this & that

by | May 20, 2020 | a slice of life, Artistic Endeavors | 43 comments

Our weekend was mostly rainy, but it was much needed.  I’m watching our grass green up and our front garden spring to life (along with weeds that need to be pulled) out of the drenched soil.  I spent Sunday cleaning and making soup to get the week started off well.  I did take some creative time when everyone else was occupied, though.  I did prep for the next slipcovers I’ll be working on as well as some painting and drawing.

I also sent out some more happy mail!

I am taking another Jeanne Oliver class – The Working Art Journal with Pam Carriker and I’ve been making value scale charts with my pencils…

I love making little tools for art and Pam has all sorts of fun suggestions for getting to know your art supplies and making pretty and functional reference materials.

The bulk of the class is working on self-portraits in different styles.  It’s hard, but there is a reason why artists have included self-portraits in their studies for centuries.  First of all, you always have your face with you.  Second, there is a kind of humility and honesty in it.  If you can capture your own likeness, you’ll do much better at capturing the likeness of others.

I’m glad I’m doing this exercise because I am learning more about my tools (both of these portraits were done with one .5 mechanical pencil as opposed to a wide array of drawing pencils) and I’ve been able to see how much I have improved over the past couple of years.  I did a self-portrait in 2017 and the difference between that one and these portraits is pretty remarkable.  I still have a lot of growing to do, but progress is so encouraging in art.  I don’t need to be the best.  I just need to be better than I was yesterday.

I can even see improvement from the portrait above and the one below, which I did the next day.  I softened the lips and paid a bit more attention to the details of my eyes.  My boys told me I needed to fix my hair!  I told them I was just working on my face for now and that curly hair is really hard to draw with a mechanical pencil.

Drawing self-portraits feels vulnerable and sharing them is even more so.  Will people think I’m flattering myself too much?  I’m being too generous or too harsh?  You’re not only judging your drawing ability, but also your face.

In other art-related work, my board and my drying shelves are getting full, so I’ll be having an art sale soon.  I typically post first on my Instagram Stories when new paintings are listed, but I realized many of my loyal subscribers who don’t follow me on Instagram are missing out.  So, I’ll notify my subscribers of sales first before I announce them here on the blog or on Instagram.

So, if you’re interested in purchasing some originals from me…

  1. Make sure you’re subscribed to my blog
  2. Make sure my e-mails aren’t going to a spam or clutter folder
  3. Check your e-mail

In my next sale, I’ll be selling some mini landscapes, a few pieces from the #indexcardartproject, a few still life paintings from practice and my live art classes, a few landscapes on antique linen (I am loving those), and some color charts.

The linen has such a yummy texture and it forces me to do loose brush strokes and to be generous with my paint.  I do prime the linen with clear gesso before painting with oils.

I’ve been collecting fabric samples lately for some upcoming projects.  Some of them are swatches to test out before I place orders, but some of them are to use as props.  I found a couple of great fabric swatch books on Etsy…

I am definitely a paint enthusiast, but I also love fabric and textiles.  When I got the books, I immediately thumbed through them and started imagining them in rooms, on furniture, fashioned into curtains.  Does anyone else love fabric samples as much as I do??

I have already been using some swatches in photo shoots to add color, pattern, and texture and I’ve placed some orders for upcoming sewing projects.  I’m finally making some progress in the master bedroom and sewing room!

I’ve also been working on a new backdrop!  I’ve been making this one with leftover paint on my palette.  I find it so interesting that I keep ending up with variations of the same colors.  This will be a fun backdrop to use for art supplies and paintings when it’s done.

This picture doesn’t have anything to do with anything, but this post is about this and that!  This is just a picture I took a few weeks ago and didn’t have an excuse to share.  The kitties love exploring my studio and hanging out in here, especially on a sunny day.  I had to put my brushes behind closed doors, because Violet loves brushes as much as I do.  She likes to grab them in her mouth and carry them all over the house, which is not how I prefer to use them.

Their curiosity with all of my art supplies has been problematic at times, though.  This weekend, Esmé tried to jump up on my lap and her paw landed in a big pile of paint on my palette!  Fortunately, I’ve gotten enough paint on myself to know how to clean it off, so we got her taken care of even though she wasn’t happy about it.  She squirmed, but she never scratched me.

Violet later repeated the same trick when I left my palette sitting out for just a few minutes while I washed my hands and tended to my finger (which I slammed in the studio door!)  I saw a path of a single white paw print along my hardware cabinet.  Fortunately, the tracks didn’t lead out of the studio, so the paint was pretty minimal.  I still had to track her down and wash the remnants off of her paw, which thrilled her to no end.  She gave me the stink eye for a couple of hours.

Sometimes my son, Calvin, arranges the artist’s mannequins on the desk in my studio.  Typically, they are doing the dab or some kind of karate move.  This time, they were dancing and I love them.  I asked him to leave them like that for a while, because they make me smile.  They look joyful and free.

I bought this little one from the flea market in Lucca…

Lastly, why do the makers of this beautiful linen yarn wrap it around, what looks like, the top of a caution cone?  Don’t they know that there are people who like to take pictures of their supplies and they don’t want a bright orange cone mixed in with their neutral cottons, linen, and wool?  Apparently not.

I’ve thought about using my yarn winder to wind it into pretty balls and I may still do that one of these days when I have absolutely nothing else to do.

That sentence made me laugh.

And, there you have it…  a round-up of this and that.  I hope you found something you liked in that potpourri!


  1. Betsy

    I’m so excited! Maybe I’ll have a chance at purchasing one of your mini paintings. Every time I check they are all sold. Fingers crossed.

  2. Mary Ann

    I am hoping I’ll be able to purchase one of your lovely paintings! I’ve always missed out on the “sale” events.
    From one of your faithful readers who enjoys all aspects of your blog and Instagram!

  3. Maureen G Lovell

    I too hope I can “get in,” and buy! but I am loving the new “in progress” backdrop! it is going to be gorgeous!

  4. Jean M Clayton

    I love fabric, I love the smell of new fabric!!.

  5. judith

    I love it that your little boy comes in and re-poses the mannequins. That is adorable. And your self-portraits, especially the second one, are beautiful.

  6. Trina

    This and That posts are some of my favorites. Love your second self-portrait. So much softer than the first. Looks just like you! Also enjoy all your photos and how you set them up. Makes ordinary things look so artsy! I’ve imagined many of them in frames to hang in a studio.

  7. Brenda

    I love it when my cat “helps” me sew. He loves to grab thimbles, thread and other small notions to bat around. I find them in all corners of the house. I’m very grateful that it’s not paint. Although he once tried to eat a pice of thread that was threaded through a needle! Now we put pincushions in cat proof locations. As a disclaimer: No cats were harmed by their shenanigans! Love your stories about your fur balls! The dancing mannequins are awesome!

  8. Winnie

    What is that beautiful paint color on the tabletop? that the pencils are on? It’s beautiful.
    Love the classes.

    • Marian Parsons

      It is one of my backdrops that I painted in Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint. It’s 2 parts Artissimo, 3 parts Boxwood.


    I love to look at all your paintings hanging on the line…wanted to tell you that just looking at them makes me happy. I used to try to paint in oils but when our oldest daughter was in college (art major) she needed the whole set up and since we had two in college and two almost ready all of my oils and supplies went to college. She is a much better painter than I could ever hope to be. This is too long but I just wanted you to know all of us are getting happy mail when you post.

    • Terry

      Loved this whole post but the mannequins really made me smile too. Loved your use of “stink eye” which I use for all my critters since they all give it to me at one time or another.

  10. Sandy

    Loved today’s post! You have a special way of sharing. Made my day brighter. We all need a smile or a giggle and your sweet kitties sure fill the bill.
    Blessings on your day.

  11. Marilla Melcher

    As you know, fabric is one of my favorite things! 🙂 This post answered my daughter’s question about what happened to your finger. She noticed that it was injured and was quite concerned.

    • Marian Parsons

      Aw, I love that. What sweet girls you have. Yeah, I did quite a number on my finger, but it’s healing well!

  12. Jo Ann Voyer

    Don’t forget those of us who love decorating.

    • Marian Parsons

      I just posted about slipcovers earlier this week!

  13. Ramona Thompson

    I love your dancing mannequins! I laughed out loud when I saw them. Thank Calvin for the great laugh! I needed it.

  14. MaryLisa

    So talented. The self portrait is so real and full of dimension. ( I can not draw) . I absolutely love the painting of the vase with blue and white flowers! Will that be for sale?

  15. Minnie

    Love the post. Your art is pretty and picturesque. Love the country life. You could paint the orange at the top of your cone or disguise it. 🙂

  16. Karen

    Marian, you are a joy! Love your ‘this ‘n that’.. Something for everyone… Your art is always interesting. I have a love for feel & smell of fabric.. Just as I do books.. I love wood, metal, & COLOR.. The dancing by Calvin made me smile as well. Thank you for sharing …

  17. Claire Schlather Hill

    I loved reading about your cats getting in the paint. I look forward to checking my email now. I’d love the win a painting. I have one of the landscape reproductions in the kitchen (61 with the purple flowers) and one on the mantel (83 with the white barn).

  18. Julie | Home On The Hill

    Yes, I love fabrics as well. 🙂 In the patchwork quilting world they have a saying used often – ‘She who dies with the most fabric wins’. LOL I tell my husband this when he asks if I’m ever going to use all that fabric! I just enjoy looking at fabric – especially beautiful upholstery fabrics.

    I agree regards those orange yarn cones – I’m obsessed with old wooden industrial spools & could picture them wound onto some of those. I’m also a fan of wooden shoe lasts & just bought 15 child size ones at a bargain price – they add a touch of vintage whimsy to my decor. I like mostly worn & slightly beaten up wooden things that are both decorative & have been used by others in the process of creating something. 🙂

  19. Jeanne Bell

    What do you use the linen yarn wrap for? Have loved your blog for years. You are one talented lady!

  20. Melissa

    Hey, you did great on those self portraits! Yes, the second one definitely looks more like you! Great work!

  21. Pam Phillips

    Ok I’m in hope to have the chance to purchase a painting of yours!!!😬😬😬😬😬

  22. Wendy Cotter

    I love all your stories and photos. We have similar taste and I too adore fabric. Especially linen. And double gauze is lovely. I love fabric sample books too. I have a collection. When inspiration strikes it’s great to have beautiful material on hand to get right to it. I’ve really been enjoying your Facebook lives during this Great Pause. Thank you for sharing your talent and time with us. I tell my friends I’m treating this time as an art residency. Making art every day is getting me through.

  23. Jennifer Anderson

    I could totally see a difference in the eyes between those two self portraits that you shared. I think your art is wonderful and I am glad you share as you go along, instead of waiting. During this season of my life when there isn’t room for me to be creative, I am feeding my creative side from enjoying what you create, so thank you.

  24. Shirley Graham

    Love your self portraits & especially your kitties. I miss my Gabrielle & the pic of Violet is lovely. It’s laughable to hear about the kitties walking through the paint! Something mine would always do. Thanks so much!!

  25. Rhonda

    I feel the same way about the orange cone. I grow lavender and have wooden handle sickles for cutting the lavender. They have aged well and still work great. I ordered a few extra sickles from this lavender farm that I always get them from. They sent me sickles with orange plastic handles!!! Much to my dismay!! I thought they looked like hunter orange and they could have no part in my lavender gardens. I sent them back and the farm was very gracious to refund me. I explained (as best I could) why they are just not nice to look at, let alone use. Thought I would share with you my “obnoxious orange” story. I got a giggle when I read yours. Some things just do not work when esthetics are something that is important. It’s even the little things that make a big difference.
    I am not a painter but so enjoy reading and seeing your painting projects. I have tried your crochet and painting furniture tutorials. Next I may try the slipcover challenge. But for now, lavender is calling and I must listen!!

  26. Mary Kaiser

    I enjoy ALL your post! I am not a painter, but still love reading all your post. I love yarn and fabric though and NEED to know where you purchased the linen yarn on the cones. They are so beautiful on display

    • Mary

      I love fabric too! When I was younger, there were more independent fabric stores around, and I really miss them. Just wandering around them was a treat. Online fabric shopping is not quite the same, although the selection is wonderful. Happy Spring Marian!

    • Marian Parsons

      The cotton is Ecru Sugar n’ Cream yarn and that’s on the cardboard cone. The one towards the back is worsted wool from Etsy. The fine linen cone is from Etsy as well. There are many sellers who carry this sort of linen cone. I bought it to try out for the glass cozies, but it was too thin. I’ll find something else to use it for, though!

  27. Debbie

    I LOVED this post! You can pack so much into a day – fun stuff, too!

    It’s really been fun to watch your growth over the years. For some reason, this post made me reminisce about how long I’d followed you – and I always go back to your post telling about receiving your first order of “Miss Mustard Seed” paints. How far you’ve come, and what a great job you’re doing!

    I love fabric, too. For many years, I had the wonderful job of working in an interior design studio. My favorite times were “after market” when we’d receive the list of discontinued fabrics and the samples of new ones. I always claimed the job of removing the old and adding the new….keeping my favorites, just to have!

  28. Cheri Dietzman

    I love seeing your self-portraits! You should be so proud of yourself for how much progress you have made. Thanks for inspiring us to try new things!

  29. Cherie

    I love all things fabric!

  30. Connie

    This & that posts rule!! Love kitties, your art work, fabrics and just a peek into all the this’s & that’s! And if while daydreaming your way through pretty fabrics you find you don’t have a project to look for, I’ve got several that need a magic eye like yours on fabric choices – I’ll send a list!!

  31. Chris Hanson-Hughes

    Love your this and that posts. Reading your post brings smiles to my face, I enjoy the dancers, the paintings, the colors and the cats. Thank you!

  32. Carolyn Dietrich

    Your self portraits are wonderful! I love your paintings and the way your decorate. I have read your posts for a long time now and so enjoy them. You are so talented and your home is lovely. Thanks for the tutorial of making a slipcover for a chair. Thank you for sharing your talent and yourself.

  33. Kathleen

    You are remarkable in all that you attempt . I love the oil paintings and hope I can buy one too ! I am an artist , painting oils & watercolor but I always enjoy learning from others . You are truly gifted in many ways . Keep up the posts as we all enjoy reading them

  34. Camille

    The antique linen landscapes are gorgeous!

    Could you paint the orange tips? 🧡

    • Julie Muller

      I cannot draw and admire your talents and your commitment to keep reaching new heights. One comment on your self portraits – how can you add your sparkle? Such a beautiful self portrait but your energy and enthusiasm for everything that is life is the only thing missing.
      If I were to use one word to describe you and your wonderful blog it would be ‘genuine’. For so many years it has been a joy to watch you evolve artistically and in business and still find the time and energy to share with so many. Heartfelt thank you!

  35. Diane Lanford

    Oh, painting on linen sounds fun! Maybe we could do that in class. I love the colors you create. Those kittens are adorable.


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Marian Parsons - Miss Mustard Seed

I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer.  READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…


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