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"Happy Spring" Vignette: A Crappy How-To

Isn't this precious? I'd like to say it was an easy 1-2-3 process , but it was, in fact, more of a 47-step process. That doesn't mean it wasn't worth the time, but boy, it sure took a lot of it. Personally, I steer clear of anything that promises to be easy or fast. Sure, you can create a website in 15 minutes, but unless you're a professional website wizard or an actual wizard, a 15-minute website will look like you made a website in 15 minutes.

I wanted to make something that resembled these ornate and charming styles I admire and occasionally aspire to try and copy (yes--copy):

I started with the background. I needed to make a delightful, pastoral scene in which the viewer would like to place themself... An idyllic vignette where you might imagine strolling barefoot in the cool greenness of a spring day, the heady scent of wildflowers wafting up your nose. Catching a glimpse of a lone figure on the horizon, you realize it is your lover returning from battle. You start walking towards him, then run, and he towards you, which takes longer, he's got a limp...

I cut some watercolor paper, then rolled and crinkled the edges.

I made a solution of water and all colors of ink to give it that "aged" look.

(I really don't know what I'm doing at this point.)

I painted the pastoral scene:

My small studio, which mostly looks like this, but without the unpastoral chain-link fencing, the neighbor's ancient cement mixer, meat smoker and upturned fishing boat, the other neighbor's

old RV, trailers and assorted rusted-out and abandoned automobiles.

Flowers! Essential to any spring theme.

Now these ARE easy to make: paint some paper, add some details, cut!

Folding the petals inward a bit gives them some dimension.

Don't forget the leaves!

Make the banner.

It was tricky to shape it how I wanted, but I just kept annoying it and eventually, it did my bidding.

If only this worked with humans.

I cut branches from foam core (cardboard would work fine, too) and painted them to look like branches. I ended up using just this one branch and later lightened it up with some white highlights. It was looking too Halloweeny.

Some loose birds...

TIP: Never set your beverage too close to your water bucket!

These are fake birds you can just go out and buy! Aren't they cute little sons of bitches?

I positioned them on the branch.

I don't have a photo of me cutting tiny berets out of felt, but I cut tiny berets out of felt. One round piece plus the little "stem" on top.

I made two tiny paintbrushes from a wooden skewer and painted them with a tiny paintbrush to resemble tiny paintbrushes.

I tried many different backgrounds: wallpaper (featured), fabric, grass, mat board, patterned paper, the studio floor, wooden plank...

Then I put everything together, posing and positioning all the pieces in different ways, and took dozens of pictures. The finished piece is roughly 9 inches wide and 15-16 inches high.

Really, the photographing was the hardest part for me. Everything would look great through the viewfinder, but on the computer, there was always something out of focus.

Okay, photographers, it's not THAT funny.

Some other versions and variations...

I did employ some magical computer effects with Pixlr-o-matic (I think I tried every dang thing they offer) to give it that old-timey look or anything that might disguise my inferior photography.

Happy Spring!

(I can't wait until Halloween...)

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