Zen Painting

Cassandra Tondro abstract art "Ascension"

I’m kind of in love with this painting right now. It started off as a drop cloth to catch drips and clean brushes for another painting I was working on, but then I noticed that it was really beautiful. So I stretched it and gave it the title “Ascension.” It’s 24 x 18 inches, repurposed acrylic latex paint on canvas.

When I TRY to paint like this, I fail. But when I’m not thinking about it at all, these drop cloth pieces look great. How do I turn off my mind so that I can paint like this intentionally? It’s definitely a Zen practice!

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Creative Leaf Print Postcards

I like to send cards to friends so they’ll find something cheerful and handwritten in their mailbox along with the usual plethora of bills, catalogs and junk mail. It’s fun to create your own, and small leaf prints make lovely postcards that are just the right size for a “thinking of you” note.

Leaf Print Postcard DIY Project

Supplies needed for this project:

Leaf Print DIY Postcard ProjectLeaf Prints
Make your leaf prints 4″ x 6″, or tear larger leaf prints to this size. 4″ x 6″ is the USPS regulation size for postcards. These leaf prints were created on Saunders Waterford 140 lb. cold press watercolor paper (affiliate link), which gives lovely rusts, umber, and golds and soft focus leaf prints.
Leaf Print DIY Postcard ProjectPostcard Backs
Leaf prints bleed through to the back side of the print, so I use Fabriano postcards (affiliate link) for the back of my cards. They come in pads of 20, and give the finished postcards a nice substantial weight.
Leaf Print DIY Postcard ProjectGlue or Paste
I like YES! Stikflat Glue (affiliate link). It’s a paste that’s acid-free and easy to use. It spreads easily with a finger and adheres very well.

The process:

The Fabriano postcard backs are 4″ x 5-3/4″. I like to trim a little off of the 4″ side so that they don’t show through to the front of the leaf print.

Spread YES! glue on the postcard back with a finger, and press it onto the back of the leaf print. Place under a heavy book to dry.

That’s it!  Write your note, address the card, add a stamp and pop it into the mail to brighten someone’s day!

Who wouldn’t enjoy receiving one of these beautiful postcards in the mail, and they’re also frameable as art.

Leaf Print DIY Postcard Project

If you’re not familiar with the leaf print process, you might want to check out my Introduction to Leaf Prints on Paper tutorial. Printing with leaves is an easy and fun art project that anyone can do.

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Woven Leaf Prints

Here’s a fun and easy idea for leaf prints. For this project I used two 10″ x 13″ leaf prints. I cut one into 3/4-inch strips vertically and the other into 3/4-inch strips horizontally. Maintaining the order of the strips, I wove them together using a simple in-and-out basket weave. I think the result is spectacular!

Cassandra Tondro art woven leaf prints

I taped it on the back to keep the woven strips from shifting.Cassandra Tondro art woven leaf prints

Then I put it under a double white mat in a wood frame.

Cassandra Tondro art woven leaf prints

It’s a great-looking piece of art, and so easy to do.

Cassandra Tondro art woven leaf prints

For this piece I used two leaf prints with similar colors, and you can also try it with two leaf prints that have very different colors.

If you’re not familiar with the leaf print process, you might want to check out my Introduction to Leaf Prints on Paper tutorial. Printing with leaves is an amazing and addictive art form that anyone can do.

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How to Repurpose Your Reject Leaf Prints

It’s a fact — not all leaf prints turn out good. Some are gorgeous, and some not so much. It’s part of a process where you don’t have total control. There are always those prints where the balance isn’t quite right and it throws off the design, or maybe some of the leaves didn’t print well. So what to do with the reject prints?

Usually there are sections of the prints that are pretty, so I focus on using those parts. One of the easiest ways to use the prints is to cut out the interesting areas and put them into a collage frame.

Here are three examples of my mediocre leaf prints. These prints are on the very lovely Italia Acquerello Portofino, 140 lb. hot press watercolor paper (affiliate link), which gives very clear prints and an amazing range of colors. I get beautiful yellows, oranges, browns and greens with this paper.

Cassandra Tondro Leaf Prints

These prints aren’t bad, but they’re also not spectacular, and they’re definitely not my best. So I cut out 4″ x 6″ pieces that I liked, and put them into this simple collage frame (affiliate link). This frame is especially nice because of the black-core white mat that gives a nice thin beveled line around each print. It comes in four different sizes, denoted by the size of the three openings.

Leaf print art collage frame

Or you could use a frame like this one (affiliate link) with 4″ x 4″ and 4″ x 6″ openings.

Look at how much better the cropped leaf prints look arranged in the frame. By experimenting with the order and orientation of the prints, they coalesce into a more coherent and interesting design.  And the colors of the prints really pop against the white mat.

Cassandra Tondro leaf print collage frame

It’s an easy and spectacular transformation! Now the prints are ready to hang or be displayed standing using the easel back.

Cassandra Tondro leaf print collage frame

Do you have other ideas for using “reject” leaf prints? Leave a comment below and let us know your favorite technique.

If you’re not familiar with the leaf print process, you might want to check out my Introduction to Leaf Prints on Paper tutorial. Printing with leaves is an amazing and addictive art form that anyone can do.

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Create Your Own Collectable Valentine Cards

Valentine’s Day is my favorite holiday because my birthday is the following day, and my birthday has long been associated with the day of red hearts and love. Valentine’s Day feels like my day!

I like to send out Valentine’s Day cards instead of traditional holiday cards, and for the past few years I’ve created one-of-a-kind handmade Valentines. Much to my surprise, these cards have become highly coveted items, with people framing them and collecting the series!

I thought I’d show you how you, too, can become a collected artist by creating your own beautiful contemporary Valentines. These fun cards have a modern art twist with a colorful Jackson Pollock-inspired splatter paint background. Let’s get started!

Valentine art cards

Supplies needed for this project:

Medioevalis blank greeting cardsCard Blanks
I highly recommend the wonderfully elegant Medioevalis blank greeting cards for this project. They are the most beautiful cream white cards with a soft deckle edge crafted by the Fabriano mill in Italy. And the boxes that they’re packaged in are pretty, too! The cards come in several sizes with matching envelopes, and for this project, I like the ones that fold to 4.5″ x 6.75″. You can find them in sets of 20 cards with matching envelopes, or boxes of 100 cards and 100 envelopes (affiliate links).

Valentine card art projectPaint
I like to use leftover house paint for these cards, or you can use fluid acrylic paints (affiliate link) or other water-based paint. You will need four colors and red. The four colors can be pastels, brights, sophisticated or whatever color scheme you like. The red can be a vivid scarlet red, a deep burgundy red, or even magenta.

Assorted heart stamps
Heart Stamp(s)
There are many possibilities here, and you can use one or more stamps. You can cut heart stamps out of foam or a sponge. You can use heart-shaped cookie cutters. Or you can purchase heart stamps: swirl heart, scroll heart (affiliate links).

Valentine card art project




One or more inexpensive paint brushes. The 2″ bristle house paint brushes from home improvement stores are fine, or you can use something like these utility brushes (affiliate link).




Valentine art card project
Paper Plate
You just need one, or you can use a piece of plastic or construction paper.




Here’s the process:

Lay the blank cards out in a grid on newspaper, so they can be splatter painted all at once. Using a brush, drip and splatter each of the four colors onto the cards, one color at a time. The paint doesn’t need to dry between colors. Leave some white space showing.

Valentine art card project

Valentine art card project

Carefully pick up each card by the edges, and move it to plastic or another non-porous surface to dry. The paint will stick to the newspaper.

Some paint will inevitably creep around the edges and end up on the inside of the card. Not to worry! This adds to the charm and the handmade look.

When the paint is dry, you’re ready to stamp. Using a brush, spread some of the red paint on a paper plate. This becomes your “stamp pad.”

Valentine art card project

Press the heart stamp(s) into the red paint, and print them onto the cards. You can stamp one heart, or many hearts, and they don’t need to look perfect. I paint both the front and the back of the card, so that it’s a work of art when open.

Valentine art card project

And look how awesome the cards look when they’re folded!

Valentine art cards

Who wouldn’t be thrilled to receive one of these beautiful handmade cards on Valentine’s Day?

Valentine art cards

I hope all of your loved ones enjoy these special cards, and your Valentine’s Day is filled with love, laughter and joy!

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The View From the Couch

I’m recuperating from the flu, and this painting has been my view for the past few days while camped out on the living room couch with my cats and a cup of hot tea. I’ve been thinking how lucky I am to be surrounded by original art that lifts my spirit, and how interesting it is to stare at this piece day after day and watch it change in the light and with my gaze. That’s what I like most about abstract art — it never looks the same. Every time I look at it I see something different.

Cassandra Tondro, "Dawn," abstract painting

I am reminded of Pantone’s Color of the Year for 2017 — Greenery. I don’t usually get too excited about the Pantone color selections, but this is one that I love and use a lot.

Pantone Color of the Year 2017 Greenery

Bright greens make other colors pop, like the pastels and burgundy in the piece below, titled “Meltdown” — one of my favorite paintings, that currently holds a place of honor hanging over my living room couch. Although this is not my couch. My couch has way more cat hair on it. This is a lovely staged couch!

Cassandra Tondro, "Meltdown," abstract art

Or the turquoise and teal in this painting titled “Tropical Dreams,” which is the first thing I see in the mornings, when I wake up. Again, not my bed or my bedroom. Lovely interior designer staged bedroom!

Cassandra Tondro, "Tropical Dreams," abstract painting

Green has an optimistic, life-giving quality about it. The green of the forests and the mountain ridges after a soaking rain. The chartreuse green of tender new growth in the spring.

I think Pantone knew what they were doing when they selected Greenery for Color of the Year, and it is an excellent choice. We all need a bit of hope right about now, don’t we?!!

Happy 2017! May your spirits also be uplifted by beautiful original art!

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New Leaf Prints on Paper Tutorial

I just finished my second tutorial, “Variables for Leaf Prints on Paper,” and I’m excited to share it with you! This more advanced tutorial is a follow-up to “An Introduction to Leaf Prints on Paper,” and assumes that you have a working knowledge of the leaf print process. If not, read the introductory leaf print tutorial first.

The tutorial documents the results of 40 leaf print tests examining the effects that 15 variables have on the prints. Each test is fully illustrated with photographs of the leaf prints, so you can see the results for yourself.

Variables for Leaf Prints on Paper” is a PDF file available for immediate download, and is for everyone who’s intrigued with the leaf print on paper process and wants to know more.

Leaf Print Tutorial

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Wild Cherry Bark Piece

This is a fun little piece of cotton canvas folded, clamped and dyed in Wild Cherry Bark.

Wild Cherry Bark dyed piece

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London Plane Tree Leaves

The London Plane tree leaves are starting to fall. These beauties are the size of a large dinner plate, and they make great leaf prints! I’m pressing them flat and then plan to use them to print on cotton canvas.

London Plane Tree Leaves

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Madder on Hemp

I really like the colors of madder root on hemp fabric — done with solar dyeing, and I let it sit about a week in full sun. The unevenness of it is pretty.

Madder dye on hemp fabric

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