Art & Fire

Is it just me, or does a mantel look so plain and blah once you remove the festive garland and stockings? That post-Christmas fireplace always makes me want to switch up the decor to give it a fresh look, which is exactly what I've been working on ever since we took the Christmas decorations down a week ago.

Every time I change the mantel and hearth, I feel like the entire living room gets a facelift. I think the new art above the fireplace makes our space feel completely different!

For those of you that don't know, I like to paint and draw as a hobby. I've been doing it all my life, and it's something I find very relaxing and therapeutic (not to mention gratifying, since it feels so good to see your vision come to life on paper).

I decided we needed a new painting over the fireplace, but I had no interest in buying one. (Who has any interest in making big purchases after seeing their post-holiday bank balance? Eesh!) A couple of months ago I bought these arabesque tiles at the flea market, so I got the idea to use one as a stencil. I grabbed a scrap piece of MDF from the garage (left over from this DIY Cornhole project) and traced the tile all over it.

At this point, I still wasn't sure what I was going to do with the art piece. I couldn't decide between using a bunch of colors or going with different shades of one color. I was debating whether it should be painted randomly or have the colors fade into one another, and I couldn't come up with anything I really loved.

Then I started talking to myself (inside my head): "Why didn't you paint a pear? You've been wanting to paint a pear for a long time, but now you've spent forever tracing these tiles all over the wood. You can't turn back now!" After more mental debate, I decided to use both concepts to make what I'm now calling the "Pixelated Pear."

If you're looking for a quick piece of artwork, I don't recommend this method! It's a bit tedious. About halfway through I was thinking, "I better like this when I finish or I'm going to be so mad that I've wasted my time!" If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you probably saw some pictures of my progress. I plugged along on it over the course of a couple of days, painting while watching college football bowl games with the husband. He gave me his big TV box to paint on right in the middle of the living room.

When I was finished, I snapped this cell phone picture. I was so relieved that it came out like I hoped and was actually nice enough to hang in the house!

My bored husband (who has been on Christmas vacation for the past two weeks) was very sweet and decided to frame it for me while I was at work. He used a 1"x2" strip of cabinet-grade wood that he painted white and cut to 45 degree angles in each corner. He nailed it into the MDF that I painted on using finishing nails.

Thank you to those of you who gave suggestions on our Facebook page for how to accessorize the mantel around the new artwork. It was looking a bit lonely up there, so I shopped our house for some decorative accents that might look nice with it. I ended up with a manzanita branch inside a tall vase and three wooden candlesticks stacked in a pyramid. The hearth needed to be softened up, so I added a natural woven basket with a blue and white rugby-striped throw to bring out the blue shades of the painting. The other side of the hearth houses some extra pillows, including a green/blue pattern that also brings out the shades of the art. 

When we put up the new painting, it was quickly apparent that our living room rug needed to go. We used to have this one, which was filled with brown and red shades. It just didn't coordinate with the art at all, and I've been wanting to get away from the red/yellow/brown shades in the main living areas.

 The 6x10 rug was a complete steal from Target at $165 on clearance, and it still sells for $315 on the Target website. We put the rug on Craigslist and were able to sell it for $140. Not bad, considering what we paid for it! Then we moved the rug from our room into the living room as a placeholder until we find one we really love. It's very neutral and has some green and blue shades, so it works well the new Pixelated Pear.

So, what do you think of the new look for the mantel? Do you like the painting? It's very "me," because I love pears!

* New Year, New Art *
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