Sunday, November 29, 2015

DIY Handbag Design: Wings

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, I had some quality art + design time.  
You know what that means (*wink, wink*) I painted something.

I wanted to use my wings sketch on a handbag.
So I broke out one of my Thirty-One purse skirts,
and promptly began altering it.

Because of its length, this grey purse skirt was perfect for the job.
First, I sketched my design on the bag in pencil.
Then I used a black Pentel gel roller for fabric to trace my design.

The fabric has less cotton content than that of a canvas bag.  
That just meant that I occasionally had to clean little fuzz bits 
off the point of my pens. 

I love my Posca fabric pens.  
Originally, I was not planning to use the white marker, 
but my daughter talked me into it.

Time to put the skirt back on the purse!

I enjoyed this project.  One challenge was finding wings that were appropriate for the size requirements.  Through my sketching, I learned that it's very easy to get wings wrong.  
Let me know if you try this project and what you think about it.

Happy art-making!  

Friday, November 27, 2015

Simple Pleasures of Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is an American holiday, but its universal themes of family love and togetherness resonate across cultures.  I hope that this weekend, you can take a break from the fast pace of life, and, in the quiet moments, enjoy life's simple pleasures.

Much love,

Monday, November 16, 2015

Inspiring Artists: Focus on Fall

Fall is my favorite time of year.  Crunchy leaves underfoot, tiny acorns hitting the ground, showstopping color displays in fiery hues.  It's nature's last "hoorah" before settling down for a long winter's rest.

Here's just a sample of Fall's beauty from the North Carolina mountains.  My college minister, Cherrie, spread these gorgeous, enormous leaves on her windshield after a recent hike.  (Thanks for letting me borrow the photo, Cherrie!)

Another simple pleasure that I enjoy especially at this time of year is the work of artists who use Fall as their muse.

It's not easy for an artist to capture the explosive color displays and ephemeral beauty of Autumn.  I gathered a small sampling of the work of these creative people here for you to enjoy, too.  So, grab a cup of hot cocoa and take a moment for yourself to enjoy the essence of Fall before the cold winter winds drive it away.

Here is a quick sampling of artists who find their muse in Fall.

J E N N I F E R   C A V A N 

I have followed Jennifer's work for years.  Her specialty is oil pastel, which has an unrivaled hue and luster.  Jennifer lives in one my favorite places in the world:  Angelfire, New Mexico.  

You can see more of her outstanding landscapes on her website or her Facebook page.  

"Sweet Dreams" by Jennifer Cavan


S U S A N   G I L C H R I S T

Can you imagine how much patience you need to draw on paper with a miniature crow quill dip pen and a bottle of ink?  Susan Gilchrist painstakingly paints each little wrinkle of a dying leaf in her recent pen and ink fall leaf pieces.  

Her work captures the essence of the end stages of a life cycle. You can find more of her fascinating images of leaves on her Facebook page.

Susan Gilchrist, pen and ink


E M I L Y    A A R T S E N

I will leave you with a Fall poem by Emily Aartsen ©.

For November


They say it is the month of death,
But I have never seen such beauty in decay.

Remains of Autumn,
Still smoldering,
Cling to the branches,
And the earth is painted a thousand shades of red.

When a heavy fog smothers the ground,
Breathe in and let it fill your lungs.

It is at this time the world seems still
And the fear of winter is forgotten,

If only for a moment,

Before the light fades,
And we return to darkness once more.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Inspiring Artists: 3 artists "discovered"

When I come across artwork that makes my heart sing, I want to share with all of you.

Instagram Discovery:  Erik Davis

In the last few weeks, I have fallen in love with the work of three artists.  Two of them I have recently "met" over social media and (that wondrous creation) the internet.  One of them is an old friend who has teamed up with me to sketch at least monthly at our local Barnes & Nobles Cafe.  (Do you love Starbucks as much as I do?  I think our friends and families are starting to wonder if it was really necessary that we meet at the Cafe to sketch. *wink wink*) 

I follow a LOT of talented artists on Instagram, and one of those is Erik Davis.  You can follow his insta account also at @sketchererik.  Recently, I bought (for a great price) his new holiday cards.

If this poignant watercolor painting doesn't get you in the mood for the holidays, then I don't know what will!  Contact Erik through his website to order your cards, too.

(Side note:  If you like beautiful artwork and/or photography, Instagram will be your new best friend.  Artists actually interact there, and end up forming a supportive community.)

Blogger Discovery:  Cassie Stephens

I have been beefing up the number of artist's blogs that I follow.  That's how I found a fantabulous blog by Cassie Stephens.  She is an elementary art teacher in Nashville, Tennessee, and she makes the cutest artsy dresses you will ever see.  Click on the photo below to see her blog post about the art dresses she wears to school.

Some kids don't have art teachers in their school.  And some fortunate artists-in-training have Cassie Stephens. Cassie's humor and excellent teaching skills come through in her writing.  You will LOVE her blog, and you can follow her on Instagram, too.

Real Life Discovery:  Lou Ann Peters

I've known Lou Ann for years, but you know how life has a way of taking over and then, one day, you wake up and reconnect with a friend?  Lou Ann and I reconnected over Facebook, even though we live in the same city.  We hatched an awesome plan to get together and sketch on a regular basis (read:  draw a bit while dishing about art shows, events, and other gossip) while drinking some glorious coffee.  

Lou Ann is an outstanding painter of realism.  Lately, she has been churning out small works with a door theme, like this 5" x 7" painting below.  You can see more of her work on her Facebook page.

Please check out these artists to learn more about their work and to put a dash of inspiration into your day.


Sunday, November 01, 2015

Spooky fonts, y'all!

Last night after Trick or Treating, our family watched The Invisible Man, H.G. Wells' film from 1933.  I often sketch while we watch movies, and this one got me in the mood for spooky typography.

Along the way, I noticed that Alex had found my sketchbook again, and added his own scary ghost (below).  

Alex's ghost has black gloves.

Even Clarice has decided to hijack my sketchbook by surreptitiously adding her own message.  "Yasssss, Work it! Sassy YOLO," all comes from her. (*sigh*)

I hope your Halloween was spookalicious, entertaining, and full of artsy inspiration.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

My Skillshare class is live!

If you have been thinking of a way to push your imagination and creativity to new boundaries, then why not enroll in my online abstract art class?  You can enroll for free with this link:

I’m excited to announce that I’ve just released my first class on Skillshare, Abstract Art with a Twist:  Personalize a Modern Masterpiece. I want to invite you, my art enthusiast friends, to enroll for free with by clicking here

If you have wanted to push your imagination and creativity to new boundaries, then why not enroll in this online abstract art class?  Your enrollment will take one minute, is totally free, and will help my class gain some traction. My goal is to reach 25 students and 5 reviews by next Saturday. 

The total video time is less than 30 minutes.  If you don’t have time to watch all the videos right away, I totally understand, but I hope you’ll be take a quick moment to enroll and leave your feedback as soon as you get the chance. You may even find some other classes you love on Skillshare. There are so many.  Please reach out to me if you want a recommendation for an awesome business, art, or (even) knitting class!  Remember that you can enjoy those classes for free for a month with this link.

Instagram: @nicolettaarnolfini
Twitter:  @nicolearnoldnc

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Skillshare class launch in 2 days

We're almost there!  My Skillshare class called "Abstract Art with a Twist:  Personalize a Modern Masterpiece" will launch on Saturday, October 31.  (Happy Halloween!)

Watch the intro video, and take a look at the class supply and resource list.

If you are interested in learning more about the beautiful work of Kandinsky, or if you have an interest in trying your hand at abstract art, then watch this space.  I'll post links to enroll for the class as soon as we launch.  (Just a couple more days to go!)

Skillshare has an excellent platform for sharing projects and communicating with your fellow students (and with the teacher).  For just $10 per month, you can take any number of classes on subjects ranging from how to launch a business to graphic design.  I will even be able to share some links with you so you can try out Skillshare free for a limited time.

I can't wait to see my new students' projects!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Current art obsessions

Artists need other artists to help them stay inspired to create.

I've rounded up some spooktacular Halloween-themed projects in addition some gorgeous handmade art for your inspiration.  I hope that reading about these artists helps you get your own creative juices flowing.

Fellow Artomat artist Rachel O now sells her "Fabulously Whimsical" jewelry on Amazon Handmade, which just launched.  (Check it out if you missed it.)  You can also buy her beautiful fabric-covered earrings on her Etsy store.

photo: Rachel O's Fabulous Whimsy


Alfred Hitchcock gave us "The Birds," so we'll never look at another blackbird in quite the same way.  If you throwing a Halloween party this month, then you'll need these cookies.  Your guests won't know whether to be creeped out or to give in to deliciousness.  Read the step-by-step instructions at

photo:  Camille Styles


Off-beat artist for October:  Tommy Kane

Photo:  Tommy Kane's Blog

Every blog needs interesting photos and great little stories.  Tommy Kane's illustrations are interesting, and I love reading his short insights.  Take some time to get inspired today.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

How to choose your personal stamp for your abstract art painting

If you are enrolled in my Skillshare class on Kandinsky, then toward the end of the project, you will contemplate what to add as your personal stamp.
This is not a difficult task!  It all comes down to "knowing thyself." (My apologies to Mr. Socrates for paraphrasing his quote.)

There is a sure-fire method to figuring out what you are passionate about at this moment.  Take a walk through your sketchbook and you'll see.

Let's take a gander at my sketchbook as an example.

Some stylized floral designs...

with some paisley designs coming from Eastern influences...

a little bit of William Morris textiles, with a floral motif...

random geometric and Celtic designs...

I'm sensing a floral theme...

hmmm... geometrically-drawn floral themes...

Incan designs that contain both organic (curvy) and straight (geometric) lines...

East Indian designs with (shocker) florals...

Goodness gracious.

OK, I get it.

Do you see what I see?  If I had looked into a crystal ball and then written a letter to myself a month or so ago, it would have said:

Dear Nicole, 
You will be obsessed with floral patterns in your sketch work. Although the natural world has more elements in it than symmetrical flowers, your eyes will not absorb anything else. 
Sincerely yours, 
Clairvoyant Nicole

Now that I have taken the time to review my sketchbook, it's easy to see that I need to use a floral motif in my personal stamp.  What's an artsy girl to do in this situation?  Run out to her local arts and crafts store and buy a flower stencil.

(Note:  You can make your own design, and do not have to make a purchase.  I just found an excuse to buy art supplies, which is a guilty pleasure.)

This is how I turned my Kandinsky Circle into a Kandinsky Rose.  I chose to apply the stencil slightly off-center because, you know, I want people to think I'm unpredictable in my old age.

Please let me know how you came to decide upon your personal stamp.  I would love to see your sketchbook photos or hear your stories.  I'm waiting right here on the other end of this paper cup and string telephone we call the internet.  

Stay inspired!


Saturday, October 17, 2015

New BohoBlu handbag design is finished

Recent find (grey canvas handbag) at BohoBlu in High Point, NC.
This is the final design I painted on the front of the bag:  
Aztec, lotus flower and zentangle influences here.

I kept the same color palette (black, white, turquoise, gold) for the back pocket design.

Progress shot (back)

Beginnings of the front pocket design

Original handbag (back)

Original handbag (front)

Where did my artistic influences come from?

Curvy lines:  Perhaps these came from Poirot's mustache (and my Dad's mustache) 
and a general love of the Art Deco period.

For the scrollwork on the back pocket, I kept thinking of my 
Grandmother's (Nannie Sue's) storm door from the 1960s.

I found hardware from 1960s storm and screen doors on Ebay.
Did everyone's grandma have a door with designs like these?
Now that I've completed the scrollwork on this bag, I really want to buy
a door like my Nannie's for my house.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Recent sketches and influences

Heart-shaped mushroom cap with my new BohoBlu Box ring

Doodling late at night...

Geometric influences at the Proximity Hotel in Greensboro, NC

Doodling during meetings...

Gorgeous Carolina blue sky against this geometric gem of a building

Shameless plug

I love fall so much.

It's hard to see, but there were so many little birds singing their hearts out while hanging out on these wires.  I loved the clouds and the lines from the powerlines on this windy day (between tropical depressions weather fronts in early October in NC).

Elyse Allen, Artist, in Charlotte Contemporary Art Showcase

I would love to attend this Fashion + Art event.