52 Paintings: Week 6

Rhododendrons by Christy Berry

Rhododendrons by Christy Berry


This week the snow and temperature has been falling so I wanted to bring a little color to the world.  I took a photograph of rhododendrons from the Dow Gardens last summer.  I have wanted to paint this photograph for some time.   And yesterday, I came across it because I wanted to paint something blue.  I used the last of my Persian blue to paint the sky.

The painting is not very large it’s about 2 feet by 1 and ½ feet.   Please enjoy a little bit of summer during the winter.


Mrs. Berry

P.S.  Please let me know what you think.

The Creative/Artistic Process Part 3: Journaling


As a teacher of art I try to keep up my artistic craft and the creative process. I am still trying to define what is the creative process.  To assist with this process, I wrote down my thoughts while painting my latest painting. The thoughts are in a free write association and not edited.

How this could be used in the classroom:

  • As students are working on their artwork they could write down their thoughts and reflections on what they are doing.  This way when students were asked how they created their art; they can look back at their journal and describe their artwork.
  • The writing could also be an assistance in writing a formal artist statement.
  • After the student finishes the writing maybe used as a formal assessment piece.

Journal Entry

October 2, 2012

I’m starting my painting.  The canvas is 20” by 20”.  I am going to use a photograph that I took at the Dow Gardens of a mum.  The photograph was taken around 10am on September 30th, 2012.  I am going to use a 2HB beginners pencil to draw the image.  I’m not sure if I will paint it for it is 8:36pm.  I might get started now.

8:44pm:  What was I thinking?  There are so many petals.  REALLY?  What I was I thinking?  I like the photograph, and this will look cool when it’s done.  But dude?  There are so many petals.  Did I mention this is a mum flower?  Just one, they are so tiny.  Ok, I guess.  I will go back to painting.

9:04pm: Ok, there were lots of petals.  I don’t think I have all of the exact middle ones, but I have the main flowers.  I didn’t include the flowers around the main flower.  Middle is also not exactly in the middle.  It’s close but it’s a little bit off.  I think I like the square canvas.  I have never worked with this shape before.  My background is going to be dark and light green (it’s in the original photograph).  The drawing a good start.

October 3, 2012

8:25 Ok, I have all the paint set.  I Took a picture of the drawing.  Now to add cadmium yellow medium with a Grumbacher 8 brush #4722.

10:05pm Ok, there were bunches of more colors that I added after I painted my base coat on it.  Greens, yellow, white, orange.  But it’s late so now more information.  I guess you will just need to guess what colors I used.  I also used a smaller brush for my painting.  That’s all for tonight; it’s late.

October 4th, 2012

8:02 I’m starting early tonight.  I am going to work on the flower picture after I take a picture of it.  I have the base coat on, now to start making it my own. I am mixing white and cadmium yellow.

9:37pm I added a few more coats.  I started not looking at the petals after the third one. That’s it for now.

October 6, 2012

Mum Flower by Christy Berry

5:40am I’m up early and it’s quiet here, so I will paint.  I am starting with petals.

6:51am There are too many petals. I know that the original photograph that I am working from is different from what I am painting.  I am waiting to put the dew drops on the painting until all of the petals are done and the background is done.

5:33pm  The petals are more yellow.  I need to put another coat of yellow on.

7:55pm  I think I am done.  Now, I will just sit and stare at it and then figure out if there is any more paint that is needed.  So this painting took 376 minutes roughly or 6 hours and 16 minutes.  I’m not sure if I am done yet.

Christy Berry Mum Flower painting on the Dow Gardens’ profile picture

So what did I learn overall about the creative process, you might ask.  Well, how I see the world is different than reality.  I added and subtracted a variety of elements from the original image and made one that fits what I perceive when I look at something.  So what makes this creative is that it is different from the original. What I find particularly cool about this finished piece is that the Dow Gardens used my photograph of my painting on their blog and as part of their website.

Christy Berry Mum Flower painting on the Dow Gardens’ website

Enjoy finding your own images to perceive and create.


Mrs. Berry

D is for Dow Gardens: A Collection of Short Silly Tales


For the final of my writing class I needed to create some sort of writing piece of my choice.  Well, I thought about it, and thought about it, and did a bit more thinking.  I finally came up with an idea.  The story is called D is for Dow Gardens: A Collection of Short Silly Tales by Christy Berry.  I love alphabet books and the Dow Gardens.  I have been working on a series of painting from Dow Gardens.  I’m not done yet, because I want to paint all of the images in the story. But alas, I do not have that much time. The assignment is due in two weeks and paintings take a bit of time.  So, I have included my own photographs in the mix where there are no paintings.

I need to give thanks to the people that helped me put this book together:

  • My husband for ideas and editing
  • My daughters for listening to the stories
  • My good friend Erin for ideas
  • The Dow Garden volunteers and employees for marking an “x” on a map where I needed a letter or two
  • And God for making the trees and flowers.

I will give you a small sneak peek in a page of the story. 

The stories sometimes relate to one another and intertwine. This short story came from when my daughter and I pretended there are trolls under the bridges when we walk over them.

R is for Red Bridges

It be wise to stop and speak with the villagers before traveling through the kingdom.  They know how to tip-toe across bridges, for something big lives under each one.  Now it’s a well-known fact that trolls like the color red and years ago a family of these creatures heard whispers of a kingdom with red bridges.  They promptly packed their bags and moved.  When they arrived they were amazed at how many there were and they each took a bridge.  They were very happy to have found a new home.  Sometimes you will see them with large green waders as they are trying to gobble up their snack of duckweed.  If you meet one pay the proper toll of a greeting and ye shall be allowed to pass.

I have also made a book trailer for my book.  Please enjoy the short trailer below.

If you would like to purchase this book, please contact me.  I have only made one copy but I could make more.  Or, if you know a publisher who is looking for a nifty idea please let me know.  The stories are rather cute; some are short and others longer.

How you could use this in the classroom:

  • Read the stories and find where other stories are the inspiration for different letters.
  • Have your students write their own silly story about a place.
  • Read the story and then visit the actual Dow Gardens for a field trip (I’m doing this one this spring with my students).
  • Have the students draw their own pictures for places they visit or take photographs.


Christy Berry

104 Days of Summer Vacation: Painting (Adult fun)

Farmer Joe by Christy Berry

As part of the 104 Days of Summer Vacation series I found that I need some fun too on my vacation.  I have been creating a few paintings these last couple of weeks.  I found myself in a spot with an empty canvas and paint but no idea.  I needed some inspiration and found it when I wasn’t looking.

1. Painting from Inspiration

Material List

My latest inspiration came from walking through the Children’s Garden under the grape vine arch way.  It was a beautiful sunny day and I wanted to capture the view in paint like the impressionist did in their time.  Thank goodness for cameras because I was also following my two children around the garden that day.

Later that night, when the children were asleep, I pull out a canvas and pick my colors.  I fill my water bucket (an ice cream bucket) and put the paint on the lid.  Yep, it’s cheap and it works really well.  I take out my pencil and I sketch out the layout.  It’s not a perfect match to the photograph; however, I wanted to paint what I also saw from a different perspective. I disappear into the task of painting and before I know it, it is three hours later.

It is a few days before I am able to get back to painting.  I take my children back the gardens for another activity and I walk by the spot and surprised to see how much the grape leaves have moved and grown.  I also check out the color of the corn house.  It is more brown than red.  That’s something that I change.

That afternoon during nap time, I pick up my brush again and start to get lost in the details and leaves.  I leave the painting on the easel when the little one starts to make a fuss and I head up stairs.  To my surprise two hours have passed by.

Each time I pass by the easel to do a load of laundry; the painting tugs at me like my children tug on my shirt.  I am just itching to get back into the painting.  It is a few days since the last time I worked on the leaves.  Each leaf takes on its own personality and color.  The colors start working with each other.  Something that I did not use this time is a cloth to wipe away the extra water for the rinsing.  This added to the time but for this painting it worked because the paint started to dry out while it was sitting on the palette.

I finished the painting today.  I like how the vines are intertwined with the frame within the painting of Famer Joe.  Before I finished, I turned the painting upside down to see if there was anything was missing.  Yep, there was something; it was a small detail that went unnoticed right-side up.  I fixed the missing part and then took the painting outside to see what it looked like in the sunlight.  This painting took a week to create and now I am sad that the painting is done.  I will just need to make a new one.

2. Create a video of your painting

While painting, I took photographs periodically. I also filmed me painting.  This is a trick because, I am holding onto the pallet in my lap, camera in one hand, and the brush in the other.  I try not to look through the camera and focus on the painting part of the leaf.  After the painting was completed, I took several completed shots and picked the best one to feature in my movie.  I then used the Animoto website to put together the short video.  I added music and then let the site do its wonders.  The music fits the image.  there is word farmer in the song.  How perfect is that?  I have attached my video to this blog for your enjoyment.

Remember, it’s not how your painting looks in the end; it is how much fun you had while creating your painting or video.  If you make a painting or video, send me the link; I would like to see what other people are creating.

-Mrs. Berry

P.S.  Students/children could also paint using the same process.  For my daughter, (8 years) time is a lot shorter (an hour to two for the whole painting).

104 Days of Summer Vacation: Local Events

I’m going to brag a bit in this post because of all the cool things that you can do in my hometown.  My family just happens to live in one of the top 100 places in the country for young people.  There are tons of things to do here.  I haven’t even listed all of them.  These are just some of the things that I like to do with my family.  I am all about free events and getting freebies.  Occasionally there are costs involved, but for a person on a shoe string budget the fees are small (5-30$).  This video is a short one and half minute video of some of the things on this list.

1. Visit a farmer’s market

(Lots of locally grown produce at reasonable prices).  I like the best bang for my buck, so if the prices didn’t match the local grocery store I do not purchase the goods.  Reasons to buy from a farmer’s market

  • Locally grown (fresher)
  • Helping your community farmers
  • Your child/students meet the people who actually produce the foods that is on their shelf
  • Show examples of running part of a business
  • It’s fun to go and see what’s growing (changes with the seasons)
  • Usually these are held outdoors
  • Sometimes there are free samples. (I love the kettle corn guy)
  • Prices are reasonable

2.  Visit your local library

I can’t stress this enough.  There are all kinds of reading programs in the summer for little ones, big ones, and adults.  For my 17 month old there is a song/reading/play time.  It is reassuring to see that I’m not the only parent that has a child who melts down, or shows signs of terrible twos.  For my older daughter (8) there are computers with games, and lots and lots of books for us to read together (Fairies).  For me there is also a summer reading program.  After reading to the girls I then read for myself.  Right now I am reading two books;  The Element by Sir Ken Robinson and Artistic License by Julie A. Hyzy.  As I was reading Artistic License, I remembered that I had read the book a few summers ago.  It was a good book then, and still is.

There’s still more

  • Free movies
  • Crafty Thursdays
  • Free speakers geared towards the summer reading program for children
  • Programs for Teens (I’m not there yet as a parent)
  • Programs for babies (past this stage)
  • Lots o’ books

 3. Visit your local gardens

The Dow Gardens is the best!  So if you don’t live in the area, I’m sorry.  They host lots of neat things geared for all ages.  The cost is 10$ per person (5 and under free) for a seasonal pass or $5 a visit.  We go two to four times a week so it’s worth its weight in gold.

  • Attend an outdoor concert.  (Free if you have a pass)  Our local garden hosts a concert every Wednesday. Pack a lunch and listen to the wonderful tunes.
  • This year a glass artist is installing new artwork piece every Sunday somewhere in the garden.  My daughters and I go hunting for the new piece.
  • There are free movie nights for adults.  Pack a picnic, blanket.  Take your sweetheart with you.
  • Attend the craft making station in the Children’s garden.  Yes they have gardens just for children; one of my favorite sections on the property. This also occurs on Wednesdays.
  • Attend story time on Friday’s in the Children’s garden.  On the second and fourth Friday they have super story time and they set up the sprinklers.  My daughters love the sprinklers.

In the Children’s Garden they have lots to do for free:

  1. Pick vegetables in the fall, one per little hand
  2. Weekly scavenger hunt of things in the garden
  3. Build scarecrows for the garden (this is a fun day for families)
  4. Kiss Sir Lancelot (big pig statute)
  5. Talk with the gardeners, they have lots of answers
  6. Blow bubbles (there’s a bubble station)
  7. Play in the sand box (it’s in the fort)
  8. Water the plant (there’s a spot to fill up water buckets)
  9. Brush the sidewalk (lots of brushes)
  10. Play in the apple house (it’s very cute)
  11. Sit in the cob house
  12. Build fairy houses and attend the Fairy Party (this is where I had my fairy idea)
  13. Look at the fish in the pond
  • If you put your registration in early (February) then you can be part of the Growing Gardeners’ program.  We almost didn’t make it this year.  I called two days after they opened the sessions and it was almost filled.  This program is amazing.  Mrs. Melissa is wonderful!
  1. Step 1: Register
  2. Step 2: Pick your plants
  3. Step 3: They start them from seed
  4. Step 4: Attend at your time and day: receive, plant book for each week with lessons, bag, pencil.  (They have the tools you need)  They teach how to use the tools and what to do.
  5. Step 5: Build your own scarecrow
  6. Step 6:  Come back every week, water, weed, measure and watch the plants grow throughout the summer.
  7. Step 7: Harvest your vegetables and eat.  Yumm!

There is a little cost for the program (25$, it is so worth it.  Cheapest “summer camp” that I know of) This year they opened a weekend box program for those who didn’t get into the Growing Gardeners.

4. Visit your local Nature Center

Every week there are a variety of activities to explore and trails to follow.  There is a spot to go and catch tadpoles and frogs.  You can check out tools for exploring, and pond dipping.

5. Visit your local forest and walk the trails

We like to go into the “tree” houses that are placed throughout the forest.  They also have a beehive that is placed indoors and connects outdoors.

6. Attend local art fairs

Every Thursday there is an Artist’s Market at the Farmer’s market.

7. Visit the local art projects downtown

This year trolls have invaded the downtown area.  One year there were frogs everywhere.

8.  Attend your local baseball games

These are a lot of fun.  Personally, I like the lawn seating.  The tickets are cheaper and more fun because you don’t need to worry about blocking another person’s view.  Our local stadium has a playground area for children who get restless.  I also like to watch the fireworks at the end of the game.

9.  Visit your local science center 

We saw reptiles dead and alive.  We also like to see the other experiments and exhibits.

10. Visit your local rib place

Bone Daddy’s won the nugget cook-off.  So when I say I know where to get the best ribs in the nation.  I’m not telling a tale.  Best part.  I live really close to them.  On a good day you can smell the ribs.

11. Visit a local ice-cream shop

My personal favorite is the Great Lakes Ice Cream Company.  Dog puke is my favorite ice cream.  It’s sounds gross but it is ever so yummy.  This is a treat for a hot day.

You may not live in my community; however, a great spot to check out your local events is the library or the newspaper.  Go out and have an adventure!

-Mrs. Berry

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