Painting On A FREE Canvas – Tips, Tricks, And Fun Ideas For Painting On Rocks

By Nicole Tinkham


Did you perk up when you heard the word “free”? We also love a great deal especially when quality supplies may not always be in the budget. But as artists we’re able to get creative with what is already available to us. One type of artwork that we are totally in love with these days is rock art. That’s right, painting and creating on found rocks out in nature. This isn’t just a children’s craft (although it could be!) but is also perfect for any artist and we’ll tell you why. Read on to discover our favorite tips, tricks, and ideas for painting on rocks.

First off, let us explain why, out of all things, we love creating on rocks..

1.    Perfect project for all skill levels and ages.

2.    Unique shapes and textures produce different creations every time.

3.    The unique shapes can also spark your creativity and give you new fun ideas.

4.    You aren’t limited to painting. You can also use markers and collage materials.

5.    They’re useful (we’ll explain the different uses of rock art later).

6.    They’re FREE! And even if you do pick up a rock from the store, you won’t be spending an arm and a leg on it.

7.    There’s no pressure for perfection. The rock itself is imperfect 🙂

What you can paint on rocks: ANYTHING! Here are a few ideas.

•    Faces
•    Animals
•    Abstract designs
•    Motivational messages
•    Landscapes
•    People
•    Solid colors
•    Flowers
•    Patterns
•    Zentangle

Let’s get started! Here’s the how-to for rock painting:

Step #1: Choose your rock. If you have a particular idea in mind, you may have to find the perfect size and shape for that idea. But you could also leave it open for ideas after you choose your rock. A smooth surface will make your life easier.

Step #2: Clean off your rock. Soap and warm water will do the trick but you can also use an old toothbrush to do some additional scrubbing. Dry it off before you get started on your project.

Step #3: Sand down any rough patches to make painting easier. If you chose a very smooth rock, you won’t have to worry about this step.

Step #4: Draw your design. You can practice drawing out your design on a piece of paper first if you want. Use a pencil or chalk for making marks on your rock before painting.

Step #5: Now you can begin painting. We suggest working from the largest areas down to the finer details. Just remember to let each layer dry before moving onto the next one.

Step #6: Sealing your design. You can use Mod Podge to seal your painting to keep it lasting long.

What to do with your rock once you have it complete

•    Use it as a paperweight
•    Decorate your garden
•    Give it as a gift
•    Frame it (Yes, this is possible. Just ask our framer Mark for ideas!)
•    Use them as holiday decorations
•    Turn them into magnets
•    Make it your pet rock 🙂
•    Sell your rock creations

When it comes to rock painting, the ideas are endless. You don’t even have to use paint! Grab some fun colored Sharpies and doodle away. Use this as a way to relieve your stress. Most of the time (depending on how detailed your project is), rock art is a quick project that you can use your creative mind on without putting too much pressure on yourself. It’s a fun way to get the creative juices flowing. Whenever you find yourself in a rut, refer back to this blog for helpful tips, tricks and ideas for painting on rocks.

Do you have any experience with rock art? Please comment below and tell us about your creations!

8 Fun Ways To Celebrate Valentines Day (For Artists)

By Nicole Tinkham


We love celebrating all holidays because it’s an excuse to get creative and make gifts!! The big holidays may be over but we get just as excited over Valentine’s Day and we have some really clever ideas for you. If you aren’t too pumped up about it this year, you have got to read these 8 fun ways to celebrate the day of love. We wrote this list with the artist in mind so open up to the creative possibilities and choose to do something special this year.

1.    Handmade cards

Grab some fun paper, stamps, glitter, buttons, colorful pens, and your creative mind. Show some love to the ones you care about in a handmade card, one that won’t immediately get thrown out! These mean so much more than store bought cards. Put the time, effort and thought into it and make it really special for the recipient.

2.    Homemade sweet treats

Bring your creative skills into the kitchen and bake up some fun and yummy treats. Cookies and cakes are always fun to decorate. Package them up in festive containers and bags to make a nice gift for your friends. Or you can serve them on heart shaped plates and bowls for your dinner party (see below).

3.    Themed dinner with friends

Valentine decorations, creative invitations, sweet treats, fun games, great friends, and lots of love and fun times. We love themed dinners and parties with friends! There are so many different ways you can use your artistic skills and who doesn’t love getting together with friends over food?

4.    Crafty Party

Here’s another party idea. We mentioned how to host a crafty party in a previous blog post and any holiday is a great excuse to host one. Think up some different Valentine’s craft ideas and get creative with your artsy friends.

5.    Handmade jewelry

Jewelry is a great Valentine’s gift but it’s so often overdone. One way to put your own twist on it is to create your own jewelry. Even if you’ve never gotten into jewelry making, there are super simple patterns anyone can pick up (just Google it!). Once again, anything handmade has more meaning behind it than store bought 🙂

6.    Notes of appreciation

Remind someone how much they mean to you by writing a thoughtful note. Let them know how much you appreciate their friendship and all that they do for you. This note can go right into your handmade card or you can leave them little Post-it Note surprises. Remember, it’s your words that matter!

7.    Framed memories

We admit, after seeing the incredible projects our professional framer Mark creates, we’re just a little obsessed with framed gifts. There are so many different things you can do. Of course, a framed painting or photo make excellent gifts but think outside the box and consider these other framed ideas.

8.    Learn together

Quality time together is another great gift and we think the best way to do that is by taking a class together. You can learn something new, spend the day with friends, practice your art and improve your skills. If you don’t go together, the gift of a workshop is always a thoughtful idea too.

Forget the romantic dinner, aren’t these 8 fun ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day so much more fun? You get to spend time with your closest friends, create, give, and just enjoy yourself. You don’t have to do much but we do want you to have fun. That’s the most important part! Tell us, which one of these 8 ideas will you be trying this year?

21 Unique Fall Craft Ideas That Aren’t Wreaths

By Nicole Tinkham


While we absolutely love a beautiful fall wreath, we feel like it’s the typical craft to do this time of year. Plus once you have made a wreath, you usually don’t need another unless you’re giving it away to someone else. Regardless, we wanted to bring to you a list (of 21 to be exact) of different ways you can get crafty this fall season doing something other than the usual wreaths.

1.    Mason Jar Crafts

There is so much you can do with mason jars from food storage to decorating. They are an inexpensive way to decorate your home for the holidays and we love these super easy ideas!

•    Paint them in fun fall colors and use them as vases for autumn flowers.

•    Mod Podge some fake leaves around the outside and put a small candle inside the jar.

•    Turn them into something useful like utensil holders for your Thanksgiving dinner or a pencil cup (for writing all the things you’re thankful for). Simply paint the outside of the jar in fall colors and you can even paint a saying like “Give Thanks” to make it more festive.

•    We love Fairy Lights used in mason jars and you can get creative with what else you put in there too.

•    Fill them up with something colorful like candy corn or corn kernels.

•    A pretty autumn ribbon may be all you need. Just tie it around the top of the jar and put a small candle inside.

2.    Fun with leaves

When we think autumn, we think LEAVES! And lots of them depending on where you live. Here are some of our favorite ways to use them in crafts.

•    Wall art – You don’t even have to be an artist to pull this one off! Grab a canvas, lay some leaves on top in an eye pleasing composition, and spray paint over the entire canvas. When the leaves are removed, it will leave the silhouette of the leaves.

•    Create a fall banner with found leaves in your backyard. Use a string, clothes pins, and the best leaves you can find. Hint: These look really nice hung on the mantel.

•    Leaf prints – Find fun shaped leaves, paint one side with acrylic paint in fall colors, and press it onto a sheet of paper. You can then put the print in a frame and hang it up as your fall decorations.

•    Paint leaves – Gather a bunch of leaves from your backyard and get creative with them. You can paint dots, lines, or whatever you want. You can even use an ultrafine Sharpie and doodle right on them. These would make a great centerpiece if you put them all in a basket.

•    Easy leaf stained glass – Grab a nice variety of different leaves, place them on a piece of wax paper (arranging them how you want on half the sheet), fold the other half of the wax paper over the leaves, and placing a towel over top, iron over the project until the paper sticks. You can then create a frame with construction paper and hang the final piece in your window.

3.    Card Making

It doesn’t have to be Christmas to send out gifts and cards! In fact, shouldn’t we focus on giving thanks more so this month than any other? Don’t just go out and buy a card though. Get creative and make your own! Here are a few of our best tips when it comes to card making:

•    Keep an eye out for the perfect paper. Looks for color, texture, and patterns that speak to you.

•    Work in layers of paper cutouts for added dimension.

•    Start a collection of rubber art stamps. You really can’t have too many!

•    Be personable – really think about what the recipient would appreciate.

•    Think outside the box. Not all cards have to be a specific size or shape.

•    Embellish like crazy and just have fun with it.

4.    Fall pumpkins

Pumpkin decorating is not just for Halloween! You can do fun pumpkin crafts all autumn long. Here are a few of our favorite ideas.

•    Dress it up with ribbons and fall flowers.

•    Write your favorite fall messages on the pumpkin with Sharpie. This works really well on a white pumpkin.

•    Drill holes in the pumpkin forming an interesting pattern and put a candle inside. This allows you to carve the pumpkin without the Halloween vibe.

•    Throw some glitter on them! Simply paint on Mod Podge and stick on some glitter.

We see so many people interested in getting crafty around the fall season and we love it! Since Thanksgiving is right around the corner, we wanted to stress giving. When you’re doing these projects, think about making them for someone else. Once you get into the giving spirit, you’ll want to keep on giving throughout the winter holidays as well.

Tell us, what do you plan to make and give away this fall?

13 Fun Ideas For Hosting A Crafty Party

By Nicole Tinkham

13 Fun Ideas For Hosting A Crafty Party

There may be times you prefer to work on your art alone and that’s perfectly fine, but sometimes being around other super creative people can spark your creativity and get new ideas flowing. A great way to work on some art together is to host a crafty party. We can’t take credit for this idea, though. We’ve actually been inspired by one of our Facebook friends and her creative and fun parties she throws with her girlfriends. She always has a theme and decorations, prepares yummy snacks, and has fun creating various projects with close friends. We figured you’d want in on this idea so we came up with a list of 13 fun ideas for hosting a crafty party plus helpful tips to keep in mind for hosting your next one.

1.    Adult coloring book: It DOES NOT have to be a solo activity! We love coloring book parties because anyone can participate at different skill levels.

2.    Holiday themed (think pumpkin carving or holiday card making): These are always a great way to get into the holiday spirit whether it’s Easter, Thanksgiving, or Valentine’s Day.

3.    Cookie decorating: Food decorating can be so much fun to create and even more fun to eat!

4.    DIY terrariums: Creating a terrarium is probably not your typical craft project but we think you’ll really enjoy getting creative with a project like this. A terrarium is basically a mini garden in a cute little glass container. Learn more about how to put them together here.

5.    Jewelry making: Sharing colorful beads and different design ideas is great to do with other creative minds and will help you get out of your comfort zone and try new techniques.

6.    Scrapbooking/art journaling: Scrapbooking together can be so much fun to reminisce on the past especially with friends you’ve known for awhile.

7.    Zentangle: This is the perfect escape with friends after a long and stressful week.

8.    Art supply exchange: Every year we host a Used Stamp Sale here at Keeton’s where artists bring in any art supplies (not just stamps) they are no longer using and sell them. We thought an art supply exchange would be a great party idea too and the perfect opportunity to clean out the art room and get rid of some supplies (just to fill it up again with new ones).

9.    Knitting and crochet: This is great for the chatty Kathy group of friends 🙂

10.    Painting: Have you ever experienced a Painting with a Twist workshop or something similar? You can do the same thing right from home with a group of friends. Look up simple painting instructions, pick up canvases and paint when it’s on sale, and have some fun.

11.    Glass painting: Our friend who inspired us to write this blog also does incredible painting on wine glasses. We are seriously blown away by her work every time we see it. We thought glass painting would also be a really fun party idea for this list.

12.    DIY signs: Painted wooden signs seem to be the DIY project to do these days. They are super simple to create with so many different options, making it a really fun party idea. You can all collaborate to make a sign together too.

13.    Gift swap: We love getting crafty with gifts around the holidays but it doesn’t have to be a special occasion to give. Why not have a craft party and exchange what you make at the end?

Tips for hosting your next crafty party

•    Theme: Creative people and creative parties deserve a creative theme!! It’s not necessary but it makes it way more fun 🙂

•    Fun invitations: We always enjoy going a little old school with handwritten invites to a party. It’s more personable and exciting than an email.

•    Food: Finger foods, appetizers, and sweet treats are perfect for a craft party. You don’t want anything messy that can get all over the projects. But be sure to have plenty of paper towels anyway.

•    Have enough room: Before you start inviting everyone you know to your next craft party, take a look at how much space you have. Do you have a large enough table? Enough chairs?

•    Instructions: Be sure the project you choose to do is simple enough for everyone to understand. Either print out instructions or a guide for everyone to follow or you can act as an instructor yourself.

•    Provide supplies or let them know what to bring: Be clear on what you want people to bring to the party. Will you provide all supplies or will they need to bring their own? If they’ll be bringing their own, be specific on what they need.

Alright, we just threw a bunch at you all at once. Your mind may be going a million miles a minute with all these ideas. One thing we want to make clear is that it’s all about having fun! You don’t necessarily have to put a ton of work into throwing a crafty party and you shouldn’t stress out over it. If you’re not sure which idea to go with, poll your friends and see what they would love to do. You can even have them help you plan it so you don’t have to do it all on your own. And don’t freak out if your first party doesn’t run smoothly. Your friends won’t mind and you’ll know what to do differently next time!

Tell us, have you ever hosted a crafty party? What did you do?

What is quilling and how to get started

By Nicole Tinkham

What is quilling and how to get started Image from Creative Commons by Ipshita B
Are you mesmerized by paper art? If you’re anything like me, you think detailed projects like quilling and many other paper crafts are way over your head. Based on the research I’ve done, quilling just takes a lot of time and patience. With that being said, everything else is actually pretty simple and basic. Very few supplies are needed, creating the basic shapes are simple, and you can even use patterns to help you with the design part. So as long as you have the patience to take on quilling, read on to learn more about the craft and how to get started.

What is quilling?

Quilling is the art of coiling strips of paper to form beautiful designs. While the term “quilling” may be new to your vocabulary (it was for me!), this art form has been around for hundreds of years dating back to the Renaissance. The quilling process hasn’t changed much over the years but the tools and designs have been updated. Many designs are very detailed and some are even in the form of huge installations. Each project can be so unique and that’s what we love about quilling.

The supplies

–    Strips of paper in various colors depending on your design. You can find pre-cut strips at the craft store or you can cut your own using a paper trimmer. We recommend practicing first with ordinary copy paper.

–    Clear glue suitable for paper

–    A tool to help roll the paper (you can purchase one at a craft store or just use a bamboo skewer or toothpick)

If you are purchasing tools from the craft store, you’ll notice two different types: A needle tool and a slotted tool. The slotted option will be easier to work with but may leave a crease in the center of your coil.

–    Tweezers (used for pinching coils to form oval forms)

–    Straight pins (used to hold pieces in place while they dry and to apply glue)

–    Styrofoam board or place to allow work to dry

–    Damp paper towel to keep fingers clean

–    Scissors to trim excess paper

How to begin

There are many shapes that can be created in quilling but we’re going to start with a basic coil. Here’s how it’s done.

1.    Wrap a strip of paper tightly around your quilling tool until you reach the end of the paper.

2.    Release the coil from the tool and let it relax.

3.    Glue the end of the paper to the coil to keep it in place. All it takes is a tiny drop of glue. You can apply glue with the tip of a needle.

There are a TON of other shapes to move forward with:

•    Teardrop
•    Curved teardrop
•    Marquise
•    Double-curved marquise
•    Square
•    Diamond
•    Rectangle
•    Gumdrop
•    Half moon
•    Oval
•    Bunny ear
•    Duck foot
•    Triangle
•    Arrowhead
•    Tight coil

Get the tutorials here!

Other things to consider

The size and length of the paper strips will change the look of your quilled shapes. You can always cut down pre-cut strips to the ideal length.

If you would like to measure your coils, a circle template comes in handy.

Once you have your basic shapes down, it’s time to make something out of them. A great place to start is with greeting cards because you don’t need anything elaborate for them.

Get creative and think outside the box. You can even create quilled earrings!

Once you get the hang of the basics, look into patterns and other resources for inspiration on more advanced pieces.

Quilling takes a lot of PATIENCE! Keep with it and keep practicing to get better at it.

Although the supplies needed and the tutorials mentioned in this blog seem super simple, if you don’t have the time and the patience to sit down and really focus on your project, it’s very easy to become frustrated. Just BREATHE! If you get in the zone and keep your cool, it can actually become quite relaxing. Don’t worry about being perfect especially when first starting out. As with anything, it takes plenty of practice to get the hang of it.
Tell us, have you ever tried quilling? What did you think of it?

5 minute art projects for when you’re short on time

By Nicole Tinkham

5 minute art projects for when you don't have much time
We hear it all the time. You want to get more art time into your daily life but your schedule is so packed that you simply can’t make it happen. It’s unfortunate because this is how you grow as an artist. To get better at anything, you must practice consistently. If you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel at the moment, let us introduce our favorite 5 minute art projects for when you’re short on time.

1.    Zentangle
Zentangle is basically organized doodling. It allows you to clear your mind and completely relax. When you only have 5 minutes, work on a smaller scale. You can use 3”x3” cards and do quick little zentangle designs. It’s super easy to get lost in a zentangle project so you may want to set a timer if you have other things on your agenda.

Learn more about zentangle and how to get started here.

2.    Stamping
Next time you’re in the art supply store, grab a few stamps that jump out to you and ink pads in your favorite colors. When you have a few extra minutes, play around with them. We love making our own greeting cards. It doesn’t take up much of your time and there’s so much to experiment with (like embossing powder). Let your imagination run wild!

3.    Sketching
We encourage ALL ARTISTS to carry around a small sketchbook with them wherever they go. You never know when you’ll gain pockets of time throughout the day when you could be practicing your art. If you’re at work, take a 5 minute break to sketch and clear your mind. Sketch on your morning commute (as long as you’re not the one driving) or 5 minutes before you leave the house in the morning. Once you start actively looking for these segments of time, you’ll realize there are more opportunities than you thought.

4.    Writing
Writing can sometimes seem unrelated to the art we’re normally familiar with but what’s more creative than telling a story? Remember that there are many ways to use your creative mind that don’t involve drawing or painting. If you don’t have a sketchbook (or even if you do), carry around a journal to jot down inspiring thoughts for the day, a story, or some poetry.

5.    Coloring
Have you heard about adult coloring books yet?? They seem to THE hobby to get into these days. We love them because it requires some creativity but you don’t have to put yourself entirely out there if you don’t feel comfortable with your artwork yet. There’s no pressure to finish the page you’re coloring right away if you don’t have time and it’s a great way to escape for a little while.

We only put our artwork on the back burner because we THINK we don’t have time for it. If you’re serious about working on your art every single day, here’s what we want you to do. Write down every single thing you do in a day and how long it takes you to do it. This will open your eyes to where you have some extra time and what you should stop doing or cut back on doing so you can focus on what really matters, your ART!

Tell us, how do you get just a little more art in your daily routine? Let us know in the comments below.

6 Ways to Transform your Craft Room into a Workable Space

By Nicole Tinkham

Let’s take a moment to talk about your craft room. As an artist, this area serves as your sanctuary. It should be a place of peace where creativity can flourish. You should enjoy spending time there. There shouldn’t be any stress in this space whatsoever. And you should get a burst of inspiration every time you walk into it. Now ask yourself this: Does your craft room live up to those standards? If the answer’s no, we’re guessing there’s either an organization or space issue which are typical problems in any work area. Not being able to find the supplies you need or having to rearrange and move things just to make room for a project only holds you back from the creative process. That’s enough to make you not even want to start a new project! What if we told you we could help transform your current craft room into a workable space? An area that you can let the creative juices flow without having to dig through the closet just to find a particular stamp or do half the project on the floor because your table is covered in scraps. Follow these 6 ideas and let the craft room makeover begin!

1.    A good craft table is your number one priority. If you don’t have one and are on a budget, start shopping around at thrift stores, Craigslist, and garage sales. You’re looking for a sturdy (preferably wood or metal) table that’s large enough to allow you to spread out and get projects done. The bigger the table, the more projects you can work on at a time. Just make sure the table fits in the room first. Take measurements before you go shopping! The ideal height for a craft table is about 31” but you can always raise the height of a low table by placing blocks under the legs.

2.    If starting your craft room from scratch, include a sink if possible. It makes cleanup way easier and convenient. But installing a sink is no easy task. If a sink is a no go, be sure to have a container and bucket for dirty water ready to go before beginning a new project.

3.    Do the magnetic strip trick. You know those strips found in the kitchen for hanging knives? Get one of those for the craft room to hang scissors or any other metal tools on it. This keeps them close by so you can grab them when you need to without having to dig through messy drawers. You can also use pegboards to keep your supplies in their place.

4.    Create work zones. The most frustrating thing is not having the space to work on a project. You don’t want to start a project and have to clear everything in the work area to finish it. Wouldn’t it be nice to just move onto the next phase of the project without having to stop and get all different supplies out? Creating zones can help you achieve this but you may have to do some rearranging to determine how to get the most out of the space. For instance, you can have a sewing zone that is totally separate from your painting zone. That way you’re not working all over the place and your supplies have a place to call their own.

5.    Make the most out of your closet. The key to a well organized closet is shelving and bins or chests to store your supplies. Using a curtain instead of doors allows easy access and makes the closet look bigger.

6.    Get organized. When you start rearranging your craft room you’ll begin to realize just how much stuff you really have. At this point, it’s important to get organized before you put everything back in its place. Sometimes those odds & ends can be difficult to store away easily. Luckily we have some tips to help you organize them. Click here for clever hacks that will help you organize just about anything in the craft room.

Remember, it takes work! You can’t just snap your fingers and have your dream craft room before your eyes. There’s a lot of sorting and organizing that goes into this. Take your time and do it right! We bet your craft room transformation will be HUGE if you put these 6 ideas to work. We can’t wait to see how it turns out! Have you recently re-organized or created a craft room? What steps did you take to make your craft room perfect for you? Share your thoughts or photos below or on our Facebook page. We’d love to hear from you!