Sunday, December 18, 2011

Night Owl

I am so excited to share my latest charcoal drawing with you all.  I am such a night owl and this image came to mind late one evening...

Are you a night owl too?  If you'd like this little guy to keep you company all night long, prints are available for purchase in The Shop.  There are two sizes to choose from as well as several framing options.

Also, you'll see some other new additions...

If you're interested in purchasing the original drawing, send me an email at and we can discuss price, framing, and shipping.
And finally, I'd really love to know what you think!  Your comments, thoughts, criticisms, and suggestions are always welcome.

Thanks for stopping by.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Open for Business

The Shop is officially open!  (Find it in the top tab bar on the far right)

My work is now available for purchase through Society6 where you'll find affordable Art Prints, Framed Art Prints, and Stretched Canvases all in various sizes.
They also offer T-Shirts, Hoodies, iPhone Cases, and Skins for Laptops, iPods, iPads, and iPhones.  I'm working on adding these options soon.

If you don't know what Society6 is, I highly recommend getting acquainted with it.  There, you'll find an incredible collection of artwork created by artists from all around the world.  When you purchase a product from Society6, they produce it using only the highest quality materials, and ship it to you on behalf of the artist (that's me).

Find out more about their products and how they produce them here.

And here's a little behind the scenes video of how they hand make Stretched Canvases, one at a time, when they're ordered.

Society6 Stretched Canvas - a day in the life from Justin Wills on Vimeo.

The attention to quality craftsmanship is one of the reasons why I've chosen to make my art available through Society6.

So right now, you'll find some of my photographs in The Shop.  I am currently finishing up a new charcoal drawing and will be posting it as soon as it's ready.  Can't wait to show you!

Thanks for stopping by.

UPDATE Jan, 3, 2014:  I have since removed my shop and Society6 profile.  At this point in my life, I have other priorities that deserve my time and focus.  Thank you for all of the support and I still do accept some commission work from time to time.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Cottage Bench Drawing

Today I'd like to share a snapshot of my most recent drawing...

Cottage Bench . charcoal on paper . 8x10 . 2011

It's a smaller version of Cottage Chairs and was commissioned by a lovely couple from the church that I grew up going to.  Their family built the cottage that we rent every summer where these chairs sit overlooking the beach.  Just like the cottage, this unique bench was hand-built.

Drawing at a smaller size was a little bit difficult and at one point I wasn't sure if I could actually do it.  The last thing I wanted was to loose all the details and end up with a smudgy charcoal mess!  But as I kept at it, I really enjoyed the challenge.  I'm even planning on working in this smaller size for my upcoming drawings.  Until next time...

Thanks for dropping by.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Bows, Boughs, and a Giant Grapevine Ball

Lately, I've been working on our outdoor Christmas Decorations.  Most of the supplies were given to me for free and have been re-purposed to create something fresh and new.

If you follow Charcoal & Crayons on Facebook or Twitter, then you may have already caught a glimpse of how our house looks all dressed up for the season.  Here is where you'll find the details...

This year my mom gave me a big box of her old outdoor Christmas decorations with instructions to use what I wanted and to rip apart or throwaway what I didn't.  Fun and right up my ally!

So the evergreen garland received just a slight makeover that included re-wrapping the lights and removing some little silver bows.  The red balls were already attached.  I thought about taking them off, but it seemed a little too tedious and besides, I quite like the pop of red colour that they provide. Twist ties (twisted together to make them longer) made attaching the garland to our porch a simple task.

Ribbons & Bows
After watching this great video, making three bows out of ribbon was pretty simple too.  Two spools of wired ribbon were actually the only items that I purchased (under $20).  A sprig of cranberries (from the box of goodies) was tucked into each bow.

Through the Grapevine
When my Mom heard that I was looking for grapevine branches, she immediately offered up the ones from her and her husband Sam's garden.  They get pruned every year and instead sitting by the curb as yard waste, they took a trip to our house.  Local nurseries may also have grapevines available, if you're on the hunt for some.

One Giant Ball
Years ago, I worked at a lovely little museum within an old Victorian style house.  At Christmas time, I made several large lighted grapevine balls for the front porch.  They were absolutely beautiful, so I wanted to create the same effect at our house this year.  Here's a look at the front of our house in the summer...

I originally wanted to make 3-6 balls to hang on both the upper and lower porches... but only ended up with one.  Lesson learned: need A LOT of grapevines to do this.  I think the best way is to add more elements every year and gradually build our Christmas decor collection.

 Plus, they aren't exactly the easiest things to make.  It's been quite a few years since I made them at the museum, and this time around, my first attempt was not pretty.  But by starting over and through trial and error, I figured it out.  If you're thinking of making large hollow grapevine balls like these, here are a few tips...

  • I used jute string to tie branches together because that is what I had on hand.  Florist or craft wire might be a little easier.
  • Tying branches together in bundles works so much better than using each one separately.
  • For example, start with the longest branches and tie 2-3 together.  Then shape them into a circle, similar to a wreath.
  • Wrap another bundle cross ways around the wreath shape and secure.
  • Shorter branch bundles, can then be added in, tying at the top and bottom poles of the sphere... in curved shapes.  Like this  )
  • Tuck in extra branches where necessary.

I apologize for the lack of photos with these tips.  Since I was pretty much flying by the seat of my pants, I was too focused to remember to take pictures!  So if you have any questions, please leave a comment or send them to

The final step was to add two strings of lights to the inside the ball. This creates a beautiful nighttime glow on our front porch.

I have since added ribbon at top of the ball, hiding the extension cord.  I'm not sure if I like the way this looks and I think some greenery would look better... maybe that will be a project for next year!

Rudolph's Roost
The final touch to our holiday home this year was handmade by my Mom and Sam.  This little guy keeps watch by the front door...

So that's about it for our outdoor decorations this year... What about you?  Is your house all dressed up for the season?

Thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

My Favourite Hat {courtesy of Love, Hadleigh Designs}

Somehow, time has a tendency to get away from me where hobbies, art projects, and the usual daily family routines are concerned.  That's one of the reasons why this post sure has been a long time coming!

Even so, there is no excuse for not sharing about this sooner...

A couple months ago I received a package from Love, Hadleigh Designs.  And inside was one of Kristin's gorgeous handmade hats.  And since I was the lucky one to win her contest, my new favourite hat was free of charge!

Isn't it beautiful?

Definitely the first thing I reach for if I'm having a bad hair day.

Throughout the process of deciding on style and colour, Kristin was absolutely lovely to correspond with.  From newborn to adult sized, her products are incredible and can only be truly appreciated in person.  And as a busy mom of 4 children, I don't know how she does it!

So if you're looking for a hat that is not only stylish, but wonderfully handmade and of exceptional quality... Love, Hadleigh Designs should be your first stop!

Thanks for dropping by.