Turning Your Meaningful Keepsakes into One of a Kind Gifts

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I’ve been involved in art projects of different kinds for as long as I can remember, and one thing I’ve always struggled with is taking pictures of the process!  I’ve got plenty of nice photos of the finished products, but I constantly tell myself “You need to take more pictures of the different steps”, to which myself replies “Yeah, I know, leave me alone, I’m working”. It’s not that I forget, but when you’re in the thick of it, it’s hard to put down the brushes and document everything.  I love seeing progress shots from other artists, so it’s definitely something I’m working on.  

Today, I want to share with you the process I use for creating your custom invitation keepsakes!

It usually starts with an email from a potential client, interested in the idea of the framed keepsake, but curious what I would do with it.  I am always happy to give my initial ideas based on a photo of the invitation before you complete your purchase. Take this one for example:

How pretty is this invitation!? Gold, flowers, and that envelope…yes, please!

How pretty is this invitation!? Gold, flowers, and that envelope…yes, please!

Joanne was considering purchasing a custom keepsake as a meaningful gift for her daughter on her wedding day. After discussing my initial ideas and completing the purchase, she sent me the invitation and envelope (and even some extra pieces of the sparkly paper!). 

My first step is a quick sketch to get an idea of the overall layout.

I send the sketch, and any other ideas that need input, to the client for their approval. In this case, I had her choose between vertical and horizontal layout, as well as whether she wanted to incorporate the gold paper behind the envelope pieces.

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She chose option 2 :)

She chose option 2 :)

Next, I make sure I have all of the colors I need.

I use acrylic paints for my paintings, and usually need to custom mix some of the colors to make sure they match the invitation.  This mess of colors is me testing out different mixes, and making sure to write down what colors I used to create them.

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Then I turn the sketch into a more detailed drawing.  

I like to do it on tracing paper so I can see the invitation and other elements underneath, making sure the painted pieces will be spaced nicely and won’t cover up any of the words.

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Once I’m happy with the drawings, I transfer my sketch onto the actual painting surface.

To do this, I rub charcoal all over the back of the tracing paper. Then I place the tracing paper (charcoal side down) on top of the paper I’m using for the painting. I trace over my drawing, and the pressure from the pen transfers the charcoal onto the painting surface. Doing it this way, instead of just doing all my sketching on the final paper, helps me avoid having lots of extra pencil and eraser marks to deal with. 

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I trace over the charcoal lightly with pencil so I can wipe off the excess charcoal before starting painting. 

From this point, it’s paint paint paint. 

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Once everything’s painted, it's time for assembly.

I carefully cut out each piece using an exacto knife and glue everything together. I place a layer of mat board behind the painted pieces, allowing them to stand out in front of the invitation, giving a bit of a 3D effect.

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Finally, it’s time to frame!

It’s amazing how different frames can completely change the look of a painting. I sent Joanne a few different options for this one.  

She picked my favorite - the gray one in front!

She picked my favorite - the gray one in front!

All done!

It's time to wrap it up and send it to its new home. I love getting to be part of your stories in this way. Thank you so much for trusting me with these special mementos. Now let's get to work on yours!

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