Monthly Archives: July 2013

Find Your Voice–Week 3


For this week’s Find Your Voice assignment, we focused on our personal and creative goals, as well as the things that make us happy.  I have been totally lazy this week and have not taken any photos of the pages that I made for my goals.  I can tell you what they are though 🙂


  1. Get certified to teach Spanish–I could. I just haven’t yet. And I should, just to keep my options open.
  2. Complete the C25K training program. –I’m on week 5 (of 8).  It’s getting hard now and I’m losing some of my motivation to keep going…must stick it out for 3 more weeks!
  3. Run in a 5k–dependent on #2
  4. Be debt free.–Paid off the car earlier this summer. One credit card left. Then, of course, there’s the student loans and mortgage, but my main focus is on the credit card now.
  5. Be able to work from home.


  1. Add 10 more items to my etsy shop.
  2. take a live workshop.–I’ve done several online classes, but I think a live one would be so much fun!
  3. Get electricity hooked up in the art room.–Yeah. Summer in SC + no air= Not getting much done out there.

The prompt for this week was to make a page in our books about something that makes us happy.

My husband is leaving to visit family in a few days and he wanted to bring some new pictures out for everyone.  So, we did a little photo shoot in a local park and at home. In the process I got the cutest picture of my little dog, Bella.

Let me tell you about Bella.

Bella is a neurotic Chihuahua that was given to us by some neighbors who were living in a rental house next to us.  They were about to move out, and the new place did not allow dogs, so they came over to ask if we would be interested in taking her.  This was a little bit of a surprise to us because

  1. We didn’t know them that well
  2. we had no idea they even had a dog

In the end, we agreed to take her, sight-unseen.

Well. What a snippy, snappy, growly, barky little monster she turned out to be. At least, that’s what I thought at first.  The first 24 hours were rough. However, “Trixie” and I had a moment:  I reached down to pick her up: she snarled and snapped. I grabbed her anyway. She got a hold of my hand in her mouth.  The moment of truth—she didn’t bite down.  She just held it there, then dropped it.  If she were truly a vicious, aggressive dog, that would have been her chance to rip me to shreds.  But she didn’t. And that’s when I realized that I wasn’t dealing with a mean dog; I was dealing with a scared, under-confident dog.

I spent the next couple of days really working to build trust with her.  I put her on a leash and kept her with me the majority of the time.  I fed her. I petted her when she was calm.  Mostly, I just sat with her doing nothing.

I also gave her a new name.  I felt that a name like “Trixie” belonged to someone who was cute, but flighty and unpredictable.  It was also too high-pitched for my liking. I wanted her to have a name that said Classy, Solid, Beautiful, Calm…And so I re-named her: Bella.

Bella had a long way to go.  She had to learn about people and floors and grass and dogs and cars (man, does she love to ride!) and walking on a leash and that brooms are only for sweeping.

I look at her now and I am so proud of her because she has come so far.

She still barks too much.

She still believes whole-heartedly in “stranger danger.”

But she has learned how to be a dog.

She has learned to tolerate my son and, to a lesser extent, my husband.

Sometimes, when I get all gushy about what progress she’s made, the people who have met her look at me like “yeah right, lady.”  They still only see teeth.

But now I have proof.

I have proof that she is sweet.

She loves me.

Every day, whether I’ve been gone for 5 minutes or 5 hours, I come home to this


And that makes me happy.


Step by Step Custom Breyer Remake (Mendhi-Classic Rearing Stallion)


Today I began working on a remake of a classic sized Breyer in the Rearing Stallion mold.  Here he is before: Image Unfortunately he came to me with a broken tail.  Breaks on any Breyer can be tricky to fix.  Before taking on that task, first I went ahead and sanded him down. Image and then pieced together and primed Image Check out my sweet puppy Ruf-Ruf posing for ya there in the background :). At this point, I kinda forgot to keep up with all of the picture taking, but I think I can talk you through it.. Image I started out with a translucent yellow base, but looking at it I decided that it was too, well, yellow. So, I thought that I might try to go for a sunset effect by adding on translucent red while the yellow was still wet. Didn’t quite work out the way I would have liked.  He mostly just turned out yellow and red instead of the nice red-orange-yellow fade I had hoped for, so I added another coat of yellow on top. Image Again, not what I was going for. And then came a sudden rain shower, which forced me to pick up my wet horse and move him inside to dry. Well, you can imagine that this did not go well at all. I’ve had my eyes open for a lazy susan to make painting in the round more easy, but I haven’t found one yet. Today’s experience has let me know that maybe I need to put my horse on an old plate or something if I am painting outside so that I don’t have to actually handle them in the event of sudden downpours, and the like.  As you may have guessed, 3 coats of wet paint + fingers = mess!  Still, since I do not believe in accidents, I decided to just go with it.  I got out my fine sandpaper and proceeded to give him a distressed look that, end the end, I liked very much.  It reminded me of some kind of ancient artifact…an old temple idol… Following this line of thinking, I dug out some old temporary tattoos that I’ve had for ages. Image I was pretty sure I would be able to apply the temporary tattoos to the model.  I’d never actually done it before, but I had tried using rub-ons on my test model, and usually rub-ons and temp tattoos can be used on the same surfaces, so I decided to give it a go.  Fortunately, it worked out really well and I was pleased with the results.  However, I only had a couple of good tattoos for the model.  I went back to the store to see I could get some similar ones, but I only found rock n roll and hippie tats….Plan B?  I dug out my charcoal Sakura glaze pen and drew the rest of them in myself. It took about 2 hours and nearly the entire contents of my pen to cover the whole body, but I was generally pleased with the result. ImageImage As soon as all of the ink was dry I sprayed him down with a couple coats of sealer to keep it from smudging. Later, I added black points on him and finished him off with a dab of translucent metallic gold, red and turquoise, just to him a little extra sparkle. Image Ta-Da! Thanks for visiting!

Breyer Remake-Start to Finish (Appaloosa Mare)


So I thought it might be fun to do a post showing the process of doing a Breyer remake from start to finish.

First I select a model.  For this project I will be using an Appaloosa Mare.


Some people remake horses that are brand new, fresh out of the box. I do not. I always work on a “scratch and dent” model that I picked up at a thrift store, flea market, yard sale etc.  I only work on models that are no longer in collectible condition.

The next step is to sand it down and get it ready for refinishing.


Next, no matter what color I plan to paint the horse, I always start with a layer of white primer.  This helps me to see the “bones” of a horse, as well as any hidden imperfections in the body. This is also the point where I usually get some inspiration for what the final product will look like.



As you can see, this horse has several deep gouges on its neck sides. In cases like this, I will give the horse a distressed paint job to camouflage the flaws and use them to their advantage. This time I will be using a dish soap resist.


I decided I wanted a black base. Then I applied dish soap bubbles to the wet paint to give a nice random, splotchy effect.  Snowflake appaloosa anyone?

IMG_0778[1] IMG_0779[1]

After the paint was (mostly) dry, I went in and added a glossy black to the face, tail, and legs to blend the body paint in with the rest of the horse. I liked it like this, but I also felt that it needed a little more..pizzaz…..color.

IMG_0782[1] IMG_0783[1] IMG_0784[1]

I decided to go with a translucent blue over the spots so that they would still be visible, but not quite as stark as the black and white version.  All she needed then was a coat of finishing spray so that everything stays put. And that’s it..done!  Here’s a quick before and after just for a recap.

IMG_0772[1] IMG_0782[1]

Thanks for looking! Check back for more Breyer remakes in progress!!!

New Addition to the Shop: Moonstruck


New pony in my shop! Check him out…

I call him “Moonstruck”


He is made in the Five Gaiter mold.  Does he look a little familiar? Maybe it’s because he was in my shop before with a different paint job. Unfortunately he took a flying leap off the shelf and really dinged the paint up bad. Fortunately, the body wasn’t damaged in any way. However, his original paint job just did not want to come off. It kept gumming up on me. It literally took hours to strip him down a refinish him.  Six coats of gesso/primer later I was able to start working on him again.

He has a blue base coat with layers of metallic blue, greens, and golds and the final finish is a combination of distressed and metallic. Definitely a one of a kind!

Find Your Voice-Week 2, Part 2


Woo Hoo! Finished with week 2!  I decided to do both the craft prompt and the journal prompt for this one. And might I just add–what a QUINKYDINK that in this journal that I made MONTHS ago, the scrapbook pages and the lined journaling pages are lining up perfectly with this course’s prompts!  It’s fate, I tell ya, fate!


I started out by making a vertical title for this week’s entries on a half page. For some reason my computer doesn’t want to show you this pic vertically…maybe it’s afraid you can’t read sideways? Anyway, you get the idea.

I did the next 2-page spread “art journal style.” I’m not gonna lie, it was touch-and-go there for a while.  I started by collaging over the original 2 pages, then painting over top of the collage, and then collaging AGAIN with the stuff you see here.


Confession: I have been DYING to use that butterfly notecard somewhere, someway. It has no real purpose other than to sit there and be pretty. In my defense, it’s a good indicator of my favorite colors and style, so it goes with the prompt, right?


Flipping back the butterfly, you see the first page. I painted the girl first, but decided I didn’t like her–she was just to “princess-y” for me. I almost painted over her; however, once I got a better vision of where I was going with this page, I was very glad I didn’t.

This page represents me as a child and adolescent.  The insert next to it has my childhood nickname, “Smiley” on it.


On the next page is a representation of me now.  One thing that I find interesting, especially because I did not do it on purpose is that you can see the things that are the same from “then and now”–purple, the fabric tag, the continuation of the quote, and the ribbon trimming on the tag…ok, maybe that’s all, but I still think it’s neat that it worked out like that.

It also worked out just perfectly that my little “Stories” tab serves a dual purpose: to represent me now, as a reader and writer of stories, as well as to indicate the journal page behind it.


Now is that just perfect or what?

The journaling reads:

“In order to be who you are, you must be willing to forget who they told you to be.” This is a struggle I think we all face. We are told from the very beginning who we should and should not be. For me, who I was, who “they” wanted me to be was the good girl–the little princess  that never got in trouble, never spoke out of turn, and always made good grades.  This is who I was, and who, for the most part, I enjoyed being throughout my childhood and adolescence.  I think it was somewhere around my senior year in high school that my dad sat me down, concerned, and said “Look, Val. You’re a good kid, but you’ve got to start getting out there and having some fun. Get in trouble. It’s great to have good grades and all, but you’re gonna grow up soon enough. Be young and stupid while it’s still expected of you. You need to enjoy this time while you can.” How’s THAT for a father-daughter talk??? So, you know what I did? Nothing. I did not take his advice. I continued to be Miss Goodie-Goodie, staying inside and watching everyone else have all the fun. And what did it get me? A college degree and a lot of “shoulda-coulda-woulda’s.”  So, is this an excuse to be “bad”? Rebel?  I don’t think so. But it is a reason to get off the sidelines. Have an adventure (or two!),.Not just to dream, but to go out there and make things happen! DO SOMETHING ALREADY! Live life to the fullest.  I’ve made my bucket list and I’m working on checking things off of it one by one.  I mean, after all, who says good girls can’t have a little fun?

Read more about the Find your Voice Project here.

Join the Find Your Voice facebook page here.

Read week 2, part 1 here.

Read week 1 here.

Paper Lovers Studio Scrapbooking Challenge


Well, it appears that Paper Lovers Studio has issued a challenge for people to create a scrapbook page without using any pictures.  Here’s my entry:


This page features the very first drawing my son made of me. I think he was about 2 1/2 or so when he made this.  I remember being so happy that drew me smiling–what with the terrible two’s and all, I didn’t always feel like I did a lot of smiling at the time.  It’s kind of hard to see in this picture, but I promise, it’s there! What a sweetie 🙂

Find Your Voice: Week 2 (part 1)


As you may know, I am participating in the Find Your Voice summer storytelling workshop. It’s a free workshop which has guided writing, photography, and craft prompts.  And it’s a lot of fun, and you can sign up any time, so if you’re interested, stop by and join in!

I have decided to break week 2 into smaller chunks. It’s pretty intensive, and I can only process so much at a time. That being said, here are my short answers for the About Me section.

NAME: Valerie Ryan

AGE: 31



NICKNAME: Val, Smiley

DOB: 8/18/81


COLOR: turquoise

BOOKS: The Velveteen Rabbit, the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon

HOBBIES: “arts and crafts,” horseback riding, running, reading

FOOD: eggs (any), pie (any)

HOLIDAY: Winter Solstice

MUSIC: varies by my mood, but Coldplay, P!nk, and Beats Antique are always some of my favorite choices

BEST ACCOMPLISHMENT: learning to ride a bike at the age of 28

WORST DAY: My first day of 7th grade

LONGEST TRIP: 1 week (various)

FURTHEST FROM HOME: Vegas  for a conference


FUNNIEST QUIRK- I have 2 different thumbs: one from my mom and one from my dad. For real. Look:



You’d think with being named after an actress and a soap opera character, I was destined to be a movie star, or a drama queen at the very least.  My Dad picked Valerie after his favorite actress Valerie Bertinelli.  My mom chose  Ryan as my middle name after the lead character in the soap opera Ryan’s Hope. However, I’m not much of an actress, and I’m only a drama queen on special occasions.  Lucky break for the folks? Or did I just miss my calling?

NICKNAME: “Smiley”
When I was little, I spent most of my time at the home of an elderly couple who I came to call Granny and Pa.  Pa was the one who gave me my childhood nickname.  He was an illiterate farmer and WWII vet; a hard worker and a man a few words. Pa and I would often sit in companionable silence–at the breakfast table over a plate of biscuits and gravy; on the front porch swing while I watched the curlicues tumble out of his whittling stick; on the couch watching the Ralph Emory Show while he cleaned out his ears with a matchstick.  “That’n there,” he’d say, “she’s a good’n. Don’t cause no trouble. Quiet. Jus’ sits there ‘n smiles at ye all the time.”

(to be continued)