Turning Drab & Old into Fun & New!


It’s time for another 15 Minute Creative Project. I love these fun creative bursts that don’t take too much time, yet still leave that wonderful sensation of creating something lovely.

One of the “secrets” of infusing more creativity in the day is having a spot set aside for creative work. It doesn’t have to be a big spot or even an entire table, just a designated spot to continue to work said project. This mixed media notebook box was one of those block projects, it was about three episodes of 15 minute creativity.

I started this project last night. My grandma gave me a box of note paper and it had a big scratch on it where some tape had ripped off the painting of the illustration. She gave me the idea to improve upon it and create something pretty with the cover.  After all, it was still functional as a note pad box. I decided to take her up on it.

before the creative redo

At first glance, I thought I would work around the remaining artwork and message, but then decided to go all the way over it and start afresh with a spring floral inspiration.

I started by adding a layer of gesso on the top and letting it dry. It wasn’t a thick layer – you’ll notice some of the colors of the pain underneath still showing through- but it was enough to create a workable space for a new design.

mixed media notebook box

After the gesso dried, I started adding paint. I wanted this to be a freestyle piece so there was no sketching for this. I used a picture of flowers for a guide.

I started this project last night while the rice was cooking for dinner. After the first layer of paint, I went back to the kitchen to cut the asparagus and threw it on a cookie sheet with some garlic and olive oil to bake. Once I rinsed the fish and put it on to cook, I returned to my creative spot to finish the painting, adding in my highlights and some dark shadows within the petals. The painting took about fifteen to twenty minutes. I was having a lot of fun doing it and it was a quiet night so I think I lingered over it a little longer than I intended. I almost burnt the fish!

This morning, I found a quote from a book I’m reading that I’m just enthralled in right now. I used a 08 Micron pen to write it out.  A fine tip Sharpie would work well too. I had started with a 03 Micron and it was too fine of a point- it was getting overwhelmed by the gesso. You need something a bit “inkier.” Word of warning: I’ve ruined a lot of the fine tip pens on gesso. Use a thicker tip and save the small ones (01, 03, 05) for watercolor sketches.

I took a sponge to add the texture around the sides of the box and added just a touch of a light brown watercolor around the stalks and under the petals for some added depth.


In all, it took less than an hour and I have a fun spring box. It may stay on my desk for a while, or I may pass it on to my mum or someone else who is a chronic note taker like myself!

Your home is probably full of old things that can be redone or touched up with a bit of gesso or paint.  It’s fun to use what you have at home instead of buying more stuff. I love a good trip to the art store, but too often I spend too much time searching and shopping and not enough time creating. Trying to reverse that this year!

mixed media spring notebook box

What re-purposing projects are you working on this year?

Quote from the book: No act of beauty is senseless for the beautiful is never absurd. Nothing is more meaningful than beauty. -Dallas Willard

Ingredients for Project:

Found object
Gesso and old hotel card for applying gesso
Paintbrushes and cup for paint water
Sharpie or micron pen

Favorite acrylic paints- white, black, Red Hue (light) Magenta, Sap Green

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