I've been feeling frustrated at working a full time job while also trying to put in full time hours as an artist. It pains me to know the eight hours I spend each day in a cubicle could be spent painting, writing, or exploring in nature with a camera and a sketchbook. It takes all my strength to not let the surrounding gray walls steal my energy or positivity. Some days it really feels like I'm suffocating - but I'm remembering (some days kicking and screaming) life gives us what we need to grow — not necessarily what we want — and for that I'm thankful.
To keep my mindset in a healthy place, I start each morning by walking to work. I live two and a half miles away which is exactly enough time to rid my anxious thoughts and let the morning rising sun speak stillness into my heart. I mean come on, how could I complain about this daily view?
I've also been realizing I don't have to wait until I get home to start my creative process. In fact, that is just plain absurd. Creativity can flow through every thought and action throughout the day no matter the situation if looking through the right filter.
This week I started collecting feathers on my morning walks. I can't believe how many feathers I had been passing every day without even noticing. The more feathers I collected, the more I noticed them. I find at least five to ten each day and just place them in a zip lock bag I've been storing in my purse. The whole week I have been building excitement on my walks thinking about what I can do with all these feathers!
So what did I do with all the feathers from my week's walk? Well I'm so glad you asked! I made a piece of wall art. Take a peek below for the final product as well as my step by step guide if you would like to make your own.
- Thick paper (I used watercolor paper)
- A frame (smaller size than your paper)
- Cutting board (or just a piece of cardboard)
- Ruler or Yardstick (depending on the size of your piece)
- Razor Blade Knife
- Painter's tape
- Acrylic Paint
- A kitty cat assistant (optional but highly recommended)
Measure and Cut your paper to fit your frame
Pick your favorite feathers and line them in a row from tallest to shortest. Pick out any feathers that don't quite seem to fit or are too weathered. Count the total amount of feathers you have left. This is how many rectangular boxes you will need to make. I ended up with twelve.
Draw your rectangular boxes in light pencil leaving about a 1/8 - 1/4 inch space between each. For my example I have twelve sections each measuring 1.5 inches wide and 9 inches tall.
Next, divide each rectangle (except the farthest left) with a horizontal line accompanied by a 1/8-1/4 inch space again. I incremented by 1/2 inch starting from the top. For example, my horizontal line in box two was 1/2 inch from the top, my horizontal line in box three was 1 inch from the top, box four 1.5 inches from the top, and so on.
- Now that you have your basic template, the next step is to add paint! You can really add whatever colors you want, but I'll share my technique below. I chose to stick with cooler hues on the bottom and warmer colors up top. Below is my color mixing guide to achieve the colors in my post. I also included a guided for the more visual learners like myself. To help stay in the lines, I added painter tape around the box I was painting in and gently peeled it off once the paint had dried. If a little paint bleeds through the tape no big deal, it just adds a special touch of uniqueness.
Box A: Mix red + a little yellow + a little white
Box B: Mix red + a little yellow + a little more white
Box C: Mix red + a little yellow + a little more white
Box D - K: Continue with the pattern above
Box 1: Mix blue + a little orange (blue's compliment on the color wheel) together
Box 2: Mix blue + a little more orange + a little white
Box 3: Mix blue + a little more orange + a little more white
Box 4: Mix blue + a little more orange + a little more white
Box 5 - 12: Continue with the pattern above
As you can see, a couple of my colors were a little off in the perfect fade of dark to light but the basic concept is there. In a couple instances I didn't mix enough paint for a rectangle so I did my best to match it or completely paint over the whole rectangle. Don't worry too much about the perfect color theory, just add what feels and looks right to you!
Once the paint is completely dry, place the feathers (tallest to shortest) before gluing them to make sure you know exactly where they're going to go. Carefully add a little super glue to the back of a feather stem (you are going to want to glue one at a time) and immediately and firmly place the feather in the spot you want it to go. You may need to hold the feather in place for several seconds before going on to the next one. This part can get messy if you aren't careful. We all know that feeling of getting super glue stuck to our fingers - it seems impossible to get off!
Now you have your final piece of art. The last step is to frame it. Clean the interior glass of the frame with window cleaner before placing your feather piece inside. Secure the back and then clean the outside of the glass with window cleaner as well. Hang or place the piece in the perfect space and voilà, there you have it!
WATERCOLOR PAPER Similar
CUTTING BOARD Similar
DRAFTING PENCIL by Alvin Drafting & Mab Graves
RAZOR BLADE KNIFE Similar
PAINTER'S TAPE by Scotch
ACRYLIC PAINT This is my absolute favorite paint brand by Golden
PAINTBRUSH This is my favorite reasonably priced brand Princeton