How To Become an Artist

I am an art teacher and it always surprises me when kids tell me they don’t want to take art class because they don’t know how to draw!  Really?  Did you know how to do calculus before you took a math class?  Did you know the Preamble to the Constitution before you took American History?  Probably not.  So when people say, “But I don’t know how to draw!” I say, “GOOD! You’ve come to the right place!”

Not everyone was born with a natural artistic talent.  Sure it comes easier to some than others but we all have room to learn and grow.  We can all achieve some level of talent with the right tools and lots of practice.  The key is to find what you love and build on that.

Personally I am very good at drawing, especially architectural drawing.  I have a good eye for perspective and I love the meticulous technical detail that comes with architectural drawing.  My passion however is for painting.  I can get lost in a painting for hours.  Painting for me is meditative and hypnotic.  That doesn’t happen to me with drawing.  But…painting doesn’t come easy for me.  I really have to work at it.

I have tried virtually every art and craft outlet available from knitting, to scrap-booking, drawing, painting and sewing. I’ve crocheted snowflakes out of the tiniest of threads and built a chicken coop by hand with large boards and power tools.  If it can be made, built, crafted or somehow put on paper I have probably tried it at least once.

My point is that being an “artist” can look like many different things.  Experiment, look at art and see what stand out to you, find some tools that look fun to try.  Once you have chosen the art form you wish to pursue I have three pieces of advice.

1.  Practice
2.  Allow your self to make mistakes! After all there are no mistakes in art, only happy accidents!
3.  Practice some more.

One of the new features that you will regularly find here is my creativity series.  I will posting tips and tutorials in all different creative areas.  I will also address a variety of skill levels.  There is a lot of creativity going on here on the farm and I want to share that with you.  Here are a few posts you can look forward to in the near future.

Beginning Drawing 101 – I have a pencil and paper, now what?

Acrylic Painting Basics – Intuitive Abstract Painting Tutorial

What is Art Journaling?

How to Make a Simple Art Journal with an Old Magazine

Look for my art related posts on Fridays and/or Saturdays!  Is there something you would like me to show?  A specific tutorial you are looking for?  Let me know!

5 Kitchen Gadgets I Can’t Live Without

Recently in my post 10Reasons You Are Buying Take-out Instead of Cooking, I mentioned that lack of adequate and appropriate kitchen tools can keep us out of the kitchen.  Having the right tools can make cooking more fun and seem less like a chore.  Having the wrong or inadequate kitchen tools can cost time and can even be a danger.  Dull knives cause a greater number and more severe injuries than a sharp knife.  Having at least one really good knife in your kitchen is a necessity which is why it is number one on my list of 5 Kitchen Gadgets I Can’t Live Without.
1. Knives
Photo from
My FAVORITE knife set is the Furi Rachael Ray Coppertail 3-Piece East/West Bamboo Knife Set.  The $70 price tag may seem a bit hefty but once you use these knives you will wonder how you ever functioned in the kitchen without them!
2. Microplane
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I have several Microplanes and I love them all but my favorite is the Microplane 40020 Classic Zester/Grater.  I use it to grate garlic, zest citrus fruit and grate fresh nutmeg.
3.  Garlic Roaster
I love, love, love garlic…especially roasted garlic.  I received this electric garlic roaster as a gift from my mom many years ago and my life hasn’t been the same since.  It is so easy to use and it makes great roasted garlic in a little less than 30 minutes without the need to heat up the oven.
4.  Enameled Cast-iron dutch Oven
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I was always a little intimidated by cast iron because it is heavy and it is expensive.  I got an enameled cast iron dutch oven (again from my mom) a few years ago and I don’t know how I got by before I had it!  It is perfect for cooking large pots of beans and soups, both things we love to eat in the colder months.  I have even used mine to deep fry homemade donuts! YUM!
5.  Iced Tea Maker
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I love to drink iced tea and this Iced Tea Maker makes it so easy!  Just add water and tea bags to the brewer and ice to the pitcher and in less than 10 minutes you will have ice cold tea to drink.  Just place the pitcher in the fridge and you can enjoy the tea for days (or hours if you drink as much as I do)!
Disclaimer: Due to recent changes in Arkansas Tax Law I am NO LONGER a member of the Amazon Affiliates program.  That means I am no longer compensated in any form or fashion if you click and purchase an product through my site.  I have been a customer of for years and have always been pleased with their high level of service. I link to products on their site because I personally feel it is a trust worthy site.  All of the products listed in this post are there because I truly love them.  I was not compensated in any way for my opinions. The companies listed above likely have no knowledge that I even exist!

Stop Watching, Start Doing (A Guest Post)

By Karen Isaacson of iamrushmore

I used to be a lurker.
Skulking through the aisles of Borders, drooling on the art books, buying dozens of titles and reading them alone, in private. Scrolling through endless art blogs and flickr streams. Never leaving comments, never making contacts, and never making art. Looking at other people’s work filled me with a potent mix of yearning and despair. I knew I wasn’t capable of making anything like this, but I wanted to…what? Own it? Eat it? BE it? I wasn’t sure. So I lurked. And sighed a lot.

And then something in me broke this past winter. I was sick of watching, it was time to act. Maybe Mercury was in retrograde. Maybe my deep intuitive animal spirit from my past life came bubbling forth. Or maybe it’s the maturity of being 43 years old and not caring so darn much what other people think. But really? I blame it on the snow.

For the first three months of this year, Massachusetts was pounded with one relentless blizzard after another. I’m a life-long New Englander, accustomed to the cold, dark days of winter, but this was crazy-making. Round the bend, weeping while shoveling, watching the skies with dread. By mid-March I was seriously considering medication. Instead I found art.

I purged the guest room of everything that had piled up there (Seriously – guest room? We never have guests. It’s the junk room. Say it like it is.) I gathered all my paint and paper and glue and bits of stuff. I feathered my nest with things that made me happy, with no consideration for anyone else in the family. I dared to call it my studio. At first I always said it in quotes, but still. I took a deep breath and started making stuff.

I’ve messed around with art supplies almost every day for 3 months now. Here’s what I’ve learned:
• It’s okay to suck. Expect it. Embrace it. Don’t fix it. Leave it alone. Move on. Make something else

• Stop thinking. Lots of people talk about intuitive art. Maybe it is. Or maybe that’s just another word for random. Whatever. Go with it. Everything doesn’t have to have MEANING. Sometimes what you make really is just random stuff glued to a piece of paper. Don’t worry about. Make something else.

• Make art even when you don’t feel like making art. Because once you start making art you’ll realize this is EXACTLY what you feel like doing right now and it’s making you very very happy.

• Copying other people is okay as long as you don’t try to pass it off as your own work. It’s not cheating, it’s learning. Stop worrying about your “voice”. Make something else.
• The internet can inspire you and challenge you and encourage you. It can also cripple you. Trust me. Reading about stuff can only take you so far. The way to get better at art is to make art.

So as much as I love that you’re here on Julie’s blog, looking at my art and reading my ramblings, it’s time to stop. Turn off the computer and go make something. Maybe it’s not a painting. Maybe it’s an amazing meal. Or a beautiful garden. Or hand-knit socks.

Stop watching. Start doing.

“When she’s not out catching salamanders, Karen Isaacson spends most of her time scraping paint and glue off her hands, clothes and walls.  She blogs about it at iamrushmore and loves visitors and comments.”

Looking for Guest Posts: I want YOU

This Sunday I am launching a new section on my blog!  Each Sunday I will be bringing you a guest post from one of my readers, a cook, an artist, a blogger I admire or perhaps even YOU!  Submission is super easy and you can write on whatever topic feels near and dear to you.  I hope that YOU will consider writing a guest post for my blog!  If you are interested please email me at or contact me by using the form located on the Contact Us page in the top menu bar.

This Sunday’s guest post will be coming from Karen Issacson who write creative posts for her blog I am Rushmore.  Take a few minutes to look at her work and then don’t forget to stop by here on Sunday to see what she has to say!

10 Reasons You Are Buying Take-out Instead of Cooking (Plus an easy recipe you can cook tonight!)

You could search the internet and find hundreds if not thousands of resources, studies and surveys that all show that cooking at home rather than eating out is less expensive and better for our figures and our health.  Yet, even when armed with all this knowledge, we are still tempted to partake in take-out.  Why?  It’s quick and it’s easy.  But, guess what?  Cooking at home can be quick and easy too and a lot healthier.

The reasons we head to the drive-thru are many but here are 10 things that are probably the most likely to influence you to choose take-out along with some tips to help you get out of the car and back in the kitchen.

1. You’re LAZY

You know it, I know it and we’ve all been there before.  There are just some nights when it seems easier to get in the car, drive 10 miles to the McDonald’s drive-thru, load up on burgers and fries and come home.  The meal is then followed by possible guilt over the money you spent or the amount of calories you ate.  You scarfed down that burger in 3.2 minutes and you find yourself wondering if it even had flavor.  Did I even enjoy that thing I practically swallowed whole?  On the surface, maybe, but when you really think about it, probably not.  The truth is you probably had the makings of a quick and easy dinner that would have been more healthy and more flavorful. (See the quick and easy recipe below.)

2.  You Don’t Know how to Cook

Don’t be ashamed!  There are lots of people who just don’t know what to do when it comes to the kitchen.  I have heard so many people tell me they can’t even boil water or toast bread.  My response? LEARN! It’s not hard, I swear!  I think sometimes we watch cooking shows and become so caught up in what we don’t think we are capable of doing that we can’t learn anything.  First of all cooking shows are just that…SHOWS!  My kitchen is NOT a pretty place when I am in the midst of preparing a meal.  I don’t have a staff that does all my prep work for me or one that cleans the dishes when I am done.  I am the one man show and it NEVER looks like what I see on TV.  My best advice to you is to step away from the TV and learn how to cook from a real person.

If you have a friend who is an amazing cook as her for some pointers.  Ask her to help you prepare a meal or if you can help her prepare a meal.  Ask her for her favorite recipes, for a list of her favorite kitchen tools.  Ask her to tell you stories about when she learned to cook.  Not everything in the kitchen is always picture perfect and even the most highly trained chefs make big mistakes in the kitchen every now and then.

If you can’t find a friend to help you out, take a cooking class.  There are so many options and opportunities available all around the country and some fabulous opportunities right here in Arkansas!  One such place is the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute in Morrilton.  I will be attending one of their cooking demonstrations next Monday and look forward to sharing my experience with you.  Other places that offer cooking classes and demonstrations locally are KitchenCo. in Little Rock, Eggshells in Little Rock, Nibbles in Fayetteville, the Ozark Folk Center in Mountain View and many of our State Parks offer Dutch Oven cooking classes.  I attended one of these last year at Jacksonport State Park and it was excellent.  (You can read about my experience in this article I wrote for The Renegade Farmer.)

3.  You’re Meals are Too Complicated

One of the mistakes beginning, inexperienced or under-experienced cooks make is choosing recipes too complicated for their current skill level.  Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourguignon may be your fiances favorite recipe but if you have little or no kitchen experience you have no business trying to make it!  Set your self up for success not failure.  Google “Recipes for the Beginning Cook” and you will likely find something more on your level.

4.  You’re Afraid of Criticism

Nobody wants to slave away in the kitchen to have their family curl up their nose at what you made.  It happens and its happened to me a lot.  Instead of getting your feelings hurt and storming off to the bedroom to cry, listen to what your loved ones are saying.  If they think the chicken is too dry, it’s probably too dry.  If the soup is too salty, taste it as you go next time.  Let your mistakes be your guide and don’t be afraid of them.  Laugh and say “You’re right it is too dry, next time I’ll reduce the cooking time.”  And hey, if worse comes to worse we’ve already established that you know the way to the closest drive-thru, right?

5. You’re Family (or You) is a Picky Eater

I grew up in Vermont where the style of food is DRASTICALLY different from the food of the south where my husband is from and where I now live.  When we first got married he didn’t like any of the foods I cooked and I didn’t like any of the greasy, fried southern staples he grew up on.  Finding a balance of what we both loved and trying new things was a challenge but also a fun adventure.  Encourage your family to set aside their preconceived notions about what they do and don’t like and pick one day a week or even every other week to try something new and different.  You will be surprised at all the new favorites you find. (See #4 Above.)

6.  You’re Not Using a Meal Plan

Meal planning doesn’t have to be complicated and doesn’t have to take a long time to do. 5 or 10 minutes of meal planning can save you loads of time in the kitchen each night.  No more repeated trips to the freezer to see if something good has magically appeared.  No more worrying if you have time to defrost the ground beef before your family goes insane with hunger.  Glance through your freezer and pantry and make a list of 5 – 7 meals you could make using things you already have, making note of items you may need to pick up.  You don’t have to schedule a specific meal for a specific night but knowing you have 5-7 possibilities will keep you further from the drive-thru.  Additionally, keeping a list of meals can help keep you out of a rut and encourage you to try new and different things.

7. You’re Kitchen Isn’t Well Stocked

A well stocked kitchen is directly tied to meal planning.  If you know what you are planning to make during any given week you can check your pantry and make sure you have everything you will need on hand.  Nothing is worse than thinking about that spaghetti you are going to have for dinner all day than to get half way through cooking and realize you don’t have any sauce.  Last minute trips to the store are frustrating and costly and since that grocery store is probably right  next to several fast food joints it’s no wonder we are tempted just to eat out.

8. Your Kitchen is Unorganized or Dirty

Nothing turns me away from wanting to cook more than walking in to find a sink-full of dirty dishes.  This is by far my biggest weakness in the kitchen. I HATE doing the dishes and I have been known to leave a sink full of dishes for the next day.  This really only compounds the problem.  Enlist your significant other to help out with the clean-up or better yet have your kids do it!

Secondly, not having the tools you need when or where you need them to be can also be frustrating.  If you have a small kitchen with inadequate storage like I have, this can be a constant issue.  I have found that a few minutes of prep before hand to gather all the tools I will need will save me from a frantic search while three different things are boiling over on the stove top.

9.  You Don’t Have the Right (Adequate) Tools

A well-crafted sharp knife can do wonders in the kitchen.  A simple change such as this one can change everything about the way you cook.  A good knife will save you loads of time and give you something to be proud of.  You might want to read about the 5 Kitchen Gadgets I Can’t Live Without or you might want to check out this list by my friend Beth.

10. It’s Too Hot

Cook SEASONALLY!  Summer is a time for fresh, quick cooking foods not the hot, thick, slow-simmering stews and casseroles we enjoy in the winter.  Visit you local farmer’s market. Buy local and buy in season. Ask the farmers how they prepare the food.  Most summer foods lend themselves to quick cooking methods so take advantage of them and get in and out of the kitchen faster.

A Meal you can Cook Tonight: Panzanella Salad

1/2 a french bread loaf, cubed and toasted (Any bread will do except for “soft” sandwich style bread)
1 Red or Yellow Pepper, chopped
1/2 large Red Onion, sliced thinly
2 Fresh, RIPE, Tomatoes, chopped
Kalamata Olives
Ham, Turkey, Canadian Bacon, Pepperoni, and/or Salami, chopped into bite-size pieces (optional)
10 fresh Basil leaves, chiffonade
2 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
Italian Salad Dressing

Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl.  Add Italian Dressing to coat to your liking. I usually use 4-6 Tbsp depending on the amount of bread.  Let sit in fridge 15-30 minuted before serving.

Other Options:

Substitute the bread with your favorite bite-sized pasta noodle.
Serve with grilled chicken to make it more of a meal.



A Farm Map

I have always loved maps.  When I was a kid I had a friend named Hope.  We liked to draw maps.  We had notebooks full of maps of my house, her house, the woods, our church, our schools, our neighborhoods, whatever we could think of.  We sometimes  used the maps to trick her little brother into searching for some invented treasure just so he would leave us alone.  Beyond that I am not really sure what we did with them other than draw them and stick them in a really cool Trapper-Keeper that was dedicated solely to our map collection.

At some other point in my life it became my goal to get in the Guinness Book of World Records for making the worlds largest hand-drawn maze.  I drew it all over a bunch of sheets of paper I had taped together.  I wonder what happened to that thing?  I never did get in the book.

Some of my favorite projects that I had in high school and college were the ones that involved drawing and coloring maps.  I would spend hours to reach painstaking accuracy and color perfection on each of my maps.  When I saw kids turn in projects that were quickly done it made my skin crawl.  How could they disrespect the map?

I can get lost in an atlas for hours.  In the early years of our marriage, before the wide-spread use of GPS, I would get out my highlighter and carefully mark every road we would take to our destination.  I would even make notes about road construction, good bathroom locations and cool places to stop.

The weirdest part is that when it comes to maps I have a near photographic memory.  I could look at a map from my house to some random destination 600 miles away for a few minutes and never have to look at it again.  I could get in my car and drive there without a second thought.

I love to build a picture in my mind when people tell me stories.  I thought perhaps a map of our farm would help you to visualize things when I tell you stories about the garden or farm.



1. Our House
2. Chicken Coop
3. Garden
4. Willow Tree
5. Brooder House and Pen
6. Horse Trailer
7. Shed
8. Pump House
9. Wood Pile
10. Hay Bails
11. Sycamore Tree
12. Pecan Trees
13. Sycamore Tree
14. Hammock
15.  Gazebo
16. Fire Circle Pit
17. Bradford Pear Trees (No actual fruit)
18.  Strawberry Beds and Blueberry Bushes
19. Mother-in-Law’s House
20. Pool
21. Bradford Pear Tree
22. Various Fruit Trees
23. Barn
24. Tractor Barn
25. Horse Pasture
26. Foundation of Old Home Place

Super Cool Giveaway!

I am making some changes here on the good ole’ blog! I hope you stick around through the construction because there are some great things happening here “Where Creativity Meets the Farm”.  Here is what you can expect:

1.  A New Name – My blog will now be “Eggs and Herbs” not all that WillowTreeCreek stuff.  My Studio and Farm is still called WillowTreeCreek but the blog title, the blog address, the facebook page and the twitter page will all be called Eggs and Herbs!  That’s much easier and practical don’t you think?

2.  A new Blog Banner – yes there is a new one up there now but it is temporary.  I had some junky junk about the old one and needed to get it gone! I have a friend helping me out with a new one! Look for it soon!

3.  More food and recipe posts.  Yummy recipes and yummy photography! I hope you “eat it up”!

4.  An updated Recipe Cards section.  What? You haven’t seen my recipe cards section?  Look up at the top of the page.  See that little button that says ‘Recipe Cards’?  Click it…but don’t forget to come back to enter the giveaway below!

5.  Artsy Love.  I’ll be sharing projects, tutorials and all kinds of creative adventures.  Come get your craft on with me!

6.  Farm Friends. I’ll still be updating you from time to time on what is going on in the garden and around the farm with the chickens, cats, horses and dogs.

7. Guest Posts and Features. I’ll be featuring the writings and sites of some of the other amazing and talented bloggers out there! (Interested in writing a guest post?  Contact me at!)

8.   Giveaways, just like I am doing tonight.  I will be giving away all kinds of goodies in the future so keep checking back!

Tonight’s Super Cool Giveaway

One lucky winner will receive this set of 6 super funky colorful coasters that I made!


These coasters were inspired by a tutorial from Amy over at Artsyville.

In addition you will receive a variety of other little goodies and a reusable bag that I scored at the recent Arkansas Women Bloggers get-together!

Entering is easy and you have several chances! Here are the details:
Leave a SEPERATE comment for each entry!

1.  Leave a comment below telling me you want to win!
2.  Subscribe to this blog by email, rss or networked blogs by clicking the appropriate button in my sidebar. Tell me in your comment how you chose to subscribe.3.  Like Eggs and Herbs on Facebook. (Bonus prize to my 25th FB follower!)
4.  Follow @eggsandherbs on Twitter.

Bonus Entry: Are you a Women Blogger in Arkansas or the surrounding areas? Do you want to know what’s going on with other bloggers? Do you want to make new friends and attend fun get-togethers?  Hop on over to Arkansas Women Bloggers to join the nearly 400 other women who have already done so by adding your blog to our Mr. Linky.  Then be sure to come back over here and let me know you have joined us!

You have four FIVE chances to enter!  Contest ends on July 16, 2011 at 6:00PM CST.  A winner will be selected using the random number generator at  Winner will be announced on the blog and contacted by email.  Winner will have 48 hours to claim their prize.  Failure to claim your prize will result in a new recipient being selected.

Disclosure: The coasters were hand made by me in my art studio.  Other sample products included in the giveaway were acquired as part of a “swag bag” at a recent blogging event I attended.  Other than receiving the samples I was not compensated in any way by the companies who supplied the products.  The companies do not even know who I am.  Thanks for entering!