer and the warmth of the sun, but my teacups still smile from their little perch as happy as always.
I made the teacup sconces by painting and collaging on some old style wall candle holders. They look great with some votives glowing from within.

Nature Inspires Art

I'm not surprised that artists are often nature enthusiasts as well. When we observe the world around us we are inspired by the beauty that lies hidden in our midst.
I can always count on nature to provide me with a bounty of photo opportunities. The challenge to create art inspired by my photos is always intriguing. What artistic challenge do these images present for you?

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Yogurt Berry Oatmeal Softies

Yogurt Berry Oatmeal Softies

Rainy autumn days are the perfect time to fill the air with the warm and toasty smell of freshly baked cookies. Cinnamon, cloves and tart dried berries blend together seamlessly when added to the healthful texture that only oatmeal can provide. I use a packaged blend of dried berries which includes blueberries, cherries, raspberries and raisins. I skipped the shortening usually found in Oatmeal cookie recipes and opted for a butter/yogurt combo to provide moisture and a smooth consistency.
These were absolutely delicious!
 The best part is they are light (almost cake-like), but snacking is kept to a minimum!
(most of the time)

Yogurt Berry Oatmeal Soft Cookies

Recipe by The Skillful Bee

                                                                                                                    Preheat oven to 375 
1 cup dried mixed berries
1 cup water
Put berries in water and microwave for 1-2 minutes to allow berries to swell and soften. Drain off all but ¼ cup of the water.

1 stick Butter (1/2 cup)
1 sm. Container (5.3 oz) Plain Nonfat Greek Yogurt
1 ½ cup Sugar
2 Eggs
1 teas. Vanilla
2 ½ cups Flour
1 teas. Baking soda
1 teas. Salt
1 teas. Cinnamon
½ teas. Baking powder
½ teas. Cloves
2 cups Quick Oats
Nuts optional

Optional frosting: 1 cup powdered sugar, 1-2 TBLS. milk,  1/8 teas. vanilla

Mix butter, yogurt and sugar until creamy. Add eggs, then dry ingredients. Add dried fruit with ¼ cup water and mix gently. Spoon 1 ½” mounds onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake in preheated oven at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes until golden. Makes about 40  2 ½” cookies.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Smarties Candy Centerpiece

Baby shower decorating idea's are always fun to explore. My daughter created these soft pastel-colored centerpieces for her sister's baby shower.  She made four of these 18" tall  topiaries using wood dowels
 and styrofoam balls with Smarties glued on them. Gumdrops or M&M's would also make colorful display.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Photoshop filters

Using Photoshop to encourage students to seek new ways to render drawings from a photograph has proven to be a successful strategy in my art room. I have the students take a photo, then we open the image on Photoshop and apply a variety of filters to see how the image looks rendered in diffrent mediums. We discuss the aesthetic properties of different mediums and the overall gestalt of the image. Rustic pictures of nature tend to look good with the fresco filter. Geometric glass shapes may look best with the cutout filter. Students try out various filters until they find a look they like. We print the image and students use the appropriate medium to replicate the image on canvas or special papers.
The original image below was rendered using the conte, colored pencil and cutout filters in Photoshop.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Bookmarks from Children's Book class

Publisher Neal Porter-Author Sandra Jordan-Illustrator Brian Floca

Ballet for Martha...the Making of Appalachian Spring

I just completed a great class on children's book writing and illustration at a local university. The class was short and sweet (3 1/2 weeks)...just perfect for a teacher who loves children's literature but doesn't want to spend the whole summer in a classroom. There were about 40 students and just about all of us were teachers. But only 12 of us were ART teachers. Boy, did we have a great time! While the other students were busy with their essay assignments, we spent our time creating mini works of art inspired by the book illustrators. I chose to create bookmarks to accompany the vast array of books I purchased and had signed by the 11 visiting authors/illustrators. The signed books along with my handmade bookmarks are going to be great Christmas gifts for friends and family that share my passion for children's literature!
I used matboard scraps for the bookmarks. Bookmark size is 2.5 by 9 inches.

I used a variety of techniques to emulate the style of the illustrators. Above: Collage, Watercolor, Graphite and Markers. Below: Colored Pencil, Watercolor and Pen, Acrylic Paint.

I put two coats of Mod Podge on the completed work. Then, to correct the tacky surface Mod Podge is known for, I sprayed the completely dry bookmarks with Krylon Clear Coat. I punched a hole in the top center and added a ribbon loop. On the backside I put information about the book and a photo of myself and the author/illustrator taken during the book signing.

Bookmarks created in the style of the illustrator


Ask anyone in my family and they will tell you I have a bit of an obsession with teacups. It began when I was a child. My mother had a modest collection of about a dozen sets. They were in a built-in china cabinet in our very 50's dining room. I would sneak in and play with them when no one was watching. Seriously.
Now I have my very own collection (vast) of teacups, including mom's originals.
To me, teacups are the embodiment of all things sweet and kind, cheerful and feminine. I'm sure each time I look at them I am subconsciously reminded of my childhood fascination and sense of wonderment.
All photos on this website are the property of The Skillful Bee and should not be reproduced without permission.



Sunday, January 29, 2012

What the heck is 'Pinterest'?

Well...just about the most jam-packed, creativity-boosting website for eye-candy lovers you will ever find!
If you don't have a Pinterest account yet, get one. Then say a temporary 'goodbye' to your friends, lovers, children or anyone else who shares your world, cuz once you start grazing the grounds at Pinterest, you'll be hooked for hours. The profusion of images, with links, that fill the sites never-ending pages are put their by creative souls just like yourself. If someone finds a product or image that's so awesome they just have to share it with the rest of the world they 'pin' the image to the site to a specific category like 'for the home', 'recipes', 'art', or ' for kids'. You browse, you like, you repin to your own boards. Go now...have fun.

Children's Illustration Art Blog

I love children's books and the art that's in them. Finding people who share my passion for children's lit. is not difficult. But finding a blog as entertaining, interesting, funny and well...downright BRILLIANT as this one is very rare. The site is called Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. The author, Jules, writes with a wit and clarity that exceeds the norm. She is a former librarian with a highly refined knack for finding the best quality children's lit. on the market. But what I really love about Jules style is the way she interviews her guests (mostly children's book illustrators). The interview always begins with a cup of virtual coffee to give the reader a chance to get cozy with the surroundings. Fascinating stuff. Lots of images and links to go along with the interview. I am always left feeling inspired. Jules is my blog hero.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Welcome to The Skillful Bee!

A daily dose of creativity is like a hot cup of tea. It stimulates your mind and body, yet provides a necessary level of soothing satisfaction. This blog is for artists, writers, teachers and inventors of ages who are looking for creative ideas and resources.