Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Optimist or Idiot?

I've neglected my blog, I know, but I am glad to be back at my computer and posting. Frankly, I can't really manage a post on my phone or iPad. Photos get posted to Instagram and then I move on to the next project. So my strategy going forward to is prioritize getting to my desk. 

The struggle to find time for it all is real and yet I remain confident that connection is worth the effort. Prioritizing projects, deciding which things to participate in and which to pass on is hard. After months of thinking about it I finally decided to commit to doing Life Book 2016. The desire to take part is a given, but time...there is always time. I have yet to start my December painting for the Spirit Wings Angel Painting class. There are three more to come. So starting a yearlong project, am I an optimist or an idiot? Can I keep up? The months to come will tell the truth, but I am glad I choose to say "Yes" to this thing I want to do. I'm doing it for me. 

I am a caregiver. I think of the needs of others in so many of my roles. If you are reading this you probably do too, It has been a long time since I started putting the needs of others first. That's ok as long as I put my needs somewhere in the calendar. I'm learning this and it is a struggle. So I am glad I joined this groups as well as the others I enjoy. Life Book 2016, Spirit Wings Angel Painting, CarveDecember, Art Journal Every Day, Mad Tea Party - all these events and the people who host them have made my life more exciting. Thank you all. 

So I may be an idiot, but I hope I will be a happy one following dreams that bring joy and holding the things I cherish dear. If that makes me an idiot, I embrace it. 

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Laugh in the Face of Fear

For the past few months I've been carefully using the time I have for creative endeavors...not everything can be accomplished at once. The last week of the year will be spent tidying and organizing so that I can be more efficient in 2016. Hopefully some art will be created in tandem. 

Kelly Rae Robert's course, Spirit Wings, has been my main focus. December has added the option of using snippets of time to participate sporadically in Julie Fei-Fan Balzer's Carve December. Both of these have given me joy this season. 

(Hashtags for the projects #spiritwingspaintingcourse   and #carvedecember)

The painting above is my angel of courage. It was a wonderful process painting her. 

Below you can see a few of my hand carved stamps made during the December event. 

Friday, October 30, 2015

Painting Angels

I've been missing here for a while. I've started a six month long creative Adventure with Kelly Rae Roberts. The course I'm taking is called Spirit Wings. By the time the course is done I will have completed six angel paintings. 

I love art journaling and mixed media is part of all that. I wasn't so sure about painting faces, though that is a trend in art journaling these days. I don't think I would have gone the route of adding faces to my art if it hadn't been for this wonderful opportunity. The timing was great and Kelly Rae Roberts is a powerful course leader. So I showed up.

You can see my first painting above. It's pretty amazing because I would never have imagined I'd paint like that. My big dilemma was the wings. I had done the face and hair and realized that I didn't have a clue as to how the wings should go. I started cutting the features out of tissue paper. I thought if I wrote my meditations on the feathers using a white pen they would be invisible - a note just for me. Well, I was wrong about that. They show up well and I love the foggy aspect of them. 

Looking forward to learning so much more in the next five months.

Monday, September 28, 2015


Transformation - it's everywhere. 
Especially in this season. 

I attended a art journaling hangout on Google with Amy Maricle a few months ago. She has some really helpful things on her website, so make sure you go and check it out. 

Today looking through a spread I did during that time I decided to take my pens out and start the transformation process. 

Here's the page I decided to transform. 

First I switched directions and turned the journal on it's side. The circles definitely looked like roses to me, so roses they became. I added tendrils and leaves. 

After a few layers I added some words.

Viola! It is transformed. 

The really nifty thing about it is this: 

I am transformed as well. 

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Changing Seasons

Changing Seasons. Bend to the season or be bent by it. 

The seasons are changing. Simple statement. So much truth to it. 

Our days are going from dreadfully hot last week to delightfully pleasant this week. I see more random spots of colorful autumn leaves. Not a lot, but enough to remind me that summer is near it's end. 

The weather is hardly all that is changing here. What's that they say? "Nothing is so constant as change." 

I have always been a fan of Gandhi's quote "Be the change you want to see in the world." I love the empowering feeling that this lonely person can make a difference. Tonight as I think about it I realize that you can also read that as an admonition to choose the kind of change you prefer. I think Gandhi meant the former, but that doesn't mean the latter isn't true. As they say "Choose your poison" "Choose your change" resonates. Life changes regardless. You might as well be in charge of the change you go through. 

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Paint on My Fingers Again!

See the paint on my fingers? It was great to see it there and even more thrilling to see the design of the stencil printed on my fingers. 

It's been a busy month for so many reasons, not the least of which is preparation and the beginning of a new school year in tandem with taking a 5 week course for Professional Development. 

After submitting my last assignment today I decided to fling some paint around in my art journal. Remember that journal? 

Not my usual color scheme, but this page started when I spread excess paint on it from another project some time ago. I don't even remember what project that would have been, but it's fun to go with it and see what happens.

Here in New England we are starting to see trees changing colors. The serious business of fall foliage season is still a ways off, but we are heading towards Autumn in small increments. This color scheme reflects that, despite my resistance. 

I included this picture to show where I used a mesh vegetable bag and some spray color. It created a really subtle mesh pattern. I wanted something more. You can see lines created by the stitched end of the mesh bag dipped in paint. (below) I am looking forward to seeing where this piece takes me. 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Back to School

I've spent a good chunk of my summer at school cleaning up, rearranging and getting the library ready for another year. Each summer I take on a big job. The library is starting to look like the vision I had for it. 

So now I need some signage. Professionally created signage is optimal, but I'd rather spend our dollars on books. So I decided to make my own using the skills I've collected by art journaling. Actually, they are pretty simple, but I think they are cheerful. 

I hope to get some more made before school starts. I know I'm going to enjoy seeing them each day. 

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Pushing Past Limitations

There's red under here. Really.

Limitations. Sometimes they are given to us. Sometimes we make them ourselves. As someone doing art journaling, nursing my limitations was not in my favor. I became aware of my color deficiency some years ago when taking my first course with Vivienne McMaster

So when Kelly Kilmer challenged us to use up the paint on our palettes I became recalcitrant. "No, I will not use that red" I said. My painting partner also aired her dislike of red. I then took a moment to think about why I was taking a class instead of following my instincts and proceeded to use that red. (Yes, I agree. I should have thought before childishness refusing in the first place.) You know what? I liked what came out of it. If I hadn't used red then, I would have missed an opportunity for self growth. 

A few weeks later during our Artist's Retreat, Cindi Huss playfully jibed me about my aversion to red. Later on her blog, my name and red were mentioned in the same sentence. I took that as a challenge. The gauntlet had been thrown down. My next page spread would heavily feature red. 

Well, Cindi, here's some red for you. 

See?! It was red. Really. Well, before I added the pink and purple. 

I still use pink and purple as my neutrals. What can I say? I can't get enough of them. Nevertheless, learning to add colors I don't normally use will stretch me and make me grow. So I'll be giving it a try. 

P.S. I have learned so much from each of the teachers I mentioned above. If you have the opportunity to take a class with them, take it. 

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Getting Started with Art Journaling

My first Art Journal Page. Funny enough, I posted the process of making this page, but never the finished product! 

I'm kind of new to Art Journaling. I've been at it for less than a year. When people find out that I Art Journal they ask questions. Some of the most common questions I receive are:

What is Art Journaling?

(The easiest way to answer this is to show them. And I have plenty of resources on my phone, friends. I'm kind of the Grandma who has an album of her 19 grandchildren. And I'm ready to show it at the least provocation.)

Why Art Journal?
(The answers to this question will have to wait until another blog post.)

Where did you learn?
(The internet, baby! I got hooked on it when I saw some on Pinterest. Since then I have a board so large that I am now separating it out into two boards - One for Journals, the other for Art Journaling Videos.)

How can I get started?
(This is the question I am going to answer in this post!)

My Art Journal Journey

Click here to see my Pinterest boards. 

Pinterest. Pinterest is the root of thousands of women finding new hobbies and neglecting housework.  Some of you Pinterest enthusiasts dutifully perform your responsibilities before pinning that delicious  chocolate cake recipe. I cannot claim to be one of you. Pinterest is a form of meditation for me. It reduces my stress, which is a good thing. 

I pinned Art Journal pages that inspired me for months. I wanted to join in, but didn't feel I had the time. So I looked at photographs and watched videos. (I am shy to admit that I bought a few books, ok more than a few.)

And then Rae Missigman changed all that. I saw one of her 15 minutes of Art Journaling videos. It blew my mind. In a mere fifteen minutes she created a whole spread. I sat transfixed. I was absolutely changed and charged up. I would recommend anyone to watch her videos if you want to believe you can start. If she could do a whole spread in 15 minutes, surely I could slap down one color of paint.

So I started. The first day I gessoed a page spread. I left my space set up. Each night I came home and added something - or not. Some nights I just looked. I just played. Eventually pages emerged.

Now I have several journals going at once. I work on what I feel like working on. I use a page in one journal to wipe of the paint brush I used in another. I love this.

Finally, I was fortunate enough to take a course with Kelly Kilmer in June. I learned so much from that in person experience. It was great.

My recommendation to those who want to start Art Journaling:

1. Go on Pinterest and look at Art Journaling. There are many people posting photographs. Make a board yourself of the ones you like. You'll start to notice what techniques, colors and styles you are drawn to. Give yourself a little time to do this.

2. Watch some videos. Do not miss Rae Missigan's videos. You can really see how much can be done.  Watch some others as well.

Favorite books that add to my knowledge of Art Journaling, Geli Printing and book making. 

3. Check out some books, Art Journaling magazine, the library and the bookstore are your friends. 

4. Get some paint and start playing. Pay special attention to tutorials that show you how to make tools out of ordinary materials you have around the house. Don't start investing in a lot of stuff until you see if you actually like it. Bubblewrap is a great first texture tool.

5. Join some groups online. There are a lot of free Art Journaling challenges/classes/groups. Joining a group that has prompts and sharing of work will stretch you. You will also have a chance to learn from the other members. I've done some of this.

6. Make an effort to do Art Journaling in person. Take a class. Invite a friend to journal with you. Find a group or start one. I find that Art Journaling is great to do alone. It is also great to do with others. They are different experiences and you get different things out of them.

Did you find the courage to move ahead? Does it seem approachable? Do you still have questions? How did you start? When/how did you first hear about Art Journaling?

Thanks to Ricki Treleaven for asking me about my favorite Art Journaling books and inspiring this post. 

Monday, July 27, 2015

Love Everywhere

This spread was done during our Artist's Retreat and was inspired by the wonder that is Cindi Huss. Cindi has never ceased to amaze and delight me with her openness to people who have a wide, and I  really mean huge, span of cultural, political, socio-economic, gender, add whatever else I have left out, backgrounds. She helps me to open my perspective and see more love in the world.

Who inspires you to see more love, to be more love?

Friday, July 17, 2015

Artist's Retreat - July 2015

First meal of Artist's Retreat - on the shore at Plymouth, Massachusetts. Photograph altered with Brushstroke app. 
Artist’s Retreat. Doesn’t that sound romantic? Maybe expensive? Certainly illusive.

Well, at least that’s how I felt about it. Every year I’d talk to Cindi Huss, a dear friend who has moved far enough away that we don't see each other often. We’d say how we should run away for a weekend sometime and leave all our responsibilities behind us. Well, this year I called her up and said “Let’s have an artist’s retreat!” She was enthusiastic and so we started planning. Last week was the fruit of all those conversations.

Revel in these paint colors!

We had three full days together. Cindi had seen my art journaling work and was game to give it a go. Our plan was to do gelli printing, art journaling and gelli printing on silk scarves. Cindi also brought matching white moleskins in which we would record our retreat. I found some necklace findings which allow for a picture to be inserted. We would also have these as momentos of our time together.  Our other goals included food and laughter.

Gelli Printing

We took turns. Each of us printed a few and then handed the gelli plate to the other. We never washed the plate until we were done. This method allowed us to rif on each other’s work, gave us the challenge of using what was left on the plate to create a new print and resulted in some pretty amazing pulls in which we could see traces of each other in our prints. When finished we laid out Cindi’s prints to photograph them. Then we did the same with mine. It was amazing to see how even though we had the same materials with which to work, we made very different collections of prints. It was also really fun to see Cindi’s touch in the middle of my creations.

Cindi's gelli prints. 

My Prints. Notice how different the color scheme is. 
Art Journaling

Cindi made her journal by taking large paper, applying gesso, ripping it to size and sewing together. We actually applied gesso the first day so that we could use our pages as a place to blot excess paint from brayers, paintbrushes and fingers.

I suggested the added challenge of each of us using a gelli print the other made as the inspiration for the journal page. Even as I suggested it, I quaked in my boots. Cindi took up the challenge and off we sped. We each offered up prints that we could part with which added another level of structure vs. choice. 

(Left) Cindi's print. Red was going to be a challenge for me, but those shapes! Could be leaves. Could be paisley. (Right) My print. She was already seeing things in this print.

Working with these colors was definitely out of my comfort zone. We added background color, stamping, stencils, spray ink, collage and pen. I regret neglecting to introduce Cindi to the joys of bubble wrap printing.

You can see our pages. 

What do you know? I can use red.

The shapes were taken organically from the print. I stared at it until I could see the lines in the print.

The whole page felt organic to me. It didn't take much thinking. 

Working with Cindi was great. The message came easily in her presence. She is such a fountain of joy and compassion. 

Cindi's journal page. It was fun to see her expand her vision as she added layers. 

Gelli Printing on Silk Scarves

We had seen the tutorial on the Gelli Arts blog that shows using the round gelli plates to print of silk scarves. We both reacted very positively to that idea, so we forged ahead. One of Cindi’s many talents includes dyeing fabric. Go to her website or blog to read more about her work. She had some silk scarves and offered to bring them. 

After brushing on the paint I pressed a piece of lace into the paint. Here is the result. 

This piece of lace is brightly colored now from the number of times I used it as a pattern maker. 

Cindi and I took very different approaches to this project. I started out too rigid and lifeless in my thinking. I used the blocks as the rectangles they are, marking them by pressing a piece of lace into them. 

No limitations for Cindi! She did not conform to the shape of the plate. 

Cindi printed with wild abandon. Eventually I loosened up and added the circles – big and little. The circles were made with stamps I had made from styrofoam trays my vegetables came in. Cindi’s scarf was a wild garden full of vibrant flowers and leaves.

Taking the scarves off the freezer paper was awe-inspiring. We gasped when we saw how different the scarf look as it draped around my neck or on the table.

My scarf unveiled.

Cindi wearing the scarf on the way home. 

Cindi's scarf off the freezer paper. 

Moleskine Notebooks

A silly picture we took with the APP Snap Dash. The caption reads "You're a pig being carried to a luau."

We wrote in our notebooks. What we did. How we did things. Things we wanted to remember. Food we ate. Pieces of the work we did. Photographs of us being silly. Working in these books helped us to think about what we had created and to take it to the next level. They are wonderful reminders of these days spent together and of our friendship. I will cherish mine.


The pieces we gave to each other. (Left) from me (Right) from Cindi.

We each chose a gelli print to cut a piece out to put in our necklaces. We each wrote a message to the other on the piece of paper we gave. Then we put them together with a piece of our own and closed the latch. Lovely charms for us to wear and shine.

It was hard to let Cindi go when the time came. Yet instead of that old feeling that things were coming to a close, I had a strange feeling that something was beginning. Guess we’ll just have to do it again. Can’t wait.

Want to see more about Cindi? You can see some of her work at or her blog Dancing Threads.