September 30, 2014

#31DC2014 31-Day Challenge - Day 30 - Inspired by...a Tutorial

We've reached the second-to-last day of the challenge and I realized there's a nail art technique I haven't used yet—Splatter! I've watched several different tutorials to learn this technique, but I was never satisfied with how my final product came out. Finally, a few months ago, I developed my own method of doing splatter nails that works for me—maybe it can work for you too.

Anyone who does crafting probably ends up with some of these little bottles. They're a soft, squeezable plastic with a very slender nozzle. Another source for these bottles is to recycle them from "e-cig" liquid (that's how I get mine—I'm an ex-smoker and e-cigs are how I quit).

To use this method:

  1. Gather your polishes, bottles, and acetone. 
  2. Tape the fingers around the nails to protect from extra splatter (I've never found this to be necessary with this method).
  3. Put a base coat and two layers of your base color on your nails.
  4. Pour out a small amount of the first splatter polish color. Thin polishes can be used as-is, thicker polishes can be thinned with a drop or two of acetone.
  5. Squeeze the empty bottle and suction a very small amount of polish into the nozzle of the bottle. Let extra air mix with the polish.
  6. Hold the nozzle of the bottle about an inch above your nails. Squeeze the sides of the bottle with short, quick bursts to blow out the polish onto your nails.
  7. Reload polish and repeat for each nail. If the nozzle gets clogged, you can suction pure acetone up into the bottle and squeeze it out to unclog.
  8. Repeat with a new color until you're happy with the design. You can switch bottles with each color or use the same one (I usually change bottles).
  9. Remove tape (if used) and clean the splatter off your fingers with acetone.
  10. Finish up with your favorite top coat
I find this method is more accurate, less messy, and it gives me the smaller splatter drops that I prefer. Your mileage may vary.

The colors I used for this "Autumn Splatter" look are:

  • Revlon - French Roast
  • Revlon - Fall Mood
  • Sinful Colors - Pull Over
  • Sinful Colors - Big Daddy
Do you have a nail art technique you learned and then modified to fit your needs?

September 29, 2014

The Lacquer Legion - September Challenge - Crisp - #LLCrisp

I know this month's challenge at The Lacquer Legion is supposed to be about the crispness of the Autumn season, but when I see the word "crisp" the first thing that comes to mind is the magnificent Quentin Crisp!

Born on Christmas Day in 1908, Crisp was openly gay and flamboyantly effeminate during a time when it was unacceptable, and even dangerous, to be so. Yet, he always insisted on being himself and refused to conform to what other people, straight or gay, thought he should be.

When I was in high school, a movie of Crisp's autobiography The Naked Civil Servant was shown on American television (thank you PBS). It made me a life-long fan of both Quentin Crisp and John Hurt (who played Crisp in the movie). One of my favorite scenes was when Crisp volunteered for the Army during WWII but showed up to the induction center with bright red polish on his fingernails and toenails. When asked why he thought he would be a good soldier, he said that he was British and patriotic and that it didn't take any special skills to get killed. The army rejected him.

For this design, I used these colors and decorations:
  • Revlon - Elegant
  • Sinful Colors - Under 18
  • Maybelline Color Show - Onyx Rush
  • Maybelline Nail Tattoos - The Skyline Collection

In 1981, Quentin Crisp moved to New York City and loved it so much that he spent the rest of his life there. Sting wrote "Englishman in New York" after he met Crisp and they became friends.

While living in England and again in New York, Crisp listed his phone number in the public phone directory and insisted on talking to anyone who called him. I told this fact to a college friend, who didn't believe me, so we looked up his number and called him! He answered on the fourth ring with "Oh, yes?" We spoke with him for about 10 minutes and he was delightful in every way. At the end of the conversation, he told us "Enjoy your young years, my darlings. They go by oh-so fast."

When Quentin Crisp died in 1999, I was genuinely saddened as if I'd lost an old friend. I can still see him walking through New York with his trademark fedora and scarf, smoking cigarettes with the holder he grasped in his delicate fingers with their painted fingernails—refusing to be anyone other than his wonderful self.

We should all be so brave.

#31DC2014 31-Day Challenge - Day 29 - Inspired by...the Supernatural

"A friendly desert community where the sun is hot, the moon is beautiful, and mysterious lights pass overhead while we all pretend to sleep. Welcome to Night Vale."
The internet podcast show Welcome to Night Vale has been described as "Prairie Home Companion as seen through the eyes of Stephen King" and "NPR meets The Mothman Prophesies." To me it's a delightfully bizarre, creepy, and outrageously funny show that I like WAY to much.

Night Vale is a fictional desert town with a community access radio program hosted by narrator Cecil Baldwin. It also has a (ir)regular cast of characters, including Carlos the Scientist, Old Woman Josie, Hiram McDaniels the Five-Headed Dragon, and the Indian Tracker. It also has a wide variety of strange phenomenon (that everyone seems to accept as normal) including an invisible clock tower that teleports to different locations, a glow cloud that rains animals, hooded figures, black helicopters, and angels.

For today's challenge, I chose some common elements from various Welcome to Night Vale broadcasts, including the show's logo (thumb), Cecil's Cthulu-like tattoos (pointer), the hooded figures in the dog park (middle), the glow cloud (ring), and the sandstorm vortex (ring). The colors used for today's challenge are:
  • China Glaze - Spontaneous
  • Wet n Wild - Distrubia
  • OPI - Alpine White
It's almost impossible to describe how entertaining Welcome to Night Vale isit really has to be experienced in all its twisted glory. To find out more, visit Commonplace Books or listen to episodes using Podbay.
"The City Council announces the opening of a new dog park at the corner of Earl and Sommerset, near the Ralph’s. They would like to remind everyone that dogs are not allowed in the dog park. People are not allowed in the dog park. It is possible that you will see hooded figures in the dog park. DO NOT APPROACH THEM. DO NOT APPROACH THE DOG PARK. The fence is electrified and highly dangerous. Try not to look at the dog park, and, especially, do not look for any period of time at the hooded figures. The dog park will not harm you."

September 28, 2014

#31DC2014 31-Day Challenge - Day 28 - Inspired by...a Flag

Texas has a very important governor's election coming up in November. Many people don't realize that, before 1995, Texas had not had a Republican governor in 150 years. Hopefully, after 10 years of Republican rule, a lot of Texans have come to understand why and will start voting for Democrats again (despite our grossly gerrymandered voting map). 

My nail art today features the Texas flag and the design is called "Turn Texas Blue."

Just a few of the important issues riding on this election include the rising cost of college, raising minimum wage and creating more high-paying jobs, developing clean energy technology, protecting women's health, and expanding Medicare (which will create 300,000 jobs and save 20,000 lives). Although Texas has had embarrassingly low voter turnouts in that last 10 years, I hope more people realize that if they want things to change, they have to get out there and vote.

The colors and decorations I used for today's challenge are:
  • Wet n Wild - I Red A Good Book
  • Sinful Colors - Rain Storm
  • OPI - Alpine White
  • Wet n Wild - Disturbia
  • China Glaze - Spontaneous
  • Revlon - Charming
  • LA Colors - Aquatics
  • Essie - Lilacism
  • Fergie by Wet n Wild - Hollywood Walk of Fame
Go Wendy!

September 27, 2014

#31DC2014 31-Day Challenge - Day 27 - Inspired by...Artwork

When I first looked at the list for the 31-Day Challenge and saw "Inspired by Artwork," I knew immediately the artist I wanted to feature in a nail design—local Dallas artist, JVan.

His work is often classified as abstract, but much of his recent work has been more figurative. He most often paints on textured board or canvas, but he has also experimented with painting on metal, so I chose one of these paintings ("A Stitch In Time") as the basis for today's challenge.

Being an artist—whether you're painting, sculpting, writing, creating multimedia—can be a very solitary existence. If you're able to find a partner who understands and supports those periods of creative isolation, then you're very lucky. I'm very fortunate to have such a partner (and I hope he feels fortunate too) because the artist JVan is my husband. 

A Stitch in Time by JVan

We're in the process of making a new website where people can view his work and buy a wide variety of prints. It's not quite finished yet, but to see some of his work (more to come later) please visit his gallery at Fine Art America.

The colors I used for today's challenge are:
  • China Glaze - Platinum Silver
  • Wet n Wild - I Red A Good Book
  • LA Colors - Aquatic
  • Maybelline Color Show - Onyx Black
In his musical Sunday in the Park with George, one of Stephen Sondheim's characters proclaims "There are only two worthwhile things to leave behind when you depart this world of ourschildren and art." I have to say that I agree. Do you?

September 26, 2014

#31DC2014 31-Day Challenge - Day 26 - Inspired by...a Pattern

My father spent most of his professional life selling metal. Not in a scrap yard kind of way but rather selling steel and aluminum plates, rods, and other manufactured metal goods to large construction projects, auto and airplane builders, and the military. As a child, my father would take me to the warehouse where the metal was stored and I remember being fascinated by the wide variety of shapes and patterns on the various types of metal. The design for today's Pattern challenge is based on a common stamped aluminum pattern.

I used one of my new Shany stamping plates to create this pattern and I'm very please with how it came out. Stamping has been a difficult technique for me to learn, but lately I've been getting the hang of it.

The colors I used for this challenge are:
  • Wet n Wild - Undercover
  • Konad Stamping Polish - Black
  • Shany Cosmetics Image Plate #SH220
We're in the home stretch! Only five more days to go in the 2014 31-Day Challenge—have you planned out your last few designs?

September 25, 2014

#31DC2014 31-Day Challenge - Day 25 - Inspired by...Fashion

Mention my name and "fashion" in the same sentence and most of the people who know me will smile, shake their heads, and say "Bless her heart..." 

It's not that I'm a fashion victim who wears combinations that make them cringe or anything—it's just that choosing fashionable ensembles for myself isn't my strong suit. Maybe it's because I've always been such a tomboy. Maybe because my body shape (big chest, short waist, long legs) makes shopping an incredibly  frustrating experience. Maybe because I've never had a job that required me to dress up. Whatever the reason, I'm pretty good at choosing flattering clothes for everyone except myself.

Luckily, I have a few people in my life who are really skilled at selecting clothing or accessories that I love and look good on me. My mother falls into this "fashion assist" category and she bought the scarf I used as the inspiration for today's challenge. Thanks Mom!

The colors I used for today's challenge are:

  • OPI - Alpine White
  • Wet n Wild - Break the Ice
  • China Glaze - Spontaneous
  • LA Colors Art Deco Striper - Purple Glitter
Are you a fashion diva or a jeans and t-shirt kind of person? How did you choose your inspiration for today's challenge?

September 24, 2014

#31DC2014 31-Day Challenge - Day 24 - Inspired by...a Book

"Mockingbirds don’t do one thing except make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corn cribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.” 
I'm a big believer in art therapy. Not creating pieces of art to help work through psychological issues (although that's good too) but renewing yourself by looking at a painting or sculpture, reading a book, or even watching a movie. As a result, whenever I need a reminder that there are still good people in the worldevery day heroes who struggle to do what's rightI re-read To Kill a Mockingbird.

Harper Lee's novel about racism in the Depression-era South has always been balm for my soul. As a child I strongly identified with Scout (Jean Louise) Finch, the tomboy protagonist who narrates the book. Her father, Atticus Finch, was named the all-time greatest movie hero by the American Film Institute (in the superb film adaptation)—but more importantly, his character was the type of father I'd always wish I'd had. I've read the book (and seen the movie) many times, at many different stages of my life and it never ceases to be an amazing piece of literature.

The original cover art for To Kill a Mockingbird was done in orange, green, and dark brown so I created a nail design with those colors.

The colors I used for today's challenge are all from Revlon
—Provoke, Entice, French Roast, and Fall Mood. Design elements include:
  • A drawing Scout does of a mockingbird
  • A gavel to represent the trial of Tom Robinson
  • A tree with a knothole where Scout and her brother Jem receive mysterious presents from the enigmatic Boo Radley
  • Atticus' pocket watch
  • The first words Scout says to Boo
  • Leaves from the book cover design
“Miss Jean Louise, stand up. Your father's passin'.” 

September 23, 2014

#31DC2014 31-Day Challenge - Day 23 - Inspired by...a Movie

"With the coming of the Second World War, many eyes in imprisoned Europe turned hopefully, or desperately, toward the freedom of the Americas. Lisbon became the great embarkation point. But, not everybody could get to Lisbon directly, and so a tortuous, roundabout refugee trail sprang up: Paris to Marseilles...across the Mediterranean to Oran...then by train, or auto, or foot across the rim of Africa, to Casablanca in French Morocco. Here, the fortunate ones through money, or influence, or luck, might obtain exit visas and scurry to Lisbon, and from Lisbon to the New World. But the others wait in Casablanca... and wait... and wait... and wait."
The opening scene of Casablanca has a brilliant piece of narration that introduces one of the best examples of screenwriting ever created. It's concise, it grabs you immediately, it sets the tone for the rest of the movie...and it's a complete and utter fabrication! 

That's right, there was never a refugee "underground railroad" like the one described in the first two minutes of Casablanca, and yet many people believe there was. And that's one of the hallmarks of great writing—words so well constructed it allows us to completely suspend our disbelief and lose ourselves in a great story. My nail art for today's challenge is a tribute to that opening scene.

The colors and decorations I used for today's challenge are:

  • Orly - Voyeuristic Adventure
  • Kiss Nail Art Striping Polish - Black
  • Sephora by OPI - Matte Top Coat
  • Sassy & Chic Nail Jewels
I took a screenwriting course where, on the last day, we did nothing but analyze the script for Casablanca line by line—and it was fascinating! If you've never seen this movie, drop what you're doing and download it immediately... you'll be glad you did.

"Louie, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship."

September 22, 2014

#31DC2014 31-Day Challenge - Day 22 - Inspired by...a Song

Dear Sir or Madam, will you read my book?
It took me years to write, will you take a look?
I can't think of a time when I wasn't making up stories and writing them down. Writing gives me a voice, encourages my creativity, and helps to keep me sane. So what better song for the "inspired by a song" challenge than Paperback Writer by The Beatles?

In this design, I tried to show the world of a writer: books (because all writers were readers first), a keyboard, a little money (if we're lucky) and words, words, words. Writers love words!

The color and decorations I used in this challenge are:
  • Wet n Wild - Sugar Coat; Wet Cement; Undercover; Bite the Bullet
  • Sinful Colors - Bright Lucite
  • Kiss Nail Art Striping Polish - Black
  • Maybelline Nail Tattoos - Financial District Collection
  • Heart 2 Art Nail Tattoos - Comic Nation
Paperback Writer was the first song released as a single by The Beatles that wasn't a love song. It went to the number one spot in Britain, the United States, West Germany, and Australia. 

September 21, 2014

#31DC2014 31-Day Challenge - Day 21 - Inspired by...a Color

We're in the final stretch and today starts the "Inspired by..." section of the challenge. My inspiration for today's design is China Glaze's color "Hang-Ten Toes," a bright pink I wouldn't normally wear but is perfect for this design.

Founded in 1960, the Hang Ten company represented the modern surf scene to all of us in the land-locked, "flyover" states. Fashion in the 1970s included psychedelic colors, polyester, crazy prints...and it seemed like everyone had at least one article of clothing showing the Hang Ten logo! Those two little bare feet prints represented sand, surf, and endless summer to an entire generation.

In addition to Hang-Ten Toes, I used Kiss Nail Art black striping polish (with a dotting tool and a fine-stroke brush) to freehand the little feet walking across my nails. It took a little longer than I thought it would, but I'm very pleased with the result.

With only 10 more to go, what remaining challenges are you looking forward to (or dreading)?

September 20, 2014

#31DC2014 31-Day Challenge - Day 20 - Water Marble

Before today's challenge, I'd never tried the water marble technique. After today's challenge, I'll probably never do it again.

I've never tried any nail art technique as difficult to get right as this one! I always had respect for nail artists who use water marbling, but that has increased tenfold—especially the ones who make it look easy. I struggled for almost 2 hours to get something that looked halfway decent on my nails.

I did learn some important information about the water marble technique, especially from this excellent video by Ashley Savage.

  • It's REALLY messy. I taped off my fingers but I still got polish all over my hands.
  • Not all nail polishes will spread out into that nice "bull's eye" shape you need to be successful. I tried China Glaze, OPI, and Wet n Wild and none of them worked. I was finally successful with Sinful Colors (Bright Lucite and Rain Storm).
  • Water temperature definitely matters. Too warm or too cold makes the polish behave badly (clumping, drying too fast, etc.) Some people say water marbling works better with bottled water, but I didn't have any so I couldn't try it.
  • The size of the water container seems to make a difference. A shorter, shallower container worked better for me.
  • Never start as the edge of the polish when making a pattern—insert the toothpick or needle about 1/4 of the way in. (I ruined three bull's eyes before I figured this out!)
Overall, I'm glad I tried water marbling. For me, this challenge has been all about pushing myself as a nail artist. That said, this isn't one of my favorite techniques—too much effort for too little reward.

September 19, 2014

#31DC2014 31-Day Challenge - Day 19 - Galaxy

I've been an avid science fiction fan since I was very young. I read the sci-fi novels of Robert Heinlein, Ray Bradbury, Frank Herbert, Arthur C. Clarke, and many others. I loved movies like 2001: A Space Odyssey, Forbidden Planet, The Days the Earth Stood Still, and even Planet of the Apes. And do I really need to explain what a huge Trekkie I was (and still am)? But it wasn't until I was flipping channels one evening and randomly stopped on PBS that I was introduced to Doctor Who.

Sure, the original series was supposed to be more of a kid's show and it could be silly at times but I loved the idea of a Time Lord (my first Doctor was the incredible Tom Baker), who could travel to anywhere in time and space, in a ship that looked like an old English police box that was bigger on the inside. And when the new Doctor Who launched on BBC America, I fell in love with it all over again! So there was no way I could create galaxy nails for today's challenge without including a blue box careening across the universe.

I used many different colors and glitters for today's challenge.

For the galaxy:
  • Maybelline Color Show - Black Onyx
  • Orly - Masked Ceremony (an amazing black-based glitter)
  • OPI - Alpine Snow
  • Revlon - Blue Slate
  • Revlon - Cafe Pink
  • China Glaze - Spontaneous
  • China Glaze - Fairy Dust
  • Fergie by Wet n Wild - Kaleidoscope Eyes
For the vortex and the TARDIS:
  • Sinful Colors - Pull Over
  • Sinful Colors - Rain Storm
  • LA Colors - Lime Life
It's hard to described, to people who aren't Doctor Who fans, why those of us who are love it so much. But this quotes comes pretty close:
Because I've seen him. He's like fire and ice and rage. He's like the night, and the storm in the heart of the sun. He's ancient and forever... He burns at the center of time and he can see the turn of the universe... And...he's wonderful. (Doctor Who - "The Family of Blood")

September 18, 2014

#31DC2014 31-Day Challenge - Day 18 - Half Moons

Half Moon nail art designs can be really beautiful and classy. Whenever I get dressed up, I inevitably create a half moon nail art to complement my outfit.

However, for today's half moon challenge, I was feeling a little puckish and wanted to create something funand what's more fun than balloons and confetti?

I started with a neutral base coat, to make sure all the colors showed to their best advantages, then used french tip vinyls to add the glitter and create the edges of the balloons. The colors used for today's challenge are:
  • Wet n Wild - Sugar Coat
  • LA Colors - Candy Sprinkles
  • Orly - Risque Encounter
  • Revlon - Entice
  • China Glaze - Spontaneous
  • Revlon - Provoke
  • LA Colors - Aquatic
  • Wet n Wild - Wet Cement
Do you have a fun, new design you've tried during the 31-Day Challenge? Tell me about it in the comments.

September 17, 2014

#31DC2014 31-Day Challenge - Day 17 - Glitter

I have mixed feelings about glitter. In some designs, it can look really beautiful. During the holidays, especially Christmas and New Year's, it's very festive to have extra sparkle on your nails. 

However, glitter can be very difficult to work with at times. Some glitter formulas spread better than others; some have to be manipulated by hand to look right on your nails. Plus every one I've ever tried is difficult to remove.

But for all my complaining, I have many different kinds of glitter polish and use it often. My favorite glitters are ones that look more like confetti
it's like a party on my fingers! The colors and glitters I used for this gradient design are:
  • Sinful Colors - Bright Lucite
  • Revlon - Provoke
  • Fergie by Wet n Wild - Kaleidoscope Eyes
  • LA Colors - Craze
Anyone have a good trick to make removing glitter polish easier? I'd love to hear about it below. 

September 16, 2014

#31DC2014 31-Day Challenge - Day 16 - Geometric

Wow, Day 16! We're already halfway through the challenge and today I'm back in my comfort zone.

After I learned how to do gradients, the next technique I tried to master was tape masking. I soon discovered it can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make it, but it's definitely a great way to create some really amazing nail designs.

For today's geometric challenge I used regular Scotch tape, but instead of applying one color to the entire nail, I used different colors for the individual sections. I used a neutral color for the base to achieve another negative space effect (see Day 1 of the challenge for my first negative space design).

The colors used for today's challenge are:

  • Wet n Wild - Sugar Coat (neutral base)
  • China Glaze - Spontaneous
  • LA Colors - Aquatic
  • China Glaze - Purple Panic
How are you feeling now that we're halfway through the challenge? Are you going to make it all the way to the end? Let me know what you think in the comments below.

September 15, 2014

#31DC2014 31-Day Challenge - Day 15 - Delicate Print

Mehendi (or mendhi)—the art of decorating the hands and other parts of the body with hennahas always been fascinating to me. The patterns and designs created by henna artists are beautiful and intricate and application can take many hours.

I've wanted to create a mehendi nail design for a while now, but the intricacy of the designs are kind of intimidating. However, I promised to push myself out of my comfort zone during this 31-day challenge, so I finally worked up the nerve to take on this design.

My freehand painting skills have improved, but I'm still not confident enough to try such a complicated design, so I used a Sharpie marker (another new technique I've wanted to try) over a bronze-tone polish. A small "bindi" jewel on the ring finger finishes off the look. The colors and decorations for today's challenge are:
  • Revlon - Fall Mood
  • Sharpie Fine Point - Black
  • Sassy & Chic Nail Jewels
Although the design isn't as "delicate" as I'd like it to be for this Delicate Print challenge, as first attempts go I'm please with how it came out. This is how we self-taught newbies learnby trial and error. Next time it will be better.

Do you have a new nail art technique that you've tried, or are planning to try, during the 31-day challenge? Tell me about it in the comments below.

September 14, 2014

#31DC2014 31-Day Challenge - Day 14 - Flowers

The Gerbera Daisy (or African Daisy) is one of my favorite flowers. With their large blooms and wide variety of bright colors, they always seem so happy and cheerful to me. 

I've created nail art designs with flowers before, but I've never created any with gerbera daisies, so today's challenge seemed like a good opportunity to try it.

Today's challenge was also a good opportunity to get some more freehand practice. I painted the petals of each flower with a base color, then highlighted with a secondary color. To finish up, I used a dotting tool to make the dark centers. The colors I used for today's challenge are:

  • Revlon - Entice
  • Sinful Colors - Pull Over; Big Daddy
  • China Glaze - That's Shore Bright; Hang Ten Toes; Sun of a Peach
  • Revlon - French Roast
Receiving a bouquet of gerbera daisies will always make my day a little better. Do you have a favorite flower? Have you ever created a nail art design with that flower? Let's discuss it in the comments below.

September 13, 2014

#31DC2014 31-Day Challenge - Day 13 - Animal Print

Regarding today's design: I'm not sure I've ever done nail art that looked so different from how I imagined it and yet that I was still so pleased with how it came out. 

Last school year, I was helping my son do a science project and I came across a picture of a beautiful tropical snake with purple scales that faded into its yellow belly and jewel-like green eyes. When I was planning today's design, I knew I wanted to do an "homage" to that snake.

However, once I started the design, nothing went right. I had planned to use netting and a sponge to make the scales, but I ended up with a muddled mess. Desperate for an alternative, I looked through my stamping plates and, luckily, I had one that looked like reptile scales. But when I tried it, I realized I had to adjust the colors I'd planned to use. Plus, I'd never created a nail stamp with more than a single color, so it took several tries to get the technique to work. Finally, I ended up with something I liked.

Not at all what I had in mind, but the more I looked at the finished design, the happier I was with it. The colors I used for this design are:

  • Wet n Wild - On A Trip
  • Wet n Wild - Disturbia
  • Sinful Colors - Pull Over
  • Sinful Colors - Call You Later
  • Maybelline Color Show - Onyx Rush
Have you created a "nail fail" that ended up looking better than you anticipated? Let's discuss it in the comments below.

September 12, 2014

#31DC2014 31-Day Challenge - Day 12 - Stripes

For some reason, the combination of pink and black—especially when it includes stripes—always reminds me of Paris. I don't know why but it's that association that inspired the design for today's challenge.

I visited France many years ago during a student exchange program, but unfortunately never made it to Paris. I was studying in Great Britain and a group of us rode the Hovercraft across the channel and spent a few days in Calais. I hope to go to Paris in the not-too-distant future with my husband and my son (fingers crossed).

Once again, I'm pushing myself to do more freehand work so the stripes, graphic, and lettering were all done by hand.

The colors and decorations used in this design are:

  • Sinful Colors - Starfish
  • Maybelline Color Show - Onyx Rush
  • Kiss Nail Art Striper - Black
  • Sassy & Chic Nail Jewels
Do you have a color or color combination that reminds you of a specific time, place, or memory? Let me know in the comments below.

September 11, 2014

#31DC2014 31-Day Challenge - Day 11 - Polka Dots

I wasn't sure I liked matte polishes or matte top coats when they first became popular. However, although I don't think they look good with every design, some nail art really comes together when created with matte polishes or finished with a matte top coat. I think this design goes in that category.

I love the art of the aboriginal people of Australia—especially the style created with dots. I've been waiting to do nail art using this style and today's challenge gave me the perfect opportunity.

Not a traditional polka dot design, I admit, but it was really fun to create! The colors used for this challenge are:

  • Sephora by OPI - Caught With My Khakis Down
  • Sinful Colors - Big Daddy
  • Wet n Wild - Wet Cement
  • OPI - Alpine Snow
  • Revlon - French Roast
  • Revlon - Fall Mood
  • Orly - Voyeuristic Adventure
  • Maybelline Color Show - Onyx Rush
  • Sephora by OPI - Matte Top Coat
Do you have a design you've wanted to try, but haven't yet? Let's talk about it in the comments below.

September 10, 2014

#31DC2014 31-Day Challenge - Day 10 - Gradient

The first nail design I learned to do was a gradient. I may have seen it online or in a magazine, but it was at the beginning of the "ombre" trend in fashion and I really liked the way the design looked on the nails. So I did what any geek girl does when she needs information—I Googled it. This was the first time I realized what a vast reservoir of information there was online about nail art.

Gradient designs are still some of my favorites. The one I created for today's challenge is a tribute to that first design, which was also done with various shade of blue. The colors I used are:

  • Sinful Colors - Rain Storm
  • Revlon - Blue Slate
  • Sinful Colors - Bright Lucite
  • Maybelline Color Show - Onyx Rush
  • OPI - Alpine Snow
What's your favorite nail technique or design? Let me know in the comments below.

September 9, 2014

#31DC2014 31-Day Challenge - Day 9 - Rainbow

What's so amazing that keeps us stargazing...
Today's challenge is all about, and inspired by, my son. Please indulge me while I explain.

When I was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer, my son was almost 3 years' old. I was constantly exhausted from my treatments and could not keep up with the natural energy level of a 3-year-old boy. But every day, my son and I would find something we could do together—reading books, watching movies or, on really bad days, just snuggling on the couch—and we became emotionally closer than ever before.

One day, we were watching The Muppet Movie. I had seen it, but he never had. When the song "Rainbow Connection" came on, I began to sing along with Kermit. My son loved it and, after that day, he would ask me to sing "the rainbow song" any time he needed comfort or just wanted to feel closer to me.

While discussing today's Rainbow challenge and debating what design to create, my now-8-year-old son rolled his eyes at me like I was the most clueless mom in the world. "Mom, you have to do our song!" Of course I did (DUH!).

The multitude of colors used in this design are:
  • "Sky" base: Sinful Colors - Bright Lucite
  • Clouds: OPI - Alpine Snow
  • Red: Wet n Wild - I Red A Good Book
  • Orange: Sinful Colors - Big Daddy
  • Yellow: Sinful Colors - Pull Over
  • Green: Revlon - Entice
  • Blue: Sinful Colors - Rain Storm
  • Purple: Wet n Wild - Bite the Bullet
  • Lettering: Sally Hanson Nail Art Pen - Black
My son is a "big boy" now, but we still sing our song all the time (especially at bed time). I've been in relationships that had "a song" but none are as special as "Rainbow Connection." I hope my son never gets tired of singing it.

September 8, 2014

#31DC2014 31-Day Challenge - Day 8 - Metallic

I've always liked the combination of silver and purple, so for today's Metallic challenge I used a silver metallic and a holographic purple. Since I rarely wear either metals or holos, I learned two very important lessons from this challenge.

  1. Lesson #1—Metals and Holos Show Ridges
    My nails have some pretty serious ridges in them that only got worse after I'd been through chemo. As a result, I buff the ridges down and use a ridge-filling base coat (sometimes two coats). But with these polishes, the ridges still show quite a bit.
  2. Lesson #2—Metals and Holos Are Difficult To Photograph
    About six months ago, I invested in a light box and it's made a huge difference in the quality of my photographs (it's also great for photographing my husband's smaller art pieces). But I had a terrible time trying to get this design to photograph well and show the polishes to their best advantage. I reverted to my old method of taking the picture in the sunlight, but I still had problems. In the end, I went with the light box photos.
The colors and decorations I used for this challenge are:
  • China Glaze - Platinum Silver
  • China Glaze - No Plain Jane
  • Fing'rs Heart2Art - Embellish Me Rhinstones
If you can give me any tips about the ridges or the photographing issues in the comments below, I would greatly appreciate it.

September 7, 2014

#31DC2014 31-Day Challenge - Day 7 - Black & White

I'll admit it...I was dreading the Black & White challenge. Not because I couldn't think of a design or because I didn't think it would look good on my nails, but for a much simpler reason—I really hate working with white polish.

I tried many different white polishes before I found one I was halfway pleased with (OPI's Alpine Snow) but I still tend to avoid nail art that requires a white base. But I'm so thrilled with how this design turned out, I'm determined to try more of them in the future.

Even though I once lived in a little California town of about 7,500 people I'm a city girl at heart. London, New Orleans, and San Francisco are just a few of my favorite cities in the world. But for today's challenge, I'm paying tribute to the city I grew up in and where I currently reside

To achieve the look of the Dallas skyline, I used a cityscape nail tattoo set as a base, then freehanded the design to make a couple of the iconic Dallas buildings. The colors and decorations I used are:
  • OPI - Alpine Snow
  • Maybelline Color Show - Onyx Rush
  • Kiss Nail Art - Black
  • Revlon - Grafitti (one of my favorite top coats)
  • Maybelline Nail Tattoos - The Skyline Collection
On a side note: please don't assume all Texans—especially those of us who live in the larger cities like Dallas and Austin—are right-wing conservatives, just because that's how we're portrayed in the media. Before the Bush/Perry era, Texas didn't have a Republican governor for 150 years! Gerrymandered districts keep sending conservatives to Washington and they're not an accurate reflection of our true political make-up. Check out this article for more information (and a laugh). 

September 6, 2014

#31DC2014 31-Day Challenge - Day 6 - Purple

When I am an old woman, I shall wear purple...
Today's challenge features the color purple and, although its my favorite color and I have more purple polishes than any other color, I had a difficult time deciding which design to create.

When I first began to look up information about nail art, the criticism I read most often was that nail art was too "garish" or too "juvenile" for older women to wear. This same criticism was often used to describe brighter colors (like purple) when worn by those of us in the 40+ club. However, I've seen a lot of beautiful, classy nail art created with colors from every part of the spectrum. So, I grabbed one of my brightest purples for today's challenge to show how any color can be used in a lovely, subtle design.

I'd seen a design similar to this one created with beige and soft pink (which was very nice) but I think it works with brighter colors too. I created this effect by making a diamond grid pattern with striping tape and lightly sponging the darker color onto the tips. 

The colors and decorations used in this design are:
  • Wet n Wild - On a Trip
  • Wet n Wild - Disturbia
  • Cina - Ice Sparkles Rhinestones
Do you have a favorite color or polish that the "general consensus" thinks is not right for you (but you wear anyway)? Let me know in the comments below.

September 5, 2014

#31DC2014 31-Day Challenge - Day 5 - Blue

I've always loved turquoise. Maybe because my grandfather was Native American (you can't really see it in me, but my brother has beautifully classic features) or maybe because turquoise is so versatile. The colors range from pale sky blue to dark blue green, and even—in some rare cases—vivid purple. More than any other precious or semi-precious stone, no two are ever alike.

For today's Blue challenge, I took my inspiration from one of my favorite turquoise variations. I used a turquoise polish for the base and created the black and gold veins using the saran wrap technique.

If you've never used the saran wrap technique, give it a try. It's very easy and you can get a variety of beautiful effects with it. Nailasaurus has an excellent tutorial about how to do it (it's how I learned).

I finished up with a feather detail on my ring finger. I've never freehand painted a feather before and I'm very pleased with the way it came out.

The colors I used for today's design are:

  • China Glaze - Turned Up Turquoise
  • Revlon ColorStay - Blue Slate
  • Sinful Colors - This Is It
  • Maybelline Color Show - Onyx Rush
I think it ended up looking a lot like turquoise, but let me know what you think in the comments below.

September 4, 2014

#31DC2014 31-Day Challenge - Day 4 - Green

Hurray! Today's challenge starts the part of the color spectrum I like in nail polish—greens, blues, and especially purples (to paraphrase Shelby in Steel Magnolias, "Purple is my signature color.")

Of all the greens in my polish collection, this is my favorite. It covers in one coat (although I used two here, so the color would really pop) and it's one of the best self-leveling polishes I own. I couldn't decide on a design, so I did a little bit of everything.

The colors and decorations I used are:

  • Revlon - Entice
  • OPI - Alpine Snow (pointer)
  • Kiss Nail Art - White (ring finger)
  • Fergie Wet n Wild - Kaleidoscope Eyes (pinkie)
  • Cina - Ice Sparkles Rhinestones (middle finger)
  • Kiss Nail Art - Flower Rhinestone (thumb)
Do you have a "go to" polish or color? Tell me about it in the comments below.

September 3, 2014

#31DC2014 31-Day Challenge - Day 3 - Yellow

Since I started creating my own nail art, I've been in awe of artists who are able to freehand incredibly intricate designs directly onto their nails. Even though I have some background in acrylic painting and I have a good set of nail art brushes, I continue to struggle with the freehand technique.

When I decided to participate in the 31-Day Challenge, I promised myself to include a personal challenge to try more techniques that are new to or difficult for me. So, for today's yellow challenge, I added freehand purple and gray splashes to the design. The final effect is supposed to be reminiscent of "Yellow Submarine."

On a side note—it wasn't difficult for me to choose a yellow polish for today's challenge, since I only have one (shocking, I know...LOL!)

For today's challenge, I used:
  • Sinful Colors - Pull Over
  • Wet n Wild - Disturbia
  • Wet n Wild - Wet Cement
Maybe doing such an abstract design is cheating a little—I mean, no one can really say I got an abstract design "wrong"—but I did freehand all of it and, for me, that's a big accomplishment.

What nail art technique do you struggle with or was hard for you to learn? Tell me in the comments below.

September 2, 2014

#31DC2014 31-Day Challenge - Day 2 - Orange

I rarely wear orange polish, except at Halloween—it doesn't go with my coloring and I prefer cool colors (blues and purples) to warm ones. However, I bought a China Glaze summer neon collection back in May and got this bright peachy color.

The first time I used this color in a nail art design, I combined it with black decals and a black and white glitter. I was pleased with how it looked, but I think I like this new design better—the silver stripes and glitter tips give it more of a warm-weather feeling.

The colors used in today's challenge are:

  • China Glaze - Sun of a Peach
  • China Glaze - Fairy Dust
  • Kiss Nail Art - Silver
  • Cina - Silver Star Rhinestones
Can anyone tell me if all neon polishes have almost a matte/satin finish before you put on a top coat? My China Glaze collection are the first neons I've ever used and I was surprised they didn't have a glossy shine to them.

September 1, 2014

#31DC2014 31-Day Challenge - Day 1 - Red

And away we go...

I'm very excited for the start of the 31-Day Challenge. Each day, participants will create a new design based on a predetermined list. We will all use the tag #31DC2014 so we can find and admire each other's designs across all the social media platforms.

Since this is the first time I've done this, I'm starting with a simple design for the Red challenge.

I've seen a lot of nail art using negative space recently and I really like it. So of course, I had to try it! This 60/40 design combines my favorite red polish with a natural nail negative space and a few small white dots, finished off with a matte top coat. The colors used for today's challenge are:
  • Wet n Wild - I Red a Good Book
  • OPI - Alpine Snow
  • Sephora by OPI - Matte Top Coat
I promise that I have some flashier designs planned for later in the challenge. I can't wait to see everyone else's creations!