Saturday, January 31, 2015

Artful Journeys Week #5 - February Calendar

Can  you believe it is February already?  Why is it that when you are a kid, time just drags along and you think tomorrow will never arrive?  And now that I am O.L.D. time just whizzes by like a bullet train.

When I think of February, my heart always gets excited.  February not only is the month of love, the month we honor the American Heart Association by wearing RED, but in north Texas, it also heralds early signs of spring.  Our days are getting warmer (although sporadically), and as we typically enjoy mild winters, this has been one of the mildest I can remember in recent history.  We were in the mid to upper 70s all week this week.  The hubs got out and tilled the garden again for the umpteenth time and got our onion sets all planted.  We have to plant early because it gets really HOT here in the summertime.  We can regale you with those stories later!

Almost always, I get a box of one of my favorite chocolates from Russell Stover -- the Raspberry Parfaits or Adelaides. I don't need any heart-shaped boxes of candy.  I like what I like.  ha.  Heaven knows I don't need either. I am fluffy enough already.  It is always nice to have a special day where your loved one shows you some attention and reminds you how much you are loved.  Those special times are to be hung onto and treasured, no matter what day of the year that love comes spewing forth.  And, my Mother's birthday is at the end of the month.  She would be 90 this year.  Is that right?  Wow.  When I stop and think about that, it blows me away.  90.  Such a big number.  She has been gone from us since 2008, and not a day goes by that I don't miss her.  The love has never waned and never will.  If your Mother is still around, give her an extra big hug and kiss and think of me. Tell her how much you love her, appreciate her and thank her for being a great mom.  I would if mine were still here.

But I digress.  You're here to see our prompt this week.  And what fun it was.

Our prompt was to create a February calendar  using red, pink and white (and any other colors that suit your fancy).

  • Gesso
  • Liquitex Basics Acrylic - Napthol Crimson
  • Liquitex Basics Acrylic - Medium Magenta
  • Liquitex Basics Acrylic - Brilliant Purple
  • Liquitex Heavy Body Acrylic - Alizarin Crimson
  • Daler-Rowney Simply Acrylic - White
  • Daler-Rowney Simply Acrylic - Brilliant Red
  • Aquatec Acrylic Polymer - Cadmium Red Light
  • Apple Barrel Craft Acrylic - Pink Parfait
  • Apple Barrel Craft Acrylic - Bright Magenta
  • Stampin' Up Hearts & Swirls background stamp
  • Blue jar opener gripper thingy for texture
  • Fiskars Heart Punch (small)
  • Punch cut scrapbook paper letters
  • Bone folder
  • Cosmetic sponge 
  • DIY "Mod Podge"; Elmer's Glue; UHU Glue Stick
  • Assorted glitter stickers 
  • Assorted small rubber stamps 
  • Staz-On Stamp Pad - black 
  • Bold Uniball Signo Pen - white 
  • Bold Uniball Signo Pen - black
  • Sakura Gelly Pen - black

I had fun making this calendar this month.  I love to save cardboard.  Always sturdy. Always fun to alter.  I opened up a saved frozen pizza box and started slapping down some paint with my 6" hard rubber brayer.  Bray this way, then that way.  Add some more paint layers. Do it again.  Let it dry while you go get a fresh cup of coffee.  Come back.  Add some more.  There.

Now--that was looking pretty good.  So I grabbed up my swirly heart background stamp and applied Pink Parfait to the stamp with a cosmetic sponge and stamped and repeated a few times.  I love this method of stamping because I am stamping acrylic on acrylic and get a much better and smoother stamping as opposed to using just stamp pad ink with these large background stamps.

For more textural effect, I grabbed this rubber jar opener thingy and spread some remaining Pink Parfait craft paint on it, and slapped it down on the page here and there, "re-inking" with the paint on my brayer a few times.

Then I thought I had better turn my attention to how I wanted the "month" to appear.  I have all manner and sort of stickers and letters and letter punches.  I tried all various colors laying against the background and decided to go with some black and ivory mixed scrapbooking papers to make the month title pop on the page.  I laid them out, glued them on with some DIY "Mod Podge" (saving my expensive gel medium).  I embellished a few of the letters with my Signo Uniball pens, and outlined the whole thing.

Next, I turned my attention to laying out the calender.  I knew I wanted to leave some journaling space and some "planner" space on the calendar.  Measure the cardboard I just painted against my Canson Mixed Media journal I planned to put it in.  Size was nearly perfect.  I trimmed it to the size I wanted and then spread DIY Podge all over the journal pages and the back of the cardboard and set about affixing it to the journal.  This part took some time and some weighty books since this cardboard wants to curl when it is wet.  More coffee.  A few pinches here and there.  Zap it with the heat gun.  All good.

First a quick peek at a printed February calendar. Great 4 even weeks.  Then I gridded out the squares and used my Bold White Uniball Signo pen and outlined the whole thing.  While the squares are not evenly gridded, they are fine.  I usually don't put much on my calendars on Saturday and Sundays anyway.  And we're not making museum art, right?

I also gridded out the "planner" part of my calendar page on the blank space I had on the left side of the page.  A few fun stamps were added for color and whimsey.  I used 2 different alpha stamp sets for the days of the week and a black Staz-On stamp pad.

Using my small heart punch and some pink cardstock, I punch cut 28 little hearts to use for the days and numbered each of them with a black Sakura Gelly pen and affixed with a small swipe of UHU glue stick.

More.  I am working hard to "just add more" to my work.  Out comes the button box.  There are some cool ones in there, so I added a few of those.  And a nifty little felt heart added to the Valentine's Day square.

Then some glitter stickers with the words "Love" and "Hearts", outlined with the Signo Uniball pen.

A few more doodly things here and there.  Added Mother's birthday, not that I needed reminding -- just because.

And here is the finished spread.  I left plenty of room for me to journal at the bottom as the month wears on and stuff starts to happen.

We have a lot going on in Artful Journeys this month, and I am anxious to see what beautiful creations you come up with for your February calender.

Leave me some blog love if you like.  It always warms my heart to know you are actually reading these posts.

Staying artful!
~~Betty aka Arty Auntie

Sunday, January 25, 2015

2015 Sin City Stamps Design Team Announced!

Sin City Stamps  has announced their 2015 Design Team!

How wonderful to see two amazing friends on a stellar design team!  Congratulations to Tamiko McCurry and Sandee Setliff for this honor and recognition of your fabulous talents.

Go check out the whole team, and leave Tamiko and Sandee and their new colleagues some blog love here

You can visit Tamiko's blog at Miko's Spot and visit Sandee at her blog, In the Hills of North Carolina

Congratulations, ladies.  I know you will continue to inspire and motivate the world!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Week #4 - Artful Journeys

Wow!  The whole month of January has just flown by!  We are already to week #4 and our prompts this week are:  "Favorite Sports Team" and/or "Under The Sea".

 When we came up with the initial prompt, we were thinking about the Super Bowl, the Pro Bowl and all the fun things that happen with sports in the winter time.

We aren't big sports fans in my house, unless you count the hubs' total fascination with Nascar.  Not my cup of tea (either one).  Now, if the Dallas Cowboys were playing in the Super Bowl, I would so be right in front of the television cheering them on.  But since they literally dropped the ball during championship game, the fizz went out of my brewski.  No fun for me if the hometown team isn't playing, so it is easy to get involved with something else.

I racked my brain for ideas.  No mojo.  I let it rest and went on to something else.  Tick tock. The clock was ticking and time was running short.  So just a short 3 days ago, I struck upon this idea to run with the "no sports" thing.  I finished it last night.  Nothing like waiting to the last minute, right? A deadline is a great motivator!


  • Liquitex Heavy Body Acrylic Paint - Chromium Oxide Green, Brilliant Yellow Green
  • Craft acrylic paint - White, Bright Yellow, Spring Green, Caterpillar
  • NeoColor II watersoluble crayons - black, cadmium red, dark blue, pink, green, orange, bright yellow
  • Watercolor paint
  • Black China marker
  • Copic Marker in Leather
  • Chipboard letter "N"
  • EK Success 1-1/4" circle punch
  • EK Success small oval punch
  • Sakura Gelly pens in black, red, dark brown & white
  • Bold Uniball Signo pens in Black & White
  • Faber Castell black Calligraphy nib pen
  • Corrugated cardboard as a stencil
  • Green tinted sisal twine
  • Alene's Tacky Glue
  • Credit card for sraping
  • Medium flat sable brush & #4 filbert brush
  • Vintage lady image found on Pinterest

When I initially started the background in greens, I was thinking about turf grass.  If I had it to do over, I might choose another base color. But there it was, and I just kept letting it unfold organically.  I added 3 different greens and scraped them all on this way and that with the edge of a credit card.  Then I added some stencil marks all over it with a dark Pine Needle craft paint with the inside "corrugated" part off a coffee sleeve I salvaged from Starbucks that I just painted with the acrylic paint and stamped away here and there all over the page.  I find tools and inspiration everywhere.....especially when drinking coffee!

I kept looking at that page. Now what?  I knew I had printed off some vintage ladies and began rummaging through my vintage ladies box to find one that suited my mood and attitude. There she was.  I snatched her up, fussy cut her out (she was on slick cardstock).  I used some NeoColor II's to add color highlights to her to make her stand out a little more on the page.  I adhered with Alene's Tacky glue that I spread on very thin, and used the edge of a clean gift card to spread it out and smooth it down.

How to tie in the sports?  I'm not loving this prompt at all and still wasn't much enthused about it.  Then it hit me.....what about some floating balls like my lady was thinking about all those sports and how much she detested them.  So, punch out some circles and an oval.  Baseball, basketball, soccer ball & football.  Researched Google for some images.  I found drawing the soccer ball the hardest of all.  You wouldn't think it would be so difficult until you put that pencil down.  But I managed to get something that sort of resembled a soccer ball.  I chose these because their images are so iconic and easily opposed to a ping pong ball or golf ball, which I knew I would never get to look like a real golf ball.  LOL So I got all that going and done and affixed to the page again with Alene's Tacky Glue, smoothing out so there would be no wrinkles.

I didn't like all that dark green, so I mixed up some white and added a dot of Chromium Oxide Green and Brilliant Yellow Green together and brushed it on in broad, loose strokes sort of down the center left of the page.  I needed a place to do some slow journaling.

There.  That was better, but I pretty much covered up all of the corrugated stenciling.  Oh well.  Such is art journaling!

Still boring.  I dipped my finger in some of the leftover mixed-up paint and made some dots around the page with my index finger. Dried with the trusty heat gun.  Remember I am in a hurry now... whipped out the trusty white and black Uniball Signos and went around some of those dots with some circles and made some more.  Better.

What to say?  I wanted whatever she said to be a little snarky, a little sassy and a whole lot of me.  I don't like to sweat.  I am not good at sports that require sweating.  (I do excel at water sports!) So, I just started, thinking of a sweet southern belle sitting on the veranda on a crisp, cool evening sipping a little mint julep.  Ahhhhhh, that is heaven.  So I just started with her talking, "No, sports for me, darlin' -- I don't DO "sweat."   That was pretty snarky and sassy, right?  Can't you just visualize her sipping away and laughing at the boys playing tag football on the lawn??  I surely can.  She tires of watching all that activity and asks "Pass the mint juleps please".  There.  That's it.  That's enough, and it says it all, at least to me.

I had a big blank space left at the bottom so I doodled up some quirky little flowers and colored them in with NeoColor II's to represent her lovely garden, just a step off that veranda.  The smell of blooming flowers wafting in the air against the crisp, cool evening.  Heaven on earth.

Should I doodle a border?  No border?  Paint it?  <sigh>  Back to the stash.  Digging. Rummaging. Aha!  There's a big spool of green dyed sisal twine.  Dark green.  Perfect contrast.  Since I love swirly, swoopy lines, I made some squiggly glue lines with Alene's Tacky Glue and began to cover that with the sisal twine.  Perfect. Great contrast on the page. Texture.  A little more visual interest.

All in all, it turned out rather well, considering my disdain for participating in or watching organized sports that require sweating or large crowds (I don't suffer those well, either).

As an alternate prompt - in the event YOU don't do sports either, we give you "Under the Sea" to work with.  I have previously done some journal pages with this theme, so decided to pass on doing another.  Here's a peek at a collaborative journal page with this theme that I did much earlier this year.  The page owner, Martika Patton did the watercolor background, and I added all the fishes and creatures from stamped images I had received in Happy Mail, coloring with Copic Marker and then fussy cutting them all out and applying to the watercolor page.  I then sent it along to the next person to add their "touch"

As an alternate prompt - in the event YOU don't do sports either, we give you "Under the Sea" to work with.  I have previously done some journal pages with this theme, so decided to pass on doing another.  Here's a peek at a collaborative journal page with this theme that I did much earlier this year.  The page owner, Martika Patton did the watercolor background, and I added mermaid, the fishes, & creatures from stamped images I had received in Happy Mail, coloring with Copic Marker and then fussy cutting them all out and applying to the watercolor page.  I then sent it along to the next person to add their "touch"

Here is a padded mailer I did with an "Under the Sea" theme in acrylics with a cute (and el cheapo) little fishy foam stamp and a Uniball Signo pen in white.

Have a look at what Melody Elzy, Tamie Wilson & Lynn Jackson contributed to this week's prompts on our blog:  Artful Chicks

Can't wait to see what you all come up with this week.  Be sure and share your images on the group feed at Artful Journeys~!!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Hot New Blog Banner!

I am so pleased to unveil my fabulous new banner today.... designed especially for me by my dear friend, Tamie Rodriguez Wilson, artist and graphic designer extraordinaire!

If you aren't familiar with Tamie's work, you need to visit her blog, Tamie is Preserving Memories, and often, and check out all the fabulous artwork she creates.  She likes to call it the "madness" in her head.  I like to call it "genius."

Thank you, Tamie for making very have a huge smile on my face today and dancing the happy piggie dance.   I couldn't be more pleased.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Artful Journeys Week #3 - Paint It Blue

Our challenge this week at Artful Journeys was to only use a palette knife or credit card to create the background page, and of course it had to include the color blue.

I love working with a palette knife and the credit card technique of smearing on your paint. Both instruments can give wondrous effects of texture, non-texture and blending of your paint colors. I was inspired by a calender I have by Suzy Toronto that I found in a truck stop of all places. Her artwork is amazing, and her words of inspiration and positive introspection made me really stop and think.  You can see that inspiration at the bottom of this post.

What is it about making waves?  Not the negative kind of waves...the positive kind.  How do we make that work in a stormy world was my big question.  

I had a lot of thought processes about this subject and decided that in order to make our way in the world, we must always listen to our hearts, regardless of the "waves" that we make along life's twisted path. Many artists walk to the beat of a different drummer as the saying goes, and the artist creates work that pleases himself, not the rest of the world.  If the world likes it, all the better.  If it makes controversy, the artist is making you stop and think and evoke some sort of emotion, which generally speaking, is the point.  Are you making a statement about a particular subject?  Can you express your own emotion into your work and make it meaningful to you?  That is the primary reason most of us create and journal.  It is all a reflection of ourselves.  We're making waves, one page at a time.  We're being introspective, looking deep within and finding meaning to the concerns in our hearts and translating that emotion to the page or canvas.  A month from now we will look back at where we started and see progression; a year from now we see herculean growth, both as an artist and as a person.  We're making waves. We're helping each other.  We're finding the sunshine on a stormy sea and know that the storm shall pass and when it does, we have survived it, grown from it, healed from the wounds caused by that storm and have enriched our own lives and perhaps the lives of others through the powers of positive thinking and wave making.

Let's look at my creation this week...a double page spread in my large Dylusions journal with Liquitex Basic tube Acrylics and a triangular palette knife.  As I said I was inspired by this one calendar page about making waves.  So out those waves came with a schmear, a dab, a little slice here and there in gradient shades of blue.  I wanted it uneven, like a stormy sea.  I left the paint to dry in long blob lines for lack of a better description, others in a swirling motion with the palette knife, blending each color ever so slightly with the tip of the palette knife.

I was so enthused about this stormy sea, I did it first, which I shouldn't have done.  But I hadn't settled on a "sky" color when I started.  I wasn't sure whether it should be a dark and stormy sky, or a clear sky, signifying the passing of the storm.  I rather liked the thought of the juxtaposition of the stormy sea and a calm, clear sky, so ended up making a sunlit sky with some Moon Yellow craft acrylic.   Craft acrylic is inherently thin and I found it more difficult to work with with the palette knife, especially since I added it AFTER the water was done.  I did have to go back and do some touch up work with my sky blue color at the horizon line, but think I was successful enough in getting it blended together.  After the whole thing was good and dry, I used some white Basic tube acrylic and a #6 round brush and added the sea "foam" to the waves, giving it a little more motion and definition and a  more "wave-like" effect.  Not perfect, but neither am I.  But I think you get the gist of the thing and where I wanted to end up.

Go forth into your art and in your world and make some positive waves. Keep expressing yourself, growing artistically and intellectually by your own insight.  And if you make some waves along the way, all the better.

Inspiration calendar page by Suzy Toronto
This is the page that inspired me, and here are Suzy Toronto's words...

"Now be a good girl, and don't make any waves"

That's got to be the most ridiculous statement I have ever heard. Not only do I plan on making waves, I'm trying to figure out how to start a typhoon and really rock the world.

I believe that playing "small" and timid doesn't serve anyone. When we let our power and light fully shine from within, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. And, by doing so, we get up each day to a life that is not only worth living, but truly worth loving as well. So be the change the world needs. Set the new standard. Make a difference whenever and wherever you can.  And while you're at it... go ahead and make some waves!

Here's another "blue" page I created in my Graphique pocket journal this past week with craft acrylic in Admiral Blue.  I stippled the edges with a flat stippling/stencil brush and also used a little heart and a flower stamp and some Staz On blue ink.  Flowers outlined with black china marker.  The girl is a little foam stamp that was waiting patiently in my ephemera box.  I find working in all shades of blue to be quite calming for me.  The colors definitely don't make me "blue" (as in sad) but rather the color tends to invigorate me and soothe my sometimes ruffled feathers.

Come visit us at Artful Chicks and see what the rest of the admin team is up to this week and their interpretation of this prompt.  You won't be disappointed.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Artful Journeys Week 2 - Selfie & More

Wow, we're in our official week 2 already, and 8 weeks into a wonderful, artistic adventure at Artful Journeys.

This week, we are exploring ourselves.  Since I always have my real "selfie" on my Facebook profile and most everyone already knows what I really look like (the good and the bad-- ha) I went a little different this week.  In fact, I made two spreads, several weeks apart and finished this one this evening.  Nothing like waiting to the last minute, huh?  My brother always says that it isn't procrastination if you plan on doing it later......

Why do we talk bad to ourselves?  There is nothing positive about that.  Is it a conditioned response? Approval seeking from others?  Whatever the reason, I vowed that this year I would do my darndest to focus on self-empowerment, positivity, gratitude and of course, simplification.  My inner critic is a crazy mad woman, so I am learning to talk bad to her, not to myself.  I listened to enough negativity growing up to last ten lifetimes.  I don't have to reinforce it, and I choose not to.  I know my worth in this world, and I know that I am filled with tons of good.  Way more good than bad, and a ton more positive things than negative.  I want to work on eliminating that negativity and focus on the positive, so here goes.

This spread is in my large Dylusions journal -- in fact, the first spread in it.  I had been putting off working on those beautiful, pristine pages.  It was time to play a little with the journal, the supplies and take on some self exploration.

First, I knew I wanted to do a resist for the words, and used a Sakura Glaze Pen in white to write out the words.  I then ripped a page out of an old hymnal and a 1949 US government book page, tearing all around the edges.  The vintage woman image I had printed out quite some time ago that I found online, tearing around the edges.  I smacked those down with a UHU glue stick, and smoothed them out with a credit card and let them dry really well for about an hour.  I have always liked the effect of torn edges. You can do a lot with those raggedy edges.

Sadly, I didn't choose a darker color for my initial spritzes with my Dylusions sprays and the resist work did not show up all that well.  It worked, but next time, I will start with a darker base color. First a few spritzes with Tangerine, Sunshine yellow and Postal Red and a blast or two of Bubble Gum Pink.  I used a smoothing pad in a few places where I got a bit carried away, and this did help speed up the drying process.

Once the paper was dry, I then set about with some burnt umber Liquitex acrylic that I watered down and put around the edges of the book pages and my vintage lady with my fingers.  I wanted a softer, more muted effect and the thinned burnt umber achieved the look I was wanting.

I then grabbed a bottle of Caribbean blue craft acrylic and brought in a little brighter color with some swooshes and squiggles.  These are technical terms, right?   Then some white circles and dots, and burnt umber circles with the cap off an old glue stick.  And I even threw in a little gold in there too, although it doesn't show up that well in the photograph.

Because the resist didn't show up that well for me, I used a White Uniball Signo pen and went over the descriptive words, followed by a black Uniball Signo pen.  The all-white just didn't cut it for me.
I did add a little more personal words in my text blocks in white, more to force myself to journal/write a little more.

Overall, I am pretty happy with the end result.  And I will continue to focus on the things that are positive in my life throughout the year.  This is a great reminder.
Be sure and visit the Artful Chicks blog and check out what the rest of the team made this week. You won't be disappointed.  See it here.   And be sure and post your journal spread over at Artful Journeys so we can continue to support you as a person, and your art!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Exploring Sharp vs. Blurry

Crisp, clear and sharp or soft and blurry?

We are talking about art, but are we also talking about life? Are we exploring that juncture  between what is clear and what is not?  Often, what is seen clearly by one is frequently blurry to another.  I think we have to wade through the blur to reach a point of clarity. Many would say the converse would be true, but I choose  the former.  Like wading through the mud to reach hard, dry land.  From the fog emerges a clear sky.

What brings all this on today?  Well, a prompt at Daisy Yellow where Tammy Garcia asks us to explore clear and sharp versus soft and blurry.  I immediately began to see parallels to real life.  More art imitating life or life imitating art?  Seems I have more questions than answers these days, but something to ponder over the course of a few days or months to be sure.

Working in my Graphique unlined pocket journal where I often explore different techniques, trial and error experiments, make notes, ponder ideas, document supplies and so forth (basically a junk journal of sorts), I immediately had an idea from this prompt. And I ended up trying many different things.

The first was the idea of dots and triangles holding and releasing color and draining down to the bottom.  Clear and sharp at the top, soft and blurry at the bottom.  The effect wasn't what I was going for, but it was not my intention to make something memorable. This is more of an exercise.

While my pocket journal is not particularly suited to a lot of heavy wet work, it will hold up to a light hand with watercolor, gouache and acrylic.  But you can't get too heavy handed with it or the paper starts to pill up.

And remember, I am not a skilled sketcher or drawing artist when you look at this next effort.  Especially when I have nothing to look at.  We're capturing the "essence" -- remember?

The idea was a running faucet and pooling water. Because I sketched straight in with a black pen, the big giant "drop" of water is well, horrible.  But remember, I am just playing and experimenting.  Coming out of the faucet hard and fast and pooling underneath.  I think I definitely captured the pooling thing, but the faucet and the giant "drip" -- not so much.

Okay, since that one was a fail, I decided to mix it up a little more.  More color.  Softer edges.  This time, I added a little lettering with a purple fine tip Sharpie marker.  Yes, I dragged my shirt sleeve across a few of the lines while they were still wet. Oh well.  I'm just playing.  No big deal.  I do like this one a little bit more.......

So, gee, that was fun.  Let' s make another.  Why not?  The husband is busy watching television and not talking.  More quality time.  Yee haw.

Back to drips and drops.  I had in my mind the words "Don't cry me an ocean".  Definitely got softer, blurrier.  My ocean goes uphill and it is windy on one side and smooth on the other.  As in life, nothing is perfect.  Move along little doggie.

So I decided vertical wasn't working for me.  Let's try horizontal. Still with the watercolors.  Blurry isn't happening so much with the yellow. It seems more of a "blending" from the last  horizontal stroke.  I did schmear it around while wet with my finger.  Not soft enough. Not blurry enough to suit me. too blah.  Kicking the proverbial doggie to move along yet again.

So, one last shot.  Dig out some Prismacolor pencils.  Soft and fuzzy, followed by definitely clear and sharp.  No blending stump available at my recliner. Too lazy to get up.  Hands were too cold and too clean to affect the pencil by rubbing.  But you see the concept for sure.  Maybe later I will add some ephemera, or maybe not.

Perhaps the next few pages I will play with doing this in acrylic. I can definitely get that "schmear" on with the fingers. Nothing more fun than paint on the fingers.

So, during this process what did I learn?  Blurry is definitely more difficult in art, at least for me.  Blurry is definitely difficult for me in real life.  I prefer order, clear and concise, exact and to the point.  Muddying up my art, like in my life is way more difficult.  But we all have to wade through the blur to get to clarity.

How about you?

Doodle Painting

What do artists do when we're bored, talking on the phone or waiting?  We doodle, of course.

An artist / doodler would never be good at a high security job where doodling was verboten.  I know I surely wouldn't be any good with that kind of thing.  I tend to doodle things I see; jot down words I hear and draw endless open boxes.  Yes, that's my primary doodle thing, open boxes.  Oh and arrows pointing toward things. While I didn't doodle any of those things here (this was a little more contrived doodling than normal), I still had fun filling up all those random boxes.

Spurred on by a post by Tammy Garcia at Daisy Yellow, and always willing to play with my watercolors or gouache, I grabbed up a black Sakura Gelly pen and made a bunch of random boxes on 9x12" watercolor paper.  No scary white page here.  Just make some random boxes of varying height, width and shape.  The tricky part of course is what you put in them.  Maybe you will actually do some random doodles. I wanted to put in some "sparks" and some fun into mine.

After all, isn't art about fun?  

After I had created all the boxes, I then set about with my watercolors to fill them in.  Since I was "sort of" watching a program on television with the husband (quality time, right?) I just pulled out my Koi Field Watercolor set. Plenty of choices.  And I fixed up a jar of water, brought in a paper towel and just used my #6 pointed round brush.  No rhyme or reason to the color choices, but totally random selection -- just like doodles. Random.  I had grabbed a Faber Castell Calligraphy nib pen to make all my "doodles". Some of the things in my doodle boxes mean something to me, others are just for out and out grins and giggles.

Create some random fun for yourself and give it a shot.  Do it in your pocket journal while you're waiting somewhere, or in your favorite experiment journal or as I did, on a whole separate page.  No matter where you create it, you will have some fun.

Saturday, January 3, 2015


I like identifying a keyword or phrase as a touchstone for the coming new year. I don't do well with resolutions and find that after a few months, they've gone by the wayside anyway.  But one single word, or a short phrase, now that's something I can relate to.  Brief, to the point, direct.  And having that little touchstone in my journal that I am touching all year long is a constant reminder of where I want my focus to be for the year.  Having it near the front of my journal is the perfect place, and having it as our first official prompt for week 1, well, it is perfect.

This year, my keyword is SIMPLIFY.  Keep it simple.  Declutter.  And I am definitely going to be doing a lot of that this year.  As a rampant collector of "good stuff" most of my life, I am feeling the pressure of all of those collections. The dusting. The packing. The Unpacking.  The storing.  It is just getting to be too much, no matter how much I love all those treasures. It is time for most of it to find a new home, perhaps to go live with some of the nieces, to pass down those family treasures that I have been the keeper of for most of my adult life. Perhaps they go live somewhere outside the family. Mother is gone. She will never know.  And if the girls don't want those "treasures" -- then surely someone else might.  But out they must go.  THIS YEAR.  I am committed and determined to make this the year I free myself from excess "stuff".

So in order to start the year off right, I started it off simply, after some not-so-simple thought processes of where I wanted this to go.  I grabbed my beloved Derwent Inktense Blocks and poised to begin.  Nothing is as simple as a circle, the concentric and eternal ring of life.  Perfect.  I made the basic start with orange, red and maroon and gave the 3 colors a good smooth-out with a couple of baby wipes, blending as I went along.  The baby wipe really does most of the work, and the blending is really quite easy.

I fanned out in concentric rings and bands of color until I got to the purple phase, and used some NeoColorsII by Caran D'Ache for these rings, and again with the baby wipes to smooth and blend.

I then turned my attention to my idea.  A single lone tree, in a hot, sundown sky (it does look like that, doesn't it?).  The sun behind a tree makes a wonderful silhouette and I just started it with a #6 pointed round sable brush and black acrylic paint.  The limbs represent all that stuff I am divesting from my cluttery life.  They will all be gone soon, much like the look of this tree, devoid of the clutter or fullness of the leave (my stuff).  The tree was filled in and feathered at the bottom to give the effect of tree roots.  Roots.  My family roots run long and deep. A constant reminder of where I come from and what is really important in my life. Not "stuff." Makes me focus on the plan, right?

And lastly, the word. The touchstone. The goal:  SIMPLIFY.  Nothing could be simpler.  Now to make it all happen.  Less commitments outside the house this year.  Fewer commitments that eat up my time.  Less time online and more time for myself and my art.  More time for the family.  My OCD is starting to kick in and take over like it should. Schedule that time and stick to it. Make an appointment with myself. Block out that special "me" time and family / husband time and get that "stuff" into those boxes and out the door, no matter where it goes.  Less dusting.  Yay.  I see this plan coming together nicely.

What keyword or phrase will you be focusing on this year?

She Sings

In life, as in art, we have to express ourselves based on what resides within us, whether we are singing, painting gentle strokes with a paintbrush, or dancing like no one is watching.  I am finding that the simpler things in life truly make me the happiest.  Am I facing my own mortality? I don't know for sure, but likely, given I have lived 6 decades on this earth and do not know what the future holds or how long I shall continue to enjoy this life.  Certainly something to think about.  Something I am thinking about these days.  But this post is not about such maudlin things as that.

Creating, for me, is something I MUST do.  I have to do it.  It doesn't matter whether I'm slinging paint and glitter or whipping up something delicious in the kitchen or refinishing and saving an old piece of furniture.  All of that is creating in my world.  I move the furniture around in the house to get new perspectives.  I rehang pictures.  I move around my collectibles to new locations, making them all fresh again.

These two postcards express all of that for me.  "She sings because she has a song" sums it up quite nicely.  We create because we have to do it, feel the need to do it, to get out that "something" within us that needs to be expressed.

Both backgrounds were generously sent to me in happy mail.  The red one is embossing on cardstock that I embellished with pastel and fussy cut out an image from an old pocket calendar I had been hanging onto.  Simple, but powerful.

The blue background is lovely and the layering of paint and paper and texture is quite satisfying.  It was a much larger piece, and once I cut it to size was more in love with it than before.  Again, I fussy cut out the back of that old pocket calendar and collaged to the background.

Nothing hard or difficult about either of these pieces.  I basically turned scrap into something beautiful and powerful. Create because you have to do it.  Create because you want to do it.  Turn play papers into something and change the perspective. This is what I did.

Both these postcards will be flying to their new homes on Monday.  I hope the recipients like them as much as I do.