Food Is Art Too

You may not know this about me, but in addition to traditional arts and computer art, I also love the culinary arts. I can sew a button to save my life but I can cook and paint and use the computer! Anyway, I've been getting back into cooking lately. I can make a decent cake, a really cool fondant covered birthday cake and okay candies but I love making dinner. 

This past week was hubby's birthday so I got to make a pie, which although my other used to own a pie shop, I have never made before. It turned out AMAZING if I do say so myself. The recipe is a family secret so I can't share it but I am going to share the recipes I used to make the stuffed shells and crazy addictive pesto bread we had for birthday dinner!

Stuffed Shells

I found this Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Shell recipe on a great food blog called Fork, Knife, Swoon. The blogger, Laura has some very yummy recipes and beautiful photographs on her blog. You can check it out here. 

These shells are AMAZING! They are creamy and addictive. They are as delicious as any stuffed shells I've ever had at an Italian restaurant. They are a bit time consuming but they will impress whoever you serve them to, believe you me! If you are really committed, make your own pasta sauce. I have 4 kids and was also making the bread and pie so I used Classico but if you have time, make your own.

Just click on Laura's image below to grab the recipe!

Pesto Bread

The highly addictive cheesy, pesto pull-apart bread is from a food blog I have found many, many recipes from called Carlsbad Cravings.  Jen, the creator has countless soulful recipes on her site as well as a link to purchase her book on Amazon.

This bread is so much better than it looks and it looks AMAZEBALLS! My 10-year-old son traded his piece of cherry pie for the last of this bread. My only regret is that I didn't make 2. I only got 3 bites in before my hubby, son and stepdad demolished it! This would be PERFECT for thanksgiving or Christmas on the appetizer table. Just be prepared for it to disappear fast!

Just click on Jen's image below to check out the recipe! 

I would LOVE to hear how your shells and bread turned out! Feel free to comment on this post if you've tried these recipes and I will try to post some recipes each week as I make them.

Forever A Student

      A few years ago, I decided to go back to school to get my degree in graphic art & design. I didn't let motherhood or my chronic illness stand in my way. I did it for my family but also for me. I just graduated in January with a bachelor's degree. That's not the only type of schooling I have gone through over the past few years. I have also been taking online art courses from some amazing artists. These artists are very inspiring with their own books, online art courses, and original artwork for sale. They also are very fun to follow on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest. Since I am often asked how I learned to paint, I thought I'd post about some of the many ways there are out there to learn to create your own artwork. 

     When I started my own digital art company, I decided to further my digital art education by studying graphic design. I did this online through Full Sail University. It is one of many online schools that offer art degrees online. This allowed me to continue working on my business and my usual parenting duties while perusing a degree, and it takes less than 3 years.  You can click on the image below to check out the program I went through for my degree.

     Just as valuable to me was my physical art education perused via online art courses taught by self-made artists/entrepreneurs. The first online art instructor I took courses from was Juliette Crane. I didn't even know what mixed media art was before Juliette. I found her through Pinterest and before I even purchased her course, she answered all my questions through email and helped me find the right supplies. All of the instructors are this open and friendly and support each other and their students. My goal is to eventually teach my own art courses. I am currently working on collecting the right equipment and set up to do some free YouTube videos to get me started. Below you will find some of the online art courses I have taken over the years with short testimonials about them. I highly reccomend all of these instructors and courses for anyone just learning to create mixed media art or even those who have been creating for years.

Above are the two online courses I have taken from Juliette Crane. These courses teach how to create whimsical and unique characters using a variety of art supplies. Juliette has a soothing voice and teaches in a hands-on, extremely unique way. She also incorporates inspiration from her travels and the world around her. Check out her courses HERE.

I first learned from Flora Bowley during a Lifebook 2015 lesson where Flora taught us how to paint abstractly using food, yes food. She is so open and paints freely with no plan in mind. It's very inspiring and she's so intuitive and natural about her art. I recently started purchasing her Studio Diaries lessons a la carte. Each month she has a different theme and core lesson. My favorite so far was about developing your own style. Check out Studio Diaries HERE.

Probably the most influential of the courses I have taken is Lifebook. It's a yearly, year long course where new video & PDF lessons, artist interviews, ATC swaps and more are posted every week. While many lessons are by the creator, Tamara Laporte of Willowing Arts, there are many guest instructors who change each year so you get to learn from dozens of artists which is amazing. Check it out HERE.

Another very inspiring artist to learn from is Mindy Lacefield. My style is just naturally closest to hers. Even before I had seen any of her art, my art resembled hers in it's whimsical, raw style. She introduced me to Target's Handmade Modern paints which I love and taught me how to be more loose and primitive with my art. Check out her classes HERE.

I have taken a few courses from Alisa Burke who I learned about from Life Book. Her courses are the most economical compared to her peers and she uses affordable art supplies and found objects to make art. She's a huge fan of "work with what you've got." I learned some great background techniques and how to make unique marks from Alisa. Check her out HERE.

While I can't always afford most of the amazing $100+ courses I come across, some of these same artists also have written books which go for under $20 on Amazon and are just as inspiring as the online courses. Above are my 2 favorite, Beautiful Faces by Jane Davenport and Creative Girl by Danielle Donaldson. Click on either to find it on Amazon.

In addition to all of the paid art courses available online, there are also thousands of free YouTube videos on all types of art. Just do a quick search and you will be immersed in inspiration. However, my favorite way to get some quick inspiration is Pinterest. I have boards for everything from cooking to kid's party ideas but most of my pins are dedicated to art. Check out my Pinterest page HERE.

I hope that this post has been helpful at inspiring you to get back out there and learn. No matter if you want to learn to paint or carpentry, there's always many ways to learn from YouTube to a Bachelor's degree. I will never stop taking courses and wanting to learn.

Painting While Pregnant

Let me preface by saying that I was not an active artist while pregnant with my first 3 children. Now, I find myself pregnant with my 4th and trying to find the time and energy to keep up my mixed media art. Not only that, but I'm finding that many art supplies aren't safe to work with while pregnant. 

A few weeks ago I was testing out all of my pens and markers to take inventory and throw away the old ones, make a list of ones to be replaced etc. I grabbed a large blue Krink marker I hadn't used in a while. It leaked all over the floor, the paper, the desk and a little on my hands. It also smelled awful. Smelling it, hubby came running in and I got a nice lecture about reading all labels before using art supplies. Yes, I should have known better and now you bet your ass I ready every label. The blue stain is still on the floor. Hubby bought me some paper masks from the hardware store and I'm sticking to basic acrylics, water based mediums, regular pens etc. I have avoided certain supplies such as spray paints, spray adhesives, industrial strength glue and unfortunately my fixatives which I miss already. 

 I thought by eating right, avoiding any alcohol, too much caffeine and all the no no foods that I had it down especially by baby #4. But this goes to show you that you have to read the labels with pregnancy or any health concerns. It seems like a DUH but we don't always think these through the way we should. But that doesn't mean I can't create, responsibly. Here are some little pieces of art I've been creating to go in my Etsy shop. If you're interested in purchasing any of them, just email me at amber@craftybuttondesign.com.