(Wonderfully) out of my element

Remember when I said I was going to create Song Lyric Wall Art? Well, here’s the thing about that. I wanted to do it for the sheer, unmitigated, be-a-beginner-create-without-expectation-look-what-I-made magic of it. But because I’m not a crafty person (please don’t argue, I know crafty people, I am not one), I knew the only way I’d actually follow through and create something was to tell you I would.

Oh, the power you all have!

And it worked (as it almost always does). I did it, and it was ridiculously fun to be so out of my element. I can’t do that with writing. I’m never completely relaxed and unattached to the outcome when I write. It’s too much where I live; I have too many expectations of myself. But paint and stickers and artist tape?

Nothing. But. Fun.

Here’s the piece I found at a secondhand store. I admit that I fell for it instantly and almost didn’t buy it because I knew I’d be reluctant to paint over it. But then the guy behind the counter said I could have the picture for 25% off, and I took it as a sign.

I decided that I so loved the newspaper, coffee and rose in the picture, that I’d tape them off so that they’d still be in the final piece. Somehow that made the painting over part easier too, as if the original artist and I were collaborating.

Here’s how it looked during taping. Before I painted over it, I taped off the rest of the paper, and the window frame. I’d originally had a different lyric in mind, but with the coffee and the paper, I switched to Ingrid Michaelson’s “The Way I Am.”

About six coats of spray paint later, I peeled away the first letter…

And here’s the final product, which makes me unabashedly “little-kid-hey-look-what-I-did” giddy.

My friends Caroline and Pam did the project with me (together apart) and they sent me pictures of their masterpieces too. They are especially noteworthy and cool because…

Caroline painted a blank canvas to get her colors…

… and Pam painted the penguins in a paint-by-number kit.

If you decide to try it (and I highly recommend you do), please send me pictures! Thank you Caroline and Pam for playing with me! xoxo



  1. Rita on October 12, 2011 at 10:04 pm

    OMG OMG OMG!!! OMG! I love it! I love it! I love it! And I love it more that YOU”RE going to be on tv!!! and I’m off to read it right now! Something tells me I’m going to LOVE it too!

    • j on October 13, 2011 at 7:50 am

      Not TV, silly. Just live via the magic of the interwebs. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  2. Mary (@whoa_mary) on October 12, 2011 at 10:49 pm

    I could have easily guessed what Caroline’s lyric would be, but didn’t recognize your’s. I had to Google it, very appropriate for you. Nicely done ladies… ๐Ÿ™‚

    • j on October 13, 2011 at 7:51 am

      Thank you! There were other more readily meaningful lyrics I could have picked, but somehow the coffee cup and newspaper…

  3. Louise on October 12, 2011 at 11:20 pm

    Wow, they turned out great! I love the way you kept the newspaper, rose, and coffee, J, and nicely arranged. Even someone who is not a morning person (looks around innocently) would smile at your picture!

    • j on October 13, 2011 at 7:52 am

      Thanks! I’m not a morning person either, but I smile every time I come downstairs and see it. I’m like a little kid, all grins and, “I made that.” (The advantage to not being crafty is that it’s crazy-easy to impress myself.)

  4. Estrella Azul on October 13, 2011 at 4:39 am

    I love the original piece, j, but absolutely adore the way it looks after you played with it ๐Ÿ™‚
    Congrats on participating in the launch of the Curiosity Project, I’m not at all surprised Andrea asked you. You’re awesome!

    • j on October 13, 2011 at 1:31 pm

      Yay! Your first sentence made me giddy! And thank you. I’m very excited to be playing Andrea!

  5. Amy on October 13, 2011 at 6:28 am

    That is so neat! I’m not crafty either, J. You should see me try and do art projects with Haley…she practically shows me what to do!

    • j on October 13, 2011 at 1:45 pm

      I need a Haley. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  6. lunaJune on October 13, 2011 at 8:05 am

    totally awesome… will have to try it… thinking …

    the Curiosity Project.. following it now.. can’t wait to see it and you shining brightly :~)

    • j on October 13, 2011 at 1:49 pm

      You should do it. It reminded me that I don’t create without expectation nearly enough. (Plus, it’s really easy to be impressed with yourself that way!)

      I can’t wait to see where Andrea takes her curiosity adventure either. I’m very excited about it.

  7. Pam on October 13, 2011 at 8:21 am

    See? It’s so much fun to make stuff. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I love them.

    Looking forward to seeing you live on camera!

    • j on October 13, 2011 at 1:50 pm

      It IS fun to make stuff! I’ll have to visit the DIY blog more often. And it’s especially cool that, thanks to you and Caroline, I didn’t have to do it myself. Thank you!

  8. Andrea Lewicki on October 13, 2011 at 8:50 am

    Hi!!! I am so glad you’re joining me for my launch party! Back when Facebook and I were still friends I linked so frequently to your posts I felt a little obsessed. I’m thrilled that we can connect in this new, crazy way! ๐Ÿ™‚

    I love the music lyric art. I think I’m going to have to do it! I have a pile of cheapie prints that I had in frames in my old house and in my office that I know I should purge but still I’ve been clingy. Now I know just what to do with them! And I think I now know what I’m giving my friends for Christmas!!

    • j on October 13, 2011 at 1:51 pm

      I’m thrilled too! Thank you for including me!

      I love that you’ve got art to repurpose! It’s not a terrarium or anything, but it is pretty cool. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  9. Milliver's Travels on October 13, 2011 at 9:01 am

    What a fun doesn’t-matter-whether-I’m-crafty-or-not project. I loved seeing all the stages. And the results? The little kid in me loves it. :~D

    Pam’s and Caroline’s are awesome and it’s so precious that you had some other little kids to play with while you did this.

    I’m curious about The Curiosity Project ;~) Will look forward to seeing you interviewed!! I think having lots to say on a topic you’re passionate about will soon overcome any nerves you might have about being on camera.

    • j on October 13, 2011 at 5:20 pm

      Thank you, and I know. I love that Caroline and Pam played with me. Best together-apart play date ever!

      I’m curious about the curiosity project too. I’m hoping that and my eagerness always to talk about love from every angle will overcome nerves, just as you predict. #fingerscrossed

  10. Cheryl on October 13, 2011 at 9:24 am


    • j on October 13, 2011 at 5:20 pm

      Awww. Thank you, Cheryl.

  11. terrepruitt on October 13, 2011 at 11:32 am

    Oh my. Kudos to you for doing your project. I am especially proud of you painting over that great picture. I know I would have bought it and not been able to do it. I think that leaving the vase and the paper was brillant.

    This is great!

    • j on October 13, 2011 at 5:21 pm

      Thank you! “Brilliant” is good. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  12. hippiechick on October 13, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    You all rocked it out! Love these. Can’t wait to try my own.

    • j on October 13, 2011 at 5:24 pm

      Oh, I hope you do. Half the fun is seeing what lyric everyone picks. (Careful, artist tape seems like something a kitten might LOVE.)

  13. Annie Neugebauer on October 13, 2011 at 5:21 pm

    This is SO cool! Perfect for a crafter like me who’s a little jaded. I’ve never seen anything like this before. Thanks for sharing!

    • j on October 13, 2011 at 5:25 pm

      I hadn’t either. And you’re right. It’s perfect for non-crafters and jaded crafters alike!

  14. jb on October 13, 2011 at 8:41 pm

    Wow! The original picture was so beautiful, I couldn’t bear the thought of you painting over it. (I never would have been able to do it!) Eventually, my curiosity won out and I gingerly scrolled down, holding my butterfly filled stomach. Holy canoli! You made the picture look even better! What a great idea to leave the vase, coffee and newspaper showing! I think creativity is your medium – and you just found (yet) another way to express it. Yay you! Thank you for sharing your encouraging beginner’s journey.

    Confession — I set out to do this project, ran to Michael’s and was surprised to find that there’s no such thing as paint-by-number kits there. Apparently, they are out of fashion and I didn’t get the memo. It didn’t even occur to me to buy a painting instead. But that’s a much better solution for me, because the project has a higher probability of getting done. (I was concerned about how long it would take me to do a paint by numbers picture, and then how I’d feel about painting over it after all the time invested…) Okay, I’m back on the project and looking for pictures to paint over!

    Checking out the Curiosity Project next… ๐Ÿ™‚

    • j on October 13, 2011 at 9:25 pm

      Haha! I was as nervous reading your response as you were reading the post. I know, the picture was very cool before I altered it. I was nervous too. But when I got all finished, I was thrilled. You should definitely do it. It’s really cool to see it there, looking all arty, and knowing I made it. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  15. Lance on October 14, 2011 at 10:20 am

    I need to get that “Love the way you say good morning” sign and post it in the rooms of my girls and wife.” They are not morning people…at all

    good luck with your curiosity

  16. j on October 14, 2011 at 10:29 am

    Thanks! (You could commission me to do some artwork for you… but I can’t quite bring myself to recommend that.) ๐Ÿ˜‰

  17. casoly on October 15, 2011 at 7:55 am

    Love both your and Pam’s finished pieces! Like Pam said on Twitter, it’s so cool how we each tweaked the project, and I can’t help but be struck by what how we tweaked it, says about us. Pam painted something first, you salvaged something (not just the painting but the newspaper, coffee, vase), and I painted colors I wanted on a blank canvas. Hmm, creativity, creativity + control and absolute control. I think that probably sums us up in ways not intended in the project? Maybe not. Maybe my head is too full of sociological/psychological meaning and I’m projecting. :o) Either way, it was fun and I plan to do it again! Thanks J! xox

  18. j on October 16, 2011 at 4:53 pm

    Ha! I love sociological/psychological musings! You could be right. I’m not good (but getting better at) surrender (which is sort of the opposite of a need to control). Plus, I’m all about collaboration and sharing the love and connection… leave it to me to look for a way I could do this with an artist who does not know I exist. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I’ll do some version of this again too. Stay tuned! xo

  19. Annika Martins (@annikamartins) on April 19, 2012 at 7:17 am

    Gah, I love this! You’ve clearly just provided my next step up from coloring books – will send pics! xo

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