30 Days of Found Object Art


I make art every day. Somedays it’s a quick 5-minute collage. Other days I’ll have an hour to work on a single piece or a few at a time. But at some point every day, I schedule time to do something creative. I credit this habit to the monthly challenges I started in January of 2016. Creativebug was offering a month-long drawing challenge hosted by Lisa Congdon. I love her style and I’ve always wanted to develop a drawing practice so I decided to join in. And for extra accountability, I posted my work on Instagram. It was way outside of my comfort zone and literally made me feel sick to my stomach every time I posted one of my sketches, but eventually, it became more about the practice of creating the drawing than it did the worry of what people would think. I later joined another month-long drawing challenge hosted by Pam Garrison. Then I participated in Index-Card-A-Day (ICAD) hosted by Daisy Yellow where you create something, anything, on an index card every day for the months of June and July. By mid-year, I could feel the habit forming. It was no longer a task on my to-do list, it was something I craved and I couldn’t go to bed without completing my piece for the day – and not because I felt guilty if I didn’t, but because I felt incomplete.

By the end of 2016 I was hooked and decided to step it up a notch. I committed to a 365-day challenge. I’ve added other monthly challenges in throughout 2017 as well, but my daily project has given me something consistent to work on, something that will be there for me every day. The book I’m working in is very small so it doesn’t feel overwhelming to commit to completing a page in it each day. And I didn’t limit myself by giving it a specific theme. I decided I’d simply find something that inspires me each day and use it to create a page and tell a story. This practice has made me more aware of the world around me. I see the little things I used to overlook (like 4-leaf clovers in the park), and I’ve realized that just about anything can provide inspiration, even the junk I find on the ground or the annoying/difficult things that happen in life.

After participating in so many challenges hosted by other artists, I knew that someday I’d like to host my own. So I decided to take that idea for a test spin and in honor of the launch of my Etsy store, I’ll be using the month of November to create 30 Days of Found Object Art. Every day I’ll create a piece of artwork that was inspired by something I found either on my morning walks with Murphy in the park, in a parking lot, at my kids’ schools, or around my house. Some items will be used as tools, others for color or pattern inspiration, and some may become a story starter. There aren’t any prompts for the month, I will simply respond to the “junk” I find throughout the course of my day. I’ll be posting the artwork every day in Instagram and you can find me here or by searching for my account @mrkanthony (there is also a link on the left side of my blog). I’ve completed the first four days and you can see them below.

Day 1:


Day 2:


Day 3:

Day 4:


I’d love to have you join me! Don’t worry about catching up, you can start any time you like. Just create something inspired by a found object. If you post your work on Instagram, don’t forget to tag me (@mkranthony) and use the hashtag #30daysoffoundobjectart so that I can see your work and follow your journey. And by the end of the month, you’ll have a new habit of looking for inspiration in unexpected places all around you!

Let’s go exploring!

Weekly Color Palette Inspiration

Color plays a huge role in everything I do. It influences my art, what I wear, magazine and book covers I’m drawn to and how I decorate my house. I have my go-to palette – those colors I absolutely adore and can’t stop using. But sometimes we need to shake things up and break out of our typical color palette. It can be hard. I’ll scroll through Pinterest or Instagram to see color combinations other people are using, but the best inspiration is from random encounters with color in my daily life. Some of my favorite combinations have come from litter I see in the park on my walks with Murphy and how it is randomly blown together by the wind to create a beautiful palette of colors I never would have thought to use.

Each week I’ll share a combination of colors that I’ve found to help inspire you to try some that you may not typically use. This week’s palette was collected from the park where I walk and the parking lot at my daughter’s daycare.


I’d love to see how these colors inspire you. Use #thefoundartwalkcolors if you post them to Instagram. I’ll share my own creations on the blog and on Instagram later this week.

Have fun playing with color this week!

The Little Lost Pen (and friends)

I love pens. It’s somewhat of an addiction really. I can’t go into an art supply store or even Target without perusing the pen section. There’s always a need for a new pen: the perfect white pen to write on top of a dark-colored paint, the perfect fine tip black pen to sketch on mixed media or drawing paper, the perfect shade of [insert color here]. The list is never-ending. But that’s the problem, it’s always the search for that “perfect” pen. And the search for “perfect” often times leaves us doing only that –  searching and never creating.

A few weeks ago, as I was walking into the local library, I noticed a ballpoint pen on the sidewalk. So I stopped to pick it up.


I used to use ballpoint pens all the time when I consistently wrote in a journal. I carried a notebook with me everywhere. I wrote down everything. I had notes on napkins and scrap pieces of paper tucked into pockets and clipped onto pages with binder clips. And I always used a blue ballpoint pen. This ballpoint pen was blue, just like the ones I used to use. As I cradled this little lost pen between my fingers and gently swiped it across a piece of scratch paper to see if it still worked, I felt a sudden pang as if I had just been reunited with a best friend who I hadn’t seen in many years. I tucked the pen into my purse and promised it that we would embark on a long-overdue journey together.

I began taking pictures of the Little Lost Pen’s adventures on my Instagram account (follow the adventure using #littlelostpen). Our most notable adventure so far has been to the Minnesota Renaissance Festival where we met the owner of E & L Bindery who helped us choose a special handmade journal just for the Little Lost Pen.

It even made a guest appearance in a blog post I wrote for Artorium Emporium.


We’ve also gone to an antique show,


Lucy and I sketched out ideas for carving pumpkins and dressed the pen up in a washi tape costume for Halloween,

it has helped me with pages I’ve created for Get Messy Art Journal prompts,


and most importantly, has helped me jot down ideas for this blog.

Although it has been fun to play with the idea of taking this pen on adventures, it has actually served a much greater purpose – it helped me step away from the idea of the “perfect” pen and just have fun creating. Sometimes we need to break our routine and use materials that we normally wouldn’t choose or haven’t used in a long time. For me, it was a ballpoint pen, but it could also mean using watercolors instead of acrylics or even changing the type of paper you are using. As my 5-year old daughter and I were putting away groceries one day, I mentioned to her that you can make a journal out of a paper grocery bag. She didn’t believe me. So I made us each one.


I’ve been using mine for the NaNoJouMo art journaling challenge hosted by Dawn DeVries Sokol. I don’t typically use brown paper so it has been fun to work on the kraft paper. And I didn’t spend a ton of money of the journal so I don’t have to worry about ruining a precious book, which allows me to be a little freer with my creativity. And honestly, I’ve fallen in love with my scrappy little journal and have been collecting bags to make more once this one is complete (my favorite so far is a colorful, heavy-stock bag from Paper Source).

So my challenge to you is to find a material that you don’t typically use and try it out. Since finding the Little Lost Pen, I’ve also found a black ballpoint pen and two pencils that will begin to join our artistic adventures. I keep all of them tucked into one of my favorite little Orla Kiely cosmetic bags (I love these bags, I have a bunch of them and they are ALL full of art supplies, never makeup) in my purse along with some blank index cards and a small journal so that no matter where I am, I have supplies and a close friend to join me on my journey and keep me motivated and inspired.




Chain Reactions

A few weeks ago, Lucy asked me what a chain reaction is so I tried to describe it in terms a 5-year old would understand, which is not always easy to do. I said, “It’s when there’s an event that causes something to happen, which makes something else happen, then something else, then something else, etc…”

She just looked at me and as I started to blurt out the dictionary version, she said, “So, like dominoes.”

“Yeah,” I replied, “exactly like that.” I had no idea that she knew how dominoes worked, so we both learned something new. But the more I thought about her question, the more I thought about this blog.

I haven’t written in a while. Quite a while. And it all started with an event – the holidays (which always seem to start off as a sweet as a gingerbread latte then all of a sudden turn into a festive beast that throws tinsel, wrapping paper and piles of gift receipts all over the place). And then I had minor surgery and was on activity/lifting restrictions for three weeks so Murphy and I quit taking walks. Then it was cold and snowy and we still weren’t walking much. And then, I had completely fallen out of my routine and started to lose all that confidence and bravery I had built up when I first launched the blog. But I never stopped collecting ideas. My hard drive is full of beautiful pictures I’ve taken. I have bins upon bins full of items I’ve collected and pages full of notes, sketches and ideas.

I just needed to do something with them. I needed to get over the fear of staring at that blank page and of beginning again. So I decided to accept challenges.

In January, I participated in the Creativebug Draw-A-Day challenge with Lisa Congdon. Drawing has always been difficult for me. I’ve put too much focus on comparing myself to others and trying to make things perfect rather than putting my interpretation of the world down on paper and accepting my own style. But I have always loved drawing and have always wanted to have a drawing routine, so I decided to accept the challenge. And to keep myself accountable, I also participated in the social media portion and posted my daily drawings to my Instagram account. The first few weeks, I felt physically ill every time I posted a drawing. But over time, it became easier. And I noticed that as I was drawing, I wasn’t worrying as much about what people would think, but was instead just enjoying the practice. I have always loved Lisa’s whimsical style so her lessons were the perfect thing to help me get over my perfectionism and learn to just enjoy exploring the world around me.

When the challenge ended at the end of the month, I took a short break and then continued with their next challenge in March led by Pam Garrison (another favorite of mine). I also started participating in the Get Messy Art Journal community challenges and even took some online art classes (my favorite is Alisa Burke, I love her style and her class format). For the months of June and July, I participated in the Index-Card-A-Day (ICAD) challenge hosted by Daisy Yellow.

And an amazing thing happened between January and July – I finally developed that daily creative routine that I had always been craving and never thought I had the time for. Each challenge was nice because it didn’t require much time so I was able to carve out a few minutes each day to complete it. And a lot of them I was able to do with Lucy, so we were able to spend time together doing something we both love. Having the accountability of posting something every day was nice, not only because it gave me a deadline, but also because I found a community of other artists online who were encouraging, supportive and also struggling with the same issues I was: finding inspiration and finding time to create.

As ICAD was coming to a close, I knew it was time to start working on this blog again. I loved the challenges and that they helped me overcome my fears and helped me grow as an artist, but I also recognized that it was time to take that strength and use it to overcome the fear of restarting a project I felt I had abandoned months before. In March, I turned the dreaded 40. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. In fact, it felt like an awakening. Maybe it was because people kept telling me I was “middle-aged” or because Lucy was saying “you’re SO old,” but I suddenly felt the urge to do all the things I kept putting off, the things I’ve always wanted to do, the things that breathe life into my heart and soul. One of the intentions I set for 2016 was to not leave things unfinished so with that in mind and my newfound creative motivation, it was time to get to work. But where to begin?

Nature has an amazing way of providing inspiration. That’s one of the things that I love so much about this project, it’s not just about the artistic inspiration I find, it also helps me to live more “in the moment” and to be open to possibility. For weeks, I had been putting so much pressure on myself to find the “perfect” thing that I could use as my comeback post and didn’t find anything. Then, one morning, as Murphy was stopping to pee for the 142nd time (I honestly think he has marked every blade of grass in that park, it is now officially all his), I just happened to look down and see the cutest little mushroom.


It looked like tissue paper and the lines were so fragile and thin. I picked it up and put it in my little collection tin with the intention of photographing it as soon as I got home. Work was busy that day and I wasn’t able to come back to it until lunchtime, but when I opened up the tin, the mushroom had shriveled into a tiny little dot with a line where the stem once was. At first, I thought it was ruined. But then I realized this was the perfect illustration of a chain reaction – and everything I wanted to accomplish with this project. So, the next day, I found another mushroom and this time, I photographed its transformation.

In every stage, the mushroom provides new inspiration and leads our minds into a chain reaction of ideas.

While it is still fresh and in the ground, it is the perfect little umbrella for tiny creatures hiding from the morning dew. The colors are pale, but bright against the green grass. The lines down the cap are bold and nearly perfectly spaced, all pointing up to the yellow circle at the top, which just happens to be the same color as the honey mustard I put on my sandwich at lunch.



Then, the umbrella begins to close. What once was stark white, is now a lovely shade of sand and the underside of the umbrella has turned black as if it were charred by fire.


As the minutes pass, it shrivels even more and begins to resemble the skin of an elephant. The perfectly straight lines now flow like waves on a lake where there is just a slight breeze.


Not long after, the color darkens to a deep brown, the waves have increased and intersected and the resemblance to the original paper-thin mushroom is completely gone.

After a few days, the mushroom is nothing more than a flat spec (and as Lucy pointed out, could be the spec on the clover from Horton Hears a Who! By Dr. Seuss).

My challenge to you is to simply observe something over time and make note of the changes. It can be something small, like picking a mushroom or flower and seeing how quickly (if at all) it changes. And in each stage of change, challenge yourself to find a new purpose for that item. What do the physical changes look like? How does it smell? What new purpose could it serve? Sketch out the item in each stage of decay. Compare it to other things (like an elephant or Whoville). And once it is done changing, rename it. Give it a new purpose and make it your own.

One of the other things I started doing in my absence was making leather journals. A friend and I began making them for ourselves, but then some other friends wanted them too. Before I knew it, we had an Etsy store and were selling them at local art festivals. One of my favorite journals that we’ve created is a mini journal. The pages are less than 2” square and it’s challenging to work in something that small, but it’s the perfect place to store a mushroom spec and all the ideas for what it could be.


I’d love to see what new things you discover! Post a comment on the blog or use the hashtag #TheFoundArtWalk on Instagram. And if you want to see the daily challenges I completed, you can follow me on Instagram at @mkranthony.

Thanks for stopping by!