How to Create a Gorgeous Chalk Mural Like an Instagram Pro
From writing and designing at Hallmark to creating unique artwork for an advertising agency, Instagram star Casey Ligon has always put an emphasis on her creativity. It was only a year and a half ago that she discovered a new talent in the ever-popular chalk art, which has since launched her to Instagram fame and enabled her to start a small business. Her trademark beautiful, ethereal chalk flowers often cause viewers to mistake her work for paintings. Lucky for us, Casey sat down to show us the step-by-steps for how to create a statement chalk wall. Read on to see how she did it!
— chalkboard wall (Casey recommends Rust-oleum chalkboard paint if you’re making the wall)
— chalk (the dustier, the better!)
— damp cloth
1. If your chalkboard is new, rough it up a little with a quick, messy layer of chalk — this will give texture to your final masterpiece.
2. Drawing very lightly, sketch out one big flower as your anchor. Then lightly sketch out a bulb and a smaller flower to accent.
3. Using heavy pressure, trace back over the edges of the flowers. Then, using the tips of your fingers, pull down the extra chalk residue to create streaks that mimic the organic texture of flower petals. Repeat over all of the petals on your arrangement.
4. To form the centers, forcefully stipple the tip of your chalk onto your surface. Then lightly pull down the chalk residue with your fingers to create tiny lines.
5. Next, draw some branches and leaves around your flowers. Use the pull-down technique to add detail to each leaf.
6. Outline each petal and leaf to pronounce the shape, and clean up edges with a damp cloth as necessary.
7. If you like, add dots or stars around your arrangement to make it really stand out. And you’re done!
If your chalkboard is brand-spankin’ new and shiny black, it’s actually best to rough it up a little. Chalk residue can leave behind a nice texture that can help add dimension to your flower mural. One artful way to do it is to draw a crazy spiral, preschool style, and then erase it with a damp cloth in a circular motion. It may not look like much now, but it will leave the perfect extra detail to help your masterpiece stand out.
First, you need to create your “arrangement.” Drawing very lightly, sketch out one big flower as your anchor. Then lightly sketch out a bulb and a smaller flower as accents. A good rule of thumb is to draw a center that isn’t perfectly centered and five petals. For the bulbs, you’ll want to sketch out just three petals. Ligon stresses the importance of letting yourself make mistakes during this stage. As experienced as she is, she often has to “make herself” make mistakes in order to achieve the organic feel of real flowers. “Flowers are natural,” she says. “Once you let go, suddenly they look like flowers.”
One you’ve sketched the base of your arrangement, use heavy pressure to trace back over the outline of the flowers. Then, using the tips of your fingers, pull down the extra chalk residue to create streaks that mimic the organic texture of flower petals. Repeat over all of the petals on your arrangement.
To form the centers, forcefully stipple the tip of your chalk onto your surface. Then lightly pull down the chalk residue with your fingers to create tiny lines.
Next, draw some branches and leaves around your flowers. Use the pull-down technique to add detail to each leaf. Then outline each petal and leaf to pronounce their shape, and clean up edges with a damp cloth as necessary.
Pro Tip: To create the illusion of light, make some leaves lighter on one half than the other.
If you like, add dots or stars around your arrangement to make it really stand out. Casey uses her chalky fingertips to dapple all over the chalkboard and create round smudges. She also uses the tip of the chalk to create star-like dots, something she started doing with a Harry Potter-themed piece, and adopted as a permanent part of her process. Whatever small details you choose to include, be sure to balance it out by creating some areas of higher concentration with the speckling than others.
And you’re done! That was easier than you thought, right? Thank you, Casey, for sharing your expertise!
Will you be trying out this DIY? If so, we want to see the results! Share your final masterpiece with the hashtags #britstagram and #iamcreative so we can take a look.
Welcome to Selfmade Finance School, our new money series with Block Advisors to help small business owners with their tax, bookkeeping, and payroll needs year-round. This week, we explore the tax implications of bringing family members into your business.
The question for today is this: Does hiring your family members make sense for your business? Let me be clear. This is not a piece about whether hiring your family members makes sense for your relationships with those family members. As someone who is part of a family business, I could fill up a lot more than 600 words on my opinions about that. For today's purposes, we focus on whether it makes sense from an overall "good business and tax implication" perspective. As it turns out, there is a decent amount of tax nuance when it comes to employing your family. Let's break it down based on relationship to the employee:
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Spouses Who Are In Business Together
Personally, if I had to be in business with my husband, it would not go well. However, many couples build viable, strong businesses together and I say, good for them! Depending on how you have your business entity structured, it will make a big difference on the tax treatment of you and your spouse working as partners. Because a business jointly owned and operated by a married couple is generally treated as a partnership for Federal tax purposes, the spouses must comply with filing and record keeping requirements imposed on partnerships and their partners. The election to file two Schedule C (Form 1040) forms, (one for each spouse) permits certain married co-owners to avoid filing partnership returns, provided that each spouse separately reports a share of all the businesses' items of income, gain, loss, deduction, and credit. Under the election, both spouses will be subject to self-employment tax and on net earnings from self-employment and receive credit for Social Security earnings.
One Spouse Employs Another
If you have a dynamic where your spouse is an employee of your business, then your spouse's wages are subject to income tax withholding, Social Security and Medicare taxes. If you are self-employed (not a corporation or a partnership), your spouse's pay does not have to be included in your federal unemployment tax account (FUTA) contributions and payments. However, if your business is a corporation or a partnership you must include that spouse's pay in your unemployment tax contribution calculation.
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You Employ Your Child
First, let's be clear. I work in my family business, but I am an adult, so I am treated just like a normal employee. However, if you, for example, run a family restaurant and want to hire your children under 18 to work for you, there are some tax benefits. But first, you should check with your state for rules on how many hours minors can work (in non-agricultural jobs) and reference the Fair Labor Standards Act for information on limitations on the kinds of work children can perform.
"This is an often overlooked or under-utilized strategy. Paying your children for true services they provide in your business can be a powerful tax-saving tool," says Cathi Reed, Block Advisors Regional Director. "If you are a sole-proprietorship or single member LLC, and the child is less than 18 years of age, the business is not required to withhold FICA or payroll taxes. The child can use his or her standard deduction against income you pay."
You Hire Your Parent
Oh dear. If you are brave enough to do this, know that you will need to pay Social Security and Medicare taxes on your parent's wages and make the appropriate withholdings, but you don't have to pay unemployment taxes. Now all you have to do is convince your parent that you are the boss. Have fun with that!
Is Hiring Family Members Worth It For The Tax Benefits?
"There are some positive tax advantages to hiring family members. It's important to treat a family member like any other employee. Hiring your children can result in substantial savings for businesses. Make sure your child has real, age-appropriate work to do and a reasonable pay rate, comparable to other employees. Consult with a Block Advisors small business certified tax pro to ensure that you are complying with all requirements," advises Reed. "Block Advisors, a team within H&R Block, is dedicated to meeting the tax, bookkeeping and payroll needs of small business owners year-round. To start working with the tax experts at Block Advisors, visit blockadvisors.com."
In my opinion, you should not hire a family member solely because of the tax benefits. You should always hire based on whether that person is right for the job and keep in mind how this hire could materially impact your relationship with that person and others in your family. Finally, as I mentioned, make sure you have a tax professional on your team when making these determinations. As you can see, things can get a little tricky!
*All details were sourced from IRS.gov and blockadvisors.com