Art Feed

Hello, Journals, My Old Friends

I don't know the when, and I don't know the why. But, here's the what: I stopped working in my art journals and working in those journals happened pretty much daily. Somehow, gradually over time, this thing that was beyond important to me simply ceased.

Yesterday morning, I pulled one out of its hiding place - one made up of mostly blank pages. I thought about getting a new one; you know the drill - new and exciting would make me dive in, but I quickly realized that I owned enough journals to start my own little art store. Some new, some old. Some professionally bound, others handmade by me or another artist. Some sported line paper, others watercolor paper.

Pretty much, my studio offered up an all you can eat buffet of journals.

My art room exists in a state of semi-chaos right now. I've been tossing or donating bags of stuff, whittling it down to what I truly love. Piles teeter in several places; the art room lives in that state of it gets better before it gets worse.


So, I cleared a few piles off the table, and I sat there staring at the blank page, not sure where to begin, and not sure what I wanted to do. Other than knowing I felt hungry for mixed media, no plan existed.

I started collaging...wax paper that served as under paper in a previous life, deli paper that once protected other journal pages or acted as palette sheets, a few scraps of fun papers, some clippings from magazines, some previously stamped images on maps and texts.

Glue. Paint. Move everything around.

Decide I didn't like it; cover it up. Add some paint, and oh, God, why did I do that?

Pull out the stencils.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Lord, I'm rusty!

Eventually, I coaxed her into an appearance - a rather wonky "angel" of sorts. I don't normally "crown" my ladies, but she was too short for the page, just out of whack  proportionally. I gave her roses and then antlers. I'm not sure why, but she told me she needed some. And, then, some wings fashioned from flower petals.


She sat for a bit in all her glory yesterday because I needed to figure out what to do with the other half of this spread. This morning, going back through some notes from last weekend's art retreat, I came across the quote you see above, and how very cool...a quote about roses for a lady wearing them on her head!

She's not what I envisioned or expected when I put her face down. She morphed into other creatures several times, until we both agreed on her appearance. When I look at her, I see the "mistakes" that exist simply because I haven't done this in such a long time.

But, I also see something beautiful, something that makes me happy.

I think maybe she's the guardian of more to come.

Notes: My wonky sweet angel began as an image stamped onto an old map. After I glued her down, I "touched up" her face with water soluble crayons and a Derwent sketching pencil followed by some micron pens. Her wings lived as flower petals in a previous life; her crown and antlers came from magazine clippings of things that appealed to me, cut out long ago. Stencils came into play, layered over so many papers, it would require an archaeological dig to name them all!

Inspiration in the Form of a Rusty Red Car


Assignment: Create a mixed Media Self-Portrait

Reaction: UGH!

And then the universe stepped in: within a week the concept of self portraits showed up three times - the assignment in Lesley Riley's 52 Pick Up class, a friend's visit to the National Portrait Gallery, and another artist showing a book of self portraits as inspiration.

Message received, and I got busy.

This "self-portrait" is a veritable mish mash of all sorts of bits and pieces.

The greenish blue background is a gelli plate print created earlier this summer. I generally have a stash of them, and they never fail to delight me.

The brownish black and brown  background is an Iphone shot of this beauty at Lucketts Market.


I cropped it to this:

Rusty car

I cropped it again, rotated it, and then digitally manipulated it using PhotoLabPro on my Ipad, and this!


Is this not ever so cool? I quite fell in love with it, and came up with several other variations on the theme using the same app.

Now, down to the nitty gritty of it. I needed a photo of me, and I really didn't want to start shooting more selfies, so I grabbed another Iphone image shot in a silly moment last weekend.

I began with this:


then manipulated it with the same app to what you see in the final portrait. I cut myself out and glued it to the brown background.

And then the fun began: white Uniball signo pens, black sharpies, a word sticker,  a rub on of the word "Focus" altered with more white pen, a tiny paper butterfly...well, you get the idea!

I threw a black mat over it to look official, and well, just because I could.

Thank you, rusty red card. You can count on showing up in my artwork again and again and again, sometimes altered beyond belief!



Permission to Do Less


Sometimes, I do myself in; there's just no two ways about it. I create work where there doesn't need to be work.

It's all in the name of being creative, and in some ways, people's expectations. For the last several years, I've participated in Jennifer Belthoff's Love Notes. I do it because I love snail mail, and because I love creating snail mail. I love sending it, and I love receiving it.

In Love Notes, we send 3 postcards over the course of 3 weeks to a partner. Each week comes with a prompt, and for 3 weeks, my mailbox and I smile in delight.

Here's where I make work for myself: I decided my post cards needed to be hand made. No store bought post cards for me, no sir. It began easily enough, 3 postcards, tiny little 4" X 6" works of art. Sometimes, I opted to create note cards, not post cards, but still, easy enough.

And, along the way, it snow balled. Not only did I send my little works of art off to the current partner, but I sent them to past partners as well, as well as some newly made online friends. And, then to my sister, Denise. And then...

Well, I'm up to 20 pieces of art each week. Yikes!

Really, I love it...well, when I'm home to create, I do. This past week found me in Vermont for 6 days. I came home on Tuesday, did my laundry on Wednesday, and packed yesterday and today for a 4 day art retreat.

The stress levels began to climb, climb some more, and well, I may have been on top of Hogback Mountain with my stress. My art room looks like Hurricane Matthew has come and gone, plus which, I needed to be packing the supplies I'd be using.

Even if I worked non stop for this last day and a half, 20 handmade post cards would not be happening.

My pride / ego got a bit bruised; no one would be marveling on line at my creations.

Yet, here's the kicker. I didn't need to be creating 20 pieces of art; that's not what Love Notes is about. It's about connecting with people; it's about bringing happiness to someone once a week for three weeks. It is NOT about my art or my ego.

I've packed my ego away for the time being; 20 beautiful Vermont post cards are going out into the world. 20 gorgeous images of Vermont in the fall, with those wonderful bright reds, oranges, and yellows. 20 post cards with messages written to bring delight.

The best part? I'm okay with this letting go of stress I've put on myself. I'm okay with realizing I can't do this all the time.

There will be post cards going out next week, as time is limited there as well. Probably, I'll do something handmade the last week; I do love the creating and the joy my tiny creations bring.

But, if not, that's okay as well because like I said, it's not about me. It's not about my art.

It's about connecting, and Lord knows, that's something we need in our crazy world.

Bits and Pieces Equal Art

Paying attention to spaces between words

Not too many folks get terribly excited about leftovers, although I confess that I enjoy them. Sometimes, they even seem to taste better the second time around.

And, even better than the kitchen leftovers, are the art leftovers...

  • the paint that I don't want to waste, so it gets brayered onto a blank journal page
  • scraps of papers
  • words cut out of poetry books and magazines
  • bits of washi tape
  • photos I've printed, just waiting for a home

Pages just evolve over time, adding bits and pieces of this and that, mostly whatever happens to be on my studio table because I haven't cleaned it up yet.

I'd love to tell you that my studio gets cleaned each day when I finish, but I'd be lying. And, honestly? The jumble of supplies never fails to inspire. Media and scraps that have no business being together look totally cool.

I love getting my photos off the camera; they might end up on note cards, tacked onto my walls, or on an art page.

I love the play of it all, moving this and that around until my eyes light up.

It's not a steady process; this background languished for a day or two, until it told me what it needed.

A quote about resting in the silence between word caught my attention the other day; it's been floating around in my head ever since.

So, I grabbed a poetry book bought at a huge sale, and begin to search for similar words. And then...gasp!...I cut them out.

Billy Collins, I apologize for this transgression and all future transgressions, because I'll be snipping words again. You can bet on it. My only excuse is that poets use the best words.

I love the words I found; they say so much, as words can.

But, sometimes, you need to listen very closely to what's not being said...the spaces and silences between the words.

If you can manage to still yourself enough to do so, you learn a lot of good stuff. Important stuff.

At least, I do.

Messing with Paint


Various papers, new and vintage, plain and with text. check!

Tubes of acrylics, expensive and not so expensive. check!

Loads of stencils in all kinds of sizes,  check!

Several gelli plates, check!

Time in the studio, check!


It's been awhile since I played like this, and I'm not sure why. Part of the reason, a cranky arm with a frozen shoulder. Another, my studio became the catch all area for anything we didn't know what else to do with, things in transit to Goodwill, and so on. And, frankly, too much stuff is in here, so I began clearing out, creating  a space to actually do, make art. Go figure.

I've got plans for my space; some rearranging to do, clearing out more stuff I'll never use, and more. For now, though, I've got enough  clear area to play.

I love making background papers, just love it. Layer upon layer upon layer of paint, some of it over plain paper, some over old text. I love layers, love text peeking through. I want you to get lost for a bit, seeing what there is to see.

Can you tell I have a tendency toward bright colors? In the end, some of it will get muted. The pages aren't finished; marks will be added.

As I build my collages and journal pages, the best bits, the "sweet spots" will get torn from the larger sheets. Most "finished" pages have at least a few sweet spots, but I'll admit, some hit the trash can when I forgot to think about the color wheel and created mud.

I'll be at this again tomorrow, using deli paper, which layers over other backgrounds and blends in nearly seamlessly.

Vintage text needs to be glued to canvas and paper and then gesso over it to build the first layers.

My hands are covered with paint, but somehow, I managed to keep my clothes paint free, most likely because I thought to wear old clothes.

Okay, off to create more!

Sharing My Soul


I write.

I photograph.

I create art.

Each and everyone of the above feeds my soul.

Each and everyone of the above shares my soul, my life, my everyday moments, and life's big moments.

And, all of them co-exist happily in my journals.

They're everywhere, it seems. Tucked into drawers, waiting by my bedside, and piled in huge Rubber Maid containers.

One or two live in my purse; often there's one in the car. The list of where you might find one goes on and on.

These photos only show the tip of the iceberg.


So many of them....

 - store bought ones

 - hand made ones

 - ones created from old manila folders

 - another created from an old school directory

 - others created from security envelopes, sporting bright covers made from Trix Cereal boxes

 - some made in classes I've taken, covered with hand made paste papers and showing off gorgeous bindings complete with beads


They're fat, sassy, and full of color, although there's a token one that's simply black and white.

Some have been published; others are just for me.


No matter the size, shape, or cost of the materials, they have one thing in common.

I use them.

I use them to:

 - sort out my thoughts

 - record the good, the bad, and the ugly

 - create "To Do" lists

 - experiment with new art materials

 - to glue in bits and pieces of everyday life: ticket stubs, id tags, candy wrappers, banana stickers, business cards


Some pages are mini works of art. Others just sort of exist.

And, most of all, many share my soul.


They're a compilation of me and my life, and they're as necessary to me as the air I breathe.


I took the above photos with my Iphone 5, using the Hipstamatic App. No further editing was done. And, as mentioned above, the journals represent just a small part of the total collection.



Working with What I've Got

White pen leaves

Once upon a time, I thought that creative people just spewed forth ideas...effortlessly, magically, with little to no effort. After all, creativity was their gift, their talent. It just happened.

I know better now. I know that I have to show up, to do the work. Inspiration is not going to come knocking at my door. It will come when I'm knee deep in the process.

"But, I'm tired. I am just so very tired," I  whine.

And, I am. Tired, that is. I've been putting in terribly long days, and I come home wiped. I have no ideas in me. None.

Or, so I think.

And, then, I go back to the quote. I go back to something said in a recent art workshop. I go back to everything I've read and heard these last few weeks.

Everyone has stories to tell.

Everyone has the same 24 hours.

You can do this, I tell myself. You can do this if you're serious.

So, I looked around at  my temporary work space. Just a tiny room, with the ever present computer, intercom, and tiny desk. A few filing cabinets. Some office mailboxes.

There's not even a window; just a doorway to the lobby.

Art supplies? Just a few tucked into a tote bag.

Plenty of space in which to work? No, just a desk already overflowing with the business of the day.

Long stretches of time in which to create? Nope, not that either. Just precious seconds and minutes in between phone calls and buzzers.

I've got every excuse I need to whine about impossible conditions.

But, I want this. I want to write. I want to make art.

Most of all, I want to make this work, this business of being creative.

And, on a run back from the main building, I notice them. Tiny, glorious red leaves scattered everywhere, and on a whim, I grab a few, and I carry the magic inside.

I look at them, and I grin as I reach down into the tote bag, and search out the white Signo Unibal pen.

And, I begin to doodle, right on the leaves.

I doodle tiny, easy patterns, nothing complicated. I doodle as I take various calls. I doodle in front of middle schoolers who come to the office for this and for that. All of us grin at what's in progress.

I am in my own little heaven.

Doodling can be done in quick snatches of time. It needs almost no space. It definitely doesn't need a window to the outside. Instead, I've brought the outside in, and it was all very zen.

And, before I could drop my sorry rear end into bed and get far too comfortable, I sat down to type. It's not polished, this blog entry, and I suspect it will never get polished. Not this entry, anyway.

And, I love my leaves. I love that I created something today.

I love that I made myself sit down to write.

I wonder what tomorrow will bring.




An invisible red thread connects those 
who are destined to meet regardless of time,
place or circumstance. The thread may stretch
or tangle, but it will never break.
Chinese Proverb

The universe gobsmacked me today.

You know - gobsmacked.

As in:

  • amazed
  • surprised
  • astounded
  • dumbfounded
  • shocked
  • stunned
  • astonished
  • blew me away

Yeah, gobsmacked.

I don't remember exactly what I happened to be doing, other than I was typing away on the very keyboard I'm using now, when the Facebook message icon let me know that, well, I had a message.

A good friend wrote that she would be unable to attend The Red Thread Retreat and asked if I would use her seat.

I have lusted after this retreat for years, with either a full time job or finances wagging their finger and firmly stating, "No, no, no." Today was no exception.

So, I messaged her back saying that she was sweet, but that I was truly dead broke.

A bit later, up lit the message icon again. She explained that this was to be a gift, and if I had gas money, she really wanted me to go.

The messages and emails flew back and forth in earnest. I needed to touch base with Phil, who was apparently in one of those "You can not even think you are going to bring your cell phone in here" rooms on base. The retreat founder/leader had to okay it all. Much tapping of toes and wringing of wrists ensued.

And then, somehow, it all came together.

My art supplies are packed, and tomorrow at this time, I will be getting to know a new group of women, taking art classes,iphone photography classes,  and simply being with people the universe feels I should know.

I know that beautiful things are going to be happening, and I know I'm meant to take what I learn and use it.

Thank you, Marianne. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Thank you, universe. You may continue to gobsmack me at any time.



Inner Excavation


The creativity exploration/rejuvenation continues. Blessed with the interwebs and a wealth of free online podcasts and explorations, I'm not lacking for inspiration.

I know. I know. I know.

It's the researcher in me again, the life long student, the explorer.

I also know that it's easy to get lost in the reading and never begin the doing.

I've read Liz Lamoreux's blog for quite a while now, and I've always wished to be on the west coast when one of her retreats comes along. Someday...

I love Liz's down to earth-ness. She's a mama and a self employed artist, a retreat leader, and a firm believer in telling it like it is.

And, she's beyond generous.

Several years ago, she wrote this book. If you click the link, she explains her thoughts behind it.

This week, a free online class began, based on the book. The prompts and tasks are doable and fun.

One task: Build a word bank, something to go to when you're stuck in your writing. Your word bank might take the form of a hand written list, torn out words from the dictionary, collaged words from magazines, words collected from poems. The choice is yours.

On Tuesday, I found myself sitting in the Hair Cuttery, getting the gray covered and highlights put in. It's a lonnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnng process, and I have trouble just sitting.

I had toted Liz's book along to reread Chapter 1, and I found myself using her book to do the word bank task and then writing what you see above.

Not a world masterpiece, but fun. 

And the photo? Ugh...I am not a selfie person by nature. Now, I can manage a shot of my toes, especially after a pedicure. But my face - no! I am far more comfortable behind the camera. 

And, I just feel plain stupid grinning at myself in a mirror.


But, Liz encouraged the selfie, and here it is, complete with filter to fade me into the background a bit.

God bless technology!

Getting Out of My Head


I adore learning; I always have and hopefully, I always will. There's just so much out there I'm interested in, and I know I won't have time to begin to do it all.

I grew up in the 50s and 60s; there was pretty much three main ways of learning back in those "olden days." You read. You listened. You wrote. The words "differentiation" and "learning style" had yet to rear (their sometimes ugly) heads. Being a visual person, overall I was a pretty happy camper in school since most people taught the way I learned.

But I'm shifting, finally figuring out that the "doing" is key. Unless the doing begins, not much happens, at least externally. So, I'm quite literally learning to get out of my own head, and trying to get what's in my darn head out into my art.

The researching of it all, the learning about the topic keeps me happy for hours on end. I buy books; they're underlined, they're written in, they're tabbed with post it notes in all sorts of bright cheerful colors. Because, I like color and lots of it, as if you couldn't tell from the spread above!

I began these pages in a recent class with Kelly Kilmer. We happily went through magazines and newspapers, tearing out what appealed to us. No rhyme. No reason. Just rip out what appeals. Both these images came out of Somerset Studio. After building the backgrounds, I glued down the images.

And then? The images sat. They sat for a week or so, because I didn't yet understand the appeal. I worked on other pages in the meantime, continuing to build backgrounds and to glue even more images down.

I listened to podcasts on creativity as well, and I read and reread The Little Spark by Carrie Bloomston, happily underlining and tabbing pages. See...the learning, the research...yeah, I'm a bit of a nerd that way.

Carrie writes, "There is only one way to achieve the fluency, freedom, and grace of the expert, and that is by doing."

Oh. That fluency I so sadly bemoaned in my last post.

In my head, I knew I needed to get moving, not just happily reading.

And, I began to look at the images...on the left the girl with her pile of "How To" books, and across from her, the woman with the guide map that will tell her just how to do what she's wanting to do. And those words...lost in her longing to understand.

My subconsciousness apparently knows a good deal more than I want to admit.

Sometime, you just need to get out of your own head and DO. Do something. Do anything.

You will...or at least I will...create some pretty ugly crud. But, at times, you will create pretty cool stuff. And, it's only stuff, so I can just toss it, leave it so that I will remember it's okay not to make magnificent art all the time, or I can even paint over it. So many possiblities!

And, at least it will be cool to me, and quite honestly, I've pretty much had it with trying to please every one else. Never could do that. Someone was always ticked off. Always!

I'm journaling with Lisa Sonora's Flow, a free 30 Day Journal Project. The journaling is basic right now; it's not good writing, but I'm getting down some ideas. The pages are pretty only because I'm writing directly over top of images that appeal to me.

I didn't much like the pages created, but I realized after a few days, that they are worth their weight in gold.

They are a whole treasure chest of ideas and bits and pieces waiting to be told in story form. Cool beans!

So -

 - I'm showing up.

 - I'm journaling pretty pages in bits and snatches.

 - I'm journaling some basic pages, ones that have secret treasures to be unearthed later.

 - I'm still enjoying the reading and researching, but I am beginning to get out of my own head.

Lord knows, it gets pretty crowded in there sometimes.