Sunday, December 13, 2015

Hi! My name is Betty, and I am addicted to journals!

My dear peeps, I have a problem.  A big problem.

I need to join a self-help group for people like me, who are addicted to journals.  Art journals, writing journals, notebooks, Smash books, day books, pocket journals, pocket notebooks, sketch books.  Add to that art supplies of every variety known to man:  pens, paint, paper of every kind and description, doo-dads and ephemera of every shape and size, colored pencils, markers.  Yes, I need help.  But I don't HOARD them, I swear.  I use them, intend to use them, will use them.

Have I told you before that I love, love, LOVE paper? 

Passing up or passing by a stack of tantalizing new journals on display at a retailer is nearly impossible for me.  And they surely don't have to be the high dollar, latest greatest thing ever.  I have and use plenty of the very inexpensive lined spiral notebooks with foo-foo covers from the Dollar Store in a multitude of ways (recipes, swap tracking, notes, etc).  And if they are on sale or marked down, watch out, I am going to go home with at least one.  It is my belief that lurking within my mind is the subconscious and clearly irrational fear of running out of them.  As I near the end of one of my many active journals that I am arting in, writing in and fooling around with, toting in my handbag or briefcase,  I drag all the new ones out.  That's where I am right now.  I have two that will be full very soon.  Which one will be perfect? Which one is the most tantalizing at the moment?  Which will be the 'perfect' one for the next few months of writing and creating?  Do I love it enough at the moment to keep being in love with it for several months down the road?   See my dilemma?  It is so hard to choose.  I like to have choices.  It's kind of like our closets, ladies.  We must have choices.

At the moment, I am trying to decide which new "big" type journal do I want to play in next?  My 9x12"  Canson Mixed Media journal has 2 pages left to fill. it is fat and juicy and it took me nearly a year to fill it. While I love the size of the Canson, sometimes the spiral binding irritates me.  If I want to do a double page spread in it, the binding gets in my way. That takes me to my non-spiral options.  Should I use my new Square Dylusions journal (white & black pages) (not shown), start a second large Dylusions journal (I still have one in process) or select a medium-range option?   I have several from which to choose.  Is there a new one out there I don't have that would be better?  Maybe I better do a little more shopping. <wink>

I have been gifted many wonderful handcrafted journals as well. That's a whole other selection process. When to use them, how to use them, should I use them or keep saving them in "as received" condition?

Frequently, I am asked about what is my favorite journal?  The truth is, the one I'm working in at the moment is always my favorite.  Different journals, with different properties, weights, portability factors, size, and quality of the paper all determine which one is really my favorite.  And a lot of that depends on what I am using it for.

To keep up with art swaps, general notes and reminders, I generally use the el-cheapo kind from the dollar store. They are spiral bound, with hard covers, the paper is halfway decent, and their size is ideal to tuck into a purse, briefcase or tote if I need portability. They don't take up too much room at my desk. Their sizes are handy.  I have one in my kitchen that houses the recipes I use all the time ... those "go to, no brainer" recipes that are always asked for or preferred by the family.  My recipe collection in its entirety has a whole other system of binders and notebooks, but we can talk about THAT later.

For my writing and journaling, at the moment, I am in love with my Piccadilly cahier journals. I can buy them in 3-packs at Barnes and Noble and other booksellers for a very reasonable price. I can tart up the covers with paint and gesso.  I also love writing in a Moleskin cahier as well.  I love the paper, the size, the ability to tart up the covers and personalize them.  While I have a rather huge selection of other writing journals, they are still waiting in the wings to be used.  And I will use them, I promise. I have a beautiful leather bound Moleskin that was gifted to me.  I think I will be using it next when my current writing journal is full.  We'll have to see about that and what mood I am in when the Piccadilly I am currently using is nearly full.

For heavy, wet and mixed media art journal pages, I am totally enamored with the Dylusions journals, large, small, square.  The paper is outstanding. It holds up to just nearly anything you throw at it. There is no bulky binding to get in the way of double page spreads (it has sewn, lay flat binding).  It lays flat, making it very easy to work in and with. 

The Canson mixed media journals, and the Strathmore Visual Journals with spiral bindings in all sizes, are great for me for experimentation, documentation, exploration of new ideas, techniques and what-if situations.  They aren't expensive and can be replaced quickly and I never fear messing one of them up. That's the beauty about these. They take a licking and keep on ticking, just like Timex!  I am currently using a Strathmore Visual Journal, 5x8-ish size as my exploration journal.  This is where I play and can just let my artistic hair down. If I hate it when I'm through, as in most of my art journals, I can whip out some gesso and just cover it all up and create something new on top of the failed idea or project.

I have a rather small (in comparison) assortment of sketch journals or sketch books, and a couple were given to me, and a couple I purchased, with the hopes of improving my drawing skills. I have played mostly in these with ordinary #2 pencils, charcoal and assorted outline and rendering pencils. I use them to sketch ordinary things, practice shapes and the actual "quality" of the paper really has not been that important to me, since actual "drawing" is still a developing 'skill' (using that term VERY loosely at this point), but it is coming along with practice. Telling you which is these is my favorite is impossible. I like the ones where my drawings actually look like real objects. I see a progression of improvement, so that sketch book is my favorite!

So as you can see, I definitely have a problem.  The next time you see me drooling over a rack of journals or notebooks at Barnes and Noble...stop me. Make me just walk away. This will be my first step toward recovery.

Happy holidays, everyone, and may Santa bring you a new journal in your stocking!


Saturday, December 12, 2015

Artful Journeys - Week #50 "Let it Snow"

I love winter, and I love cold weather. Unfortunately, here in north Texas this is not something we get an over-abundance of to enjoy.  In fact, it was 76 degrees here on Friday, the sun was shining brightly in a beautiful, clear sky. It was more like a lovely spring day than the early onset of winter.  Weather in Texas is fickle.  Hot one day, raining the next, or we could have surprise hail, high winds, tornadoes, and yes...occasionally the rare snow fall -- but not usually until late January or early February, if at all. 

What we usually get in winter here is ICE. It rains. Temperatures plummet to below freezing overnight, sometimes as much as a 50 degree swing from the daytime.  The next morning -- disaster, but usually a holiday for everyone.  We build all our roadways here for heat -- not winter's kind of nasty precipitation.  So if it's white, hard or not, we get out in it. We play in it. We walk in it, we rejoice in the gift of winter in it's rarest and most magical form.  Roads close, schools close.  A free day is enjoyed by most everyone, because we cannot drive in it, seriously.  I'm not taking that risk.  All the Yanks that moved down here think we're crazy. They drive in it. They wreck. They go home. And play in it. 

Now I know you friends who live wayyyyy up there in the northern reaches surely have a more realistic and pragmatic approach to winter.  You can. You have the equipment to remove it, stack it, plow it, shovel it, dig out from under it. You know how to drive in it.  Nobody I know owns a snow shovel.  Who needs it?  Because by noon, any fun white stuff is usually gone and the temperatures have changed drastically.  We have mowed our lawn the week of Christmas and after that as well. 

So, if you get too much snow this winter, send us some.  But in the meantime, I'll be giggling while I'm still wearing short pants and flip flops as we open our Christmas gifts and think of you having a beautiful, white Christmas.  Keep all the hard white stuff.  Just send the fluffy, fun stuff, please.

Hopefully, you find some level of fun or inspiration with my spread this week.  I liked doing something different this year for you, and with a fun color palette.  I created the background with acrylics and vintage papers and then did an overlay with PicMonkey to finish off the spread.

Best wishes, and here's hoping all your holiday preparations are going well!


Friday, November 27, 2015

Artful Journeys - Week #48 Prompt "Hang A Wreath"

This week at Artful Journeys, we asked our members to "Hang a Wreath" in their art journals.  As usual, I wanted to be a bit different and was not thinking about "Christmas" just yet, with Thanksgiving just being barely over.  Fall is still in full swing here in north Texas, and it won't officially be winter for a while, so I didn't want to rush anything.

My initial idea was to create a 'kaleidoscope' of color, and I began by creating a wheel of fall colors with acrylics in red, orange and yellows, banded in a wheel.  I had these wonderful fall looking silk (or polyester?) leaves that I thought would be perfect. So I took out my trusty compass, drew a big circle and began to layer the leaves.  I had just enough to do a double row.  But after they were applied, the kaleidoscope really wasn't all that visible. 

Initially, I had hand lettered the quote, but must have had a brain phart right at the end, because the word "enough" was not spaced out right and looked totally stupid.  Out came the gesso, more paint, more dabbing and brushing, and lots of use of the heat gun.

I decided to pull out some new-to-me lettering stamps I bought recently and stamped out the quote on some bristol paper, cut to size and affixed with Helmar 450 Quick Dry Adhesive. This stuff is the bomb!  Really sticky, dries fast and clear and is the best general purpose adhesive I have ever used!

This spread didn't seem to need much else because to me, it was already starting to look kind of fussy with all those leaves, so I just added some doodly framing around the quote and called it good.

Below are a few other things I have been working on the last week or so. It was so nice of you to stop by for a look, and as always, if you'd care to leave me a comment on anything I've posted here, it would be greatly appreciated!

Vintage newspaper collage spread
Vintage newspaper advertising

Dylusions Spray Inks with acrylics and Stencil Girl Stencil

Dylusions spray inks and Stencil Girl stencil

Dylusions spray ink, blending tool, mop up inks and Stencil Girl stencil

Acrylics, Art doll by Annmarie Killam, stencil

Just trying to add more and make it into something!

Planner pages in the Hobonichi or "Fauxbonichi" style

Grumpy Cat "You'd be angry too if you had to wear this ugly-assed collar all day!"

4x6 index card - Repeating Word, Doodles

Artist Trading Card Swap - Crazy Birds

Impromptu Art Challenge

Thanks again for stopping by!  Remember, keep it artful!


Saturday, November 21, 2015

I Just HAD to do it......I'm FED UP!!

Today was a beautiful, sunny day in north Texas. The sky was blue. The birds were singing. The line at the post office was horribly long, but the clerk was nice and left me in a good mood with her pleasantries.  So I toodled on down the road to my favorite Starbucks for a "reward."  I had, after all, managed to get my errands done, made it to my nail appointment, was ready for dinner in a few hours and I am on Day #5 of my "no profanity" challenge with only a couple little slip ups during the week when on the phone with my bestie.  (Does that REALLY count?)

My reward?  A delicious Triple Venti Caramel Macchiato, with no foam (yuk--hate the foam thing).  And out the window it comes in a pretty RED CUP.  The clerk and I chatted briefly, made a reference to the hub-bub lately on Facebook about it and off I drove, happy as a clam.

----------spoiler alert!!!!!!!  We're going to talk about THE CUP.  If you are offended by paper products, read no further!  While I have NEVER in the past delved into the world of popular or unpopular opinion on any subject on social media, I feel this "situation" needs more words. Some of my words.  Maybe some snarky words. So be prepared :::::::::::::::::::::::::::

And you know what, as I was driving down the road, holding my hot, delicious coffee in my left hand, I looked over at driver stopped next to me at the light.  I got a "thumbs up."  I waved and drove off, quite happy with myself.  It sort of happened again as I was approaching the light at main street...this time a big smile, "pointing" towards my cup, and a big wave.  I'm thinking -- oh Lordy.  It's the cup.

So I looked at the now-infamous red cup.  Totally innocuous.  Paper. Red. Green logo.  Same old standard kraft sleeve with some snowflake effects. No offensive words.  Dang this coffee tastes good. 

I continued my 25 minute drive back to my town, enjoying myself, the day, singing to the radio, looking at the countryside around me.  I had polished off my delicious and expertly prepared cup of joe reward in no time and was wishing for another.

After arriving home, I sat the cup on my desk. I looked at it.  I wasn't offended by it.  Clearly the two people who attracted my attention on the road weren't offended by it. The hubs didn't even notice, but that didn't surprise me.  I tarted up the cup with a cute little Christmas tag sent to me by a sweet friend in some happy mail.  The cup still wasn't offended.  I surely wasn't offended.  Who is offended by a red cup?  I gave the cup a place of honor (at least temporarily) on top of a shelf on my desk so I could look at it, size it up. Determine WHAT was so offensive.

I called a friend of mine who is Muslim.  She does NOT celebrate the Christian holiday of Christmas. I texted her a picture of THE CUP, all tarted up. She wasn't offended, in fact, she liked it.  She was jokingly coveting what had been IN the cup.  I asked her if she had paid any attention to all the social media hub-bub.  She said she had not, saying, "It's just a cup."  I asked her if a plain red cup in any way offended her sensibilities or her right to practice her own religion. She said no.  I asked her if she thought Starbucks was being "too forward" by serving their drinks in a RED paper cup.  She said no. I asked her if the x-amount of Americans who DO celebrate CHRISTMAS offended her. She said no. Now mind you, people of the Muslim faith seem to be the most maligned group everywhere right now. I have no issues with anyone, of any faith, or their right to practice their beliefs, spirituality or allegiance to anyone.  I have friends of many faiths and beliefs. I value their opinions.   I asked my friend if she knew the religion or beliefs of anyone in ownership or subordinate roles at Starbucks.  She said no.  We talked about the fact that probably most of the people stirring up this madness on social media probably don't know anything about anyone at Starbucks either, from the glass ceiling on down. Just like we don't know.  Or care for that matter.  As long as they keep on making great coffee, I'm in.  My friend is in.  Our other coffee friends are in.   What they do to or with their cups doesn't affect us. Her, me, you, them, everyone.  IT'S A FREAKING CUP for goodness sakes!

POW!!!!!!   Right.  IT IS JUST A CUP!! A paper cup, in a bright red color, with white trim, and a green and white logo.   There's no slogan.  Yes, perhaps it could be considered "secular" or "Christmas-y" I suppose.  But it is still just a vessel for holding my hot, delicious coffee.  Is anyone holding Macy's or Hobby Lobby or a bazillion and one other retailers hostage for putting up Christmas / holiday decorations and Christmas trees in JULY?  No.  Is someone making a fuss anywhere that people of all religions the world over are celebrating their special days, when and how they celebrate them?  No. (well maybe).  But my point is..... this is a cup. A plain,  ordinary, everyday paper cup that happens to be red... just prior to the impending holiday of Christmas, widely accepted and practiced in the United States and elsewhere in the world.

I don't care if Starbucks decides to put my coffee in a pink, purple and polka-dotted cup, whether it has leopard prints, rainbow colors, tribal patterns, feathers or whatever symbol some group claims as their own.  It's a FREAKING RED CUP.  Do these "naysayers" ever buy RED SOLO cups to put their other beverages into?  Are they boycotting BLUE cups? 

I love my Starbucks.  The ones close to me. The ones far away from me. The ones in Seattle and all over everywhere -- as long as they are making great coffee, giving me good service, I will still be their customer.  And most of you will be too.

Stop the madness. Get over it. It's a RED cup.  Put some art on it.  It won't be offended.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Artful Journeys - Week #46 "Empty The Pantry"

This week at Artful Journeys we asked everyone to get creative with a bag, box or label from something in their pantry, using it in a creative way in their journals.

Naturally, I picked something associated with coffee.  There are 18 loose K-cups laying on my kitchen counter right now. Seems as though I have either used or pitched out every coffee box I thought I had...I have recently been purging and re-organizing my art space and it's not like I won't get more.  <grin>

In my honest opinion, I think that mixed media artists are some of the best people at reusing, recycling, upcycling and turning trash into treasure. I took this opportunity to do some of the same for this prompt, using some of the mountains of great stuff I have saved and have been sent by my generous art friends.  I started with the Eight O'Clock Coffee box of k-cups and began mulling over what I wanted to do while cutting the box apart.  I then cut up a really nice cardboard envelope that I received in the mail containing some stencils I ordered, prepped the backside with gesso and paint, rolled on with my soft foam brayer, using 3 colors of craft acrylic: Violet Pansy, Lavender and Diva Pink.  The gesso left bits of white showing through and I loved it!  It was messy, but in an orderly sort of way.  I cut it to 9x"x12" to fit into my Artful Journeys mixed media journal.

 Many of you know that I can add layers and layers of paint with no problems whatsoever. What I wrestle with the most is adding bits of paper and ephemera.  The concept of "JAM" -- just add more -- really doesn't work with my high sense of order and my compulsion to make everything in my life and art world the same...orderly! But I'm really working on that specific compulsion with my art.  I love, LOVE the grunge or JAM styles, but have trouble "just adding more."  So I dug out my paper ephemera container and started pulling things that spoke to me as to color, texture, re-useability.  I used a reprint of art given to me and made by Annmarie Killam, a bit of leftover painted paper received in happy mail, the inside of a Starbucks coffee sleeve, a scrap of a punch cut, some monopoly pieces and started arranging and playing.  Using my Signo Uniball 207 pen, I made some random marks on the background.  More playing around with placement of my "bits"; I fussy cut out the dolly image from Annmarie's artwork (thank you, Annmarie!) 

I decided the coffee box was too garish, so I applied some gesso with my hands and zapped it dry with the heat gun.  I am impatient, too!  When dry, I then outlined some of the letters with my Signo Uniball pen. Loved how the white gesso changed the whole look of that piece of box.

Now, time for glue and final placement.  I have recently discovered Tombow Multi Mono Liquid Glue (found it on sale at Wal Mart of all places) and this stuff is truly amazing.  It has a pen tip and a wide tip and is super-duper sticky and is quite versatile.  The packaging says you can adhere and then remove if you apply and let it dry thoroughly before attaching to something. For use as a permanent fixative, just apply and adhere to your base while wet. I'm going to test this "removeability" feature on some unmounted stamps and see how that works with my acrylic blocks.  The glue dries clear and is acid free and photo safe.  And the best part?  A little bit goes a long, long way!
So I got all my bits and pieces glued down and zapped again with the heat gun...the impatience thing again! 

I pulled out my Caran D'Ache NeoColor II water soluble crayons and used the turquoise, blue and back to add highlights to some of the bits and just smudged them with my fingers and some more outlining and doodly bits with the Signo Uniball pen.

One last bit of fiddling and I pronounced it finished.  This was a lot of fun, and for me, this was a good challenge, making art that was a little less orderly and "neat" and a whole lot of "just adding more.  I hope you like what I created!

Wishing each of you a wonderful week.  We know many are already beginning their Thanksgiving holiday preparations ... big cooking takes time!  But as always, make some time in each day to keep it artful!

Hugs and great art,

Sunday, September 27, 2015

What Else is in Your Daily Journal?

I am often asked by friends, family and casual acquaintences if I only "journal" in my daily journal.  Mostly yes, but the journal I am using this year also has some designated art space.  Often, I just keep on writing (due to # of pages in the journal as a whole), but I do sometimes make doodles, or put positivity quotes to remind me to be a kinder, gentler person.

2015 Daily Writing Journal

Early last year, I bought a Picadilly journal from my friend Tina Canupp that she had tarted up and I love the paper in those journals for actual writing. Tina had made some designated art pages in it, just using white paper (copy paper?) and washi tape with tip in flaps and some embellishments here and there. 

Tina actually made me a second custom journal which I will likely use next year for my musings....and it's not that I don't have any journals...... I have a gargantuan drawer full of them.  And I have many journals that friends have made me or I have made, still waiting to be used.  But when it comes to writing and paper, I want and like a certain feel of the paper, and how the pen or writing instrument glides (or doesn't) along the page.  Smooth is the name of the game for me.  And these Picadilly journals are great for just that...writing. 

 My choice of writing instruments varies, depending on my mood of the day, and what instrument is handy beside my recliner.    Most of the time, I prefer to write with a real, honest-to-goodness fountain pen, and my vintage pen and my Mont Blanc pens are my favorites and go-to pens.

Doodle Therapy - PaperMate Flair Pens
A favorite quote - with Prismacolor Pencil
But what else is in there?  Today I decided to show you some of what lurks within my daily writing journal.  Mostly they are just little bits of something.  A note, a quote, a biblical verse that has meaning to me, a doodle, lists of every imaginable type, and lettering practice sometimes.  If I art at all in my writing journal, (because I do not want to bulk it up more than it already is) I do not tip in additional art paper such as bristol or watercolor paper. I use what Tina put there. And because that paper is thin, I use one of these basic pen types that do not bleed through: A Sakura Gelly Roll, regular gel ink pens, Signo Uniball pens, PaperMate Flair pens or a Faber Castell Pitt pen.  If I add any additional color at all, it is almost always Prismacolor pencils, which live beside my recliner so they are easy to grab, relax and "color" when I finish my doodles or whatever. 

I have to admit, I have tried using some acrylic in there, but it wasn't successful and the page warping annoys me.  I also often highlight words within the writing with the colored pencil, or color block certain sections to draw me back to that day or thought.

Doodle on a paint chip tip-in flap
My daily writing journal is a place for me to unload the day, recap the day's events, highs and lows. I get to freely explore things about myself I need to address.  When the journal is all filled up, I will gesso over ALL THE WRITING and then add more art to it.  When I do this part, I will sometimes let some words peek through.  I know what's there. Nobody else needs to know.

I believe that what is written in my daily journal is generally for my eyes only, and rarely, if ever, for any type of public consumption.  I surely don't want to kick the bucket and have my family read all the entries for those "bad" days and the dark words that are sometimes there.  My journal is my healing place, my happy place. It is the one special world all my own, with no interaction with others and I can be brutally frank and honest with myself.  This type of writing is very cathartic for me.  So, all the more reason I add little quotes about positive "being."  I sometimes need those reminders to self.  Don't we all sometimes?  More times than not, I am journaling very late at night, just before retiring for the evening. Some doodles are wins, others are not.  But for me, it isn't about creating amazing art here. It's about relaxing. Unloading. Contemplation of the past, and hope for the future.
One of many lists!

So to continue, here's some more "peeks" at some of the random things that happen in my writing journal.  I don't mind sharing these with you, as a spark for your own journal. 

These snippets are just sometimes for the relaxing pleasure I derive from doodling, lettering practice, or just being creative and adding a little bit of color to my rantings. 

Sakura Gelly Roll and Prismacolor Pencils. Inspired by a printed tag made by Therese Ramsay I saw at an art show.

A not-so-successful doodle on a baby-wiped acrylic background.  But it was relaxing!

More Sunflowers-they are everywhere in my journal

Another quote on the bottom half of a day's writing that reminds me to let go of the small stuff and just don't sweat it.  I need daily reminders!

This page was an epic fail of painted on acrylic on that thin paper, then wiping off with a baby wipe.  The page is wavy, but there is color!

A little reminder at the bottom of a day's writing

Self-explanatory when it comes to who I am and what I drink....

<<A little "Scribble Art" I did the night after I finished my Artful Mail Groupies Scribble Art Swap.  These are fun to why not?

>> I try to keep myself centered with faith-based notes and quotes to myself.  These always seem to fit nicely on the art pages in this journal, and usually just take a few minutes.  Remember, I'm talking to myself...... not making quality art here. LOL

So there you  have it.  A few select items from the pages of my daily life out of my real "journaling" journal.  My reminders. My self-healing quotes.  Things I want to remember to reinforce in my life.  This writing journal is almost full, and soon ALL the pages will be prepped and ready for more art.  Maybe I will do a lot of collage in this one when it's all finished.  Lord knows I have plenty of papers, bits and bobs to create something else! You see I must create. Everywhere.

Keep color in your world, keep artful in your thoughts. And most of all, keep creating and let it all out!

~~Betty aka Arty Auntie

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Artful Journeys - Week #39 "Tea Time"

Tea Time... really?  And they (the other girls) are saying this to a die-hard coffee fiend?  Yes, they insisted.  Nobody griped about the prompt.  Except for my private, quiet gritching.  I made something snarky first, but thought.......nahhh.  Better not go there.  But it's in my journal.  Tea?  pfffffffft.  But in the spirit of going along and getting along, I pulled my mind out of the gutter and started over.  And my mind went straight to Alice in Wonderland.  I love that book. I love all the original drawings by John Tenniel.  I love everything about it.  So off I went.

I found the original drawings by Tenniel online and blew up the tea party scene and printed it out on 8.5" x 11" glossy photo paper.  I dragged out all my alcohol inks and a new packet of aqua brushes and my spritzer bottle of rubbing alcohol and got busy.  Oh what fun this was.  Not exactly like "coloring" and not exactly like "painting".  The alcohol ink goes on really smoothly on the photo paper and blends really nicely with a little dip of the tip in alcohol.  Whatever it was in the end, it was great, and I like how it turned out.  While working on this, I recalled this wonderful story and now I have a big smile on my face and the gritching is all gone.  Quote on a shaving foam background on 140 lb cold press watercolor paper with a bold Signo Uniball for the lettering.

Yes, Alice, we are ALL mad here.......

I hope you like what I did this week.  It surely put a smile on my face.  Be sure and go see the fun over on Melody and Shana's blogs, and as always, visit Artful Chicks to see Lynn's.

Have a very artful week, y'all.
~~Betty aka Arty Auntie

Sunday, September 20, 2015


We're thinking about fall this week, although it is still a long way off for us here in North Texas.  We don't have tons of trees that turn beautiful colors.  What we do have is continued hot weather and a drought, so leaves have been falling here all summer, and turning a crunchy, dead brown.  But those of you living where you have beautiful maples and birch trees and others that turn gorgeous shades during the fall, I am sure some of you are already enjoying nature's artful display.

Folks like myself have to create the beauty of autumnal leaves with the bold, warm colors of fall.  And that's exactly what I've done for myself.  I love "fall" in North Texas, although it is extremely short.  Our weather is most predictable during this time of year, we have cool evenings and moderate temperatures during the day.  This is when we go outside to play and work and enjoy a respite from the heat.

For my journal spread, I scraped on some Liquitex Basics in Raw Umber and enhanced with some Dylusions Spray ink in Melted Chocolate.  I used this fantastic advertisement for M&M's candies I saw in one of my new magazines.  If you look closely, you can see that someone has taken an inordinate amount of time and created those fun leaves wholly out of M&M's.  The minute I saw it, I knew I would be using it somehow, and today was the day.

I used some "found" letters to create the word "AUTUMN" down the left margin, and added the words with a Sakura Gelly pen in white.  All my white Signo Uniball pens with the bold tip are out of ink (more online retail therapy needed), so this was going to have to do today.  I added some loose silk fall leaves for additional interest.  The verse was something I was inspired by that I saw on Google.

The verse reads:
A lways catches me off guard 
U nwanted though it is not 
T rees turning color   
U topian weather  
M y favorite season   
N ever lasts long enough

So wherever you are, and wherever you may roam, I hope that you are able to enjoy the splendor of the autumnal art that Mother Nature will be displaying.

Make it a great week!


Monday, September 14, 2015

Artful Journeys, Week #37 "Let's Go to the Fair"

Fair season is here!  Yay!!   I love going to the fair, thinking about the fair, eating my way around the fair.  And yes, I love the exhibits and all the sights and sounds that make up the great State Fair of Texas.

The State Fair of Texas began in 1886 and has continued annually except for a few missing years during WWI and WWII.  It generally always starts the last Friday in September and runs for 24 days. During the run of the fair, there are over 2.5 million visitors, making it one of the highest attended fairs in the world.  The 80 acre grounds at historic Fair Park houses one of the greatest collections of art deco buildings in the world, that have been renovated to their full 1936 visual glory. Many are still undergoing structural renovations.  Fair Park houses the grand Hall of State, several museums, the aquarium, the State Fair Music Hall, Starplex and other attractions.  Many special events are held on the grounds throughout the year and Fair Park has undergone many changes, renovations and upgrades throughout the years.  The first Red River Rivaly (Texas-OU game) took place in 1929.

The Texas Star at night

We had the proud distinction of installing the largest ferris wheel in North America in 1985, known as the Texas Star. It is 212 feet tall, weighs in at 678,554 pounds, at an initial cost of $2.2 million dollars (Things are always bigger and better in Texas, aren't they?) Sadly, the Star of Puebla in Mexico installed in 2013 stands at 250 feet.

The fair hasn't gone by all these years without a few catastrophes, including the collapse of the gondolas (Swiss Sky Ride) in 1979 causing its total removal, several ride incidents, the removal in 1989 of the Texas Comet Roller Coaster that had been in place since 1947.

Debut of Big Tex, 1952
Fire - October 12, 2012

The biggest and saddest catastrophe of all was the fire that destroyed our beloved Big Tex on October 19, 2012. Texans loved and totally identified with Big Tex, who started his life as a big wire framed Santa Claus, but transformed to Big Tex in 1952 and was and still is a fixture at the entrance to the Midway.  Big Tex is a common meeting place to rendevous with friends and family and I would hazard to guess 100's of thousands of photographs have been taken there.

As a child, we couldn't wait until "fair day."  Admission tickets were (and still are) given to all school age children in the state to attend the annual State Fair of Texas.  My mother would take us, with picnic basket in hand.  Back in the day, buying a lot of fair food was just not economically feasible for my mother, but she labored diligently every year making a great picnic of fried chicken and all the trimmings. We would almost always have lunch on the grounds of the Hall of State building that is regal and currently houses a significant amount of historical artifacts for the State of Texas.  How she lugged around that heavy basket all day, in a dress, with heels on, I will never know. Thank goodness I never had to do that.

After joining the band in 7th grade, fair trips were always on the band bus until I graduated from high school. We played concerts at the Hall of State, and we always very disappointed if our time was scheduled for late in the day. We wanted to be one of the first bands to perform in the mornings so we could have the entire day to have fun with our friends.  Bands always marched in the Twilight Parade each evening, bringing a close to a long day of fun and merriment.

I have missed very few State Fairs in my lifetime.  When I was living overseas, and a few years here and there.  When my brother was working the parade with the Scottish Rite band, we would go every day and schedule our visits to exhibits throughout the entire run of the fair.  And our first stop was ALWAYS to the Fletcher Corny Dog stand.  Seems like nowadays, we are planning our visits around the grounds based on what food we want to try next.  And there is always something new and exciting to try.  Dieting during the fair is not an option.  Most everything we want, and we get, is your basic heart attack on a plate.  But it is so worth it.

What I did for my spread this week is based on my fondest memories of the fair.  The food, the rides, the exhibits, The Hall of State.  I tried making a spread all in black and white and shades of gray, but it just wasn't working for me.  So I gathered together some favorite vintage and new photographs and prepared this digital collage, that I have printed and added to my Canson mixed media journal. The background started as a vintage 1960's postcard that has been modified and of course added to and enhanced with some of my favorite fair images.

I hope you like what I prepared and that you will hop on over to see what Melody and Shana made this week too.

Here's hoping you get to go to a fair near you this fall.  I'm definitely making my annual sojourn to the Great State Fair of Texas in just a few short days.  The anticipation is killing me!

As always, keep it artful!