Visual JOurnal 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!

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.

Of Coffee Pots and Journaling


I'm sitting here in my art studio, sipping the last cup of coffee from this morning's pot, savoring it, and just thinking about creativity's ebb and flows.

It's a battered old thing, this pot. Near as I can figure, with a bit of help from Google and Etsy, it's going on 60 some years old. Nearly as old as I am, and both of us dinged up a bit, but still going strong.

Some years ago, as we packed up Dad's home, I rescued this poor baby from the pots and pans' cupboard, beneath the built in stove. I hadn't seen it used in years; Mom, then Dad had moved onto its more modern relatives, but being the Depression babies that they were, had hung onto it, "just in case."

I carried it home to Virginia, not really thinking I'd being making coffee from up, and for a long time, it just sat in my kitchen, making me smile with the memories of the past.

Just for grins and giggles, as he says, Phil decided to experiment with it one day, and it's been pressed into service ever since. If we're not in a hurry, it's put to work. There's something about watching the brown liquid begin to perk and bubble with a sound all its own. A rich aroma works its way through the kitchen and up the stairs, telling me as one of the grands puts it, that it's sunny time.

Maybe it's my imagination, but the coffee is richer and deeper somehow, and if I'm not careful the first sip or two can scald my tongue.

I've been in some sort of creative funk lately. It's not that I don't have ideas; I do, and there are lots of them. But my energy went missing, and other than perusing the net, and getting lost in its rabbit holes, I've simply been reading the kinds of books that don't make you think, or playing Suduku and Solitare.

Yesterday, I decided that enough was enough, and I pushed myself to pick up the paintbrush, acknowledge the crankies, and just get started, not putting any great importance on the outcome.


I've never been a believer of making my journals just pretty images, of somehow sending out the message that everything is just hunky dory. And, I figured that maybe if I acknowledged it...not bemoaning or wailing about it...just simple acknowledgement, that I could move past this bit.

I can't really describe just how good and right it felt to play with the paint colors, images from magazines, and to just cut and glue. Therapy, indeed.

I had to laugh when I found the image of the girl; she's just so perfect. If I had gone looking for her, she never would have appeared. I just started putting down marks, paint, etc. letting the page become what it needed to be. I altered the cut out images, making them more my own. I didn't fret about wonky letters. I just kept going, and the more I did, the better I felt.

To, make a bad pun, more than the coffee is perking. Ideas are stirring, stories asking to be written, a photography class to be planned.

Sometimes, I just need to begin. The rest usually follows.

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.



Summer Nights

Love you

Picture 2 skinny, knobby kneed, pony tailed girls, giggling in evening's hot summer air.

The town's oldsters referred to it as "Cabbage Hill," an area settled by the Polish community...and we lived at the very bottom of a dead end street in a one red light town.

We roamed almost anywhere,  cheerfully promising to be home before dark, knowing more magic waited.

 We played underneath tall cherry trees, limbs heavy with their fruit, waging battle  with the scolding blue jays to see just who would get the cherries first. We gorged on wild raspberry bushes marking the boundary between our yard and the woods. Mulberries stained our hands and our clothes, much to Mom's dismay.

Bunnies nibbling on clover refused to be caught, but snapping turtles proved much easier to stalk...but always, always with a healthy respect for their powerful jaws.

Dandelions and buttercups covered a yard meant for children, not for display. Our voices echoed in the still night, "He loves me; he loves me not; he loves me...:

I don't think we ever had any particular love in mind; we simply picked off the petals, delighting in the rhythm of the words.

Evening brought the real flies everywhere. Each of us clutching a jar, capped with a lid bearing "air holes," we ran everywhere, clutching glowing bits of magic. We wore them on our fingers, the finest "engagement" rings to be found anywhere!

Mom 's voice eventually beckoned us inside, urging us to let our magical friends fly free. Sometimes, we could convince her to let us keep them overnight, making sure to include some grass in the jars, thinking it a fine feast, indeed.

And, so we fell asleep, watching the tiny glowing insects in jars kept close by.

Magic, indeed.



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.

Figuring It Out


So, about a year ago, I retired from the world of teaching middle schoolers, and oh, I figured that I was going to produce the most amazing art. This art would fill my days. All the thoughts/ideas/concepts floating through my head would come forth and multiply, much like the loaves and fish.

Nope. Didn't happen.

Yes, some art got made; key word is "SOME." Not what should have been happening.

Instead, I decompressed. I finally figured it out a while back. I needed time of my own, time to just chill. Time to do nothing. Time to enjoy not being driven by the clock, because if you teach, you are driven by the clock. Time to instruct, time to get the paperwork done. Time...there's never enough of it. Never.

So, I chilled. I read books. I completed way too many Suduku puzzles. I read some more. I photographed all sorts of things, but I rarely edited them.

And, sometimes, I did a whole lot of nothing!

So, now, I've basically had a year, a school year anyway. I've had down time, and I know there's more if I need it.

These past few weeks, I've been immersed in podcasts on creativity; I've listened, and I've taken notes.

Tons of notes from artists willing to share their thoughts on creativity, and you can find them over here on Bebe's "The Painted Guru."

Each artist's podcast is up for two days, but at the end of it all, Bebe is putting links back up to all of them. The link above takes you to Jane Cunningham, but if you clickey click the banner, you can sign up for future podcasts. It's free, so you really can't lose.

I've got tons to think about, and as varied as the guest artists and creatives are, common threads emerge.

Here's what keeps hammering away at me: I'VE GOT TO SHOW UP. I've got to put in the time and the work. I need to realize the art won't always be a finished project, and it sometimes will look like crud. And, I have to learn to be okay with this.

Now, I've known this for some time, at least theoretically. But, like so many, I just figured that with all my newly found free time, this art would just magically flow out of my hands, and not only would it just happen, it would be amazing art.

Nope. Not going to happen. Because like any one who is good at what they do, practice is involved. You acquire the skills. You hone them. And, if you don't use them, they disappear.

Some days, you're off your game. You show up anyway.

Some days, you're sorely lacking for inspirations. You show up anyway.

Some days, you just don't want to "go to work." You show up anyway.

So, I'm figuring out my rhythm here, but that's another story for another day.

I need to honor my own time to create.

I just need to show up.

Note: the girl in the collaged journal page above is not mine; I cut her out of a Somerset Studio magazine, and I can't find the artist's name. The rest is mine!


Bits and Pieces


Bits and Pieces make the best art; they really do.

There's no hoped for outcome, other than just hoping something a bit magical happens, and it almost always does.

Scraps on the art table, scraps on the art floor. Leftover play from painting with the paper + cheap paint still equals magic.

I'm just playing, moving scraps here and there, sometimes covering up the entire page, sometimes leaving space for writing. It's a rare page that doesn't have some writing on it. I seem to have a lot to say. I always did!


More bits and pieces...squares punched from art magazines. (All that gorgeous color and pattern and besides, those magazines aren't cheap!) A leftover practice stamp on ledger paper, one of those "Let's see what happens." moments. Some paint smeared to pull it together and then a bit of doodling, just because.


This page just pops, doesn't it? The background began in one of Seth Apter's perfectly awesome classes.  Leftover paint, stencil prints made to clean off excess paint, add some more stencils, doodle a bit, add a pop of white here and there...sheer absolute fun. The page began in Seth's class, and I added to it over these past several weeks with no direction in mind. Just play. Just tons of fun. The bird image comes from an old issue of "Flow" magazine, and somehow fit perfectly. I cut the grass from the same magazine, but ended up liking the backside more, so that's what you see here.

And, now, I'm off to do a bit of collage on my deck of cards, a perfect afternoon activity for a somewhat rainy Friday afternoon.

The Light Givers

Light stealers

A few days ago, I was reading Sara Torbett's wonderful blog, The Rosy Life, and something she wrote has stayed with me.  In face, I'd been thinking about it for the last week or so, as I pondered why not much seemed to be getting done. Sara wrote about the light-stealers vs. the light givers.

Light stealers are those things that we find ourselves doing over and over again, things that are not bad in and of themselves, but that leave us feeling discontented somehow. It might be mindlessly surfing the net or playing endless games of solitare. When we're (I'm) done, I wonder where in God's name, the time has gone...and now I don't have time to do x, y, or z. And, that x, y, or z would have left me feeling a lot better, maybe even somewhat accomplished. Those things are the light givers, and they might be as simple as sitting down with a glass of wine and chatting with my husband, working in my journal, taking the time to write a hand written note to someone, not just shoot off an email. Light givers are different for each of us, I think.

Now, retirement is a funny thing. Seemingly, all the time in the world stretches before you, an never ending opportunity to get things done. But, for me, that very seemingly unending amount of time can, and sometimes does, work against me. I mean, there's always this afternoon, or tomorrow, or the next day, right? But, pretty soon, days and days have flown by, and I've created a ton of art, but only in my head. I've written lovely notes to all sorts of people, but again, in my head. And, I'm left discontented, out of sorts, even cranky.  Quite honestly, I'm left feeling disappointed with myself.

Someone this past summer pointed out to me that for most of my life I've been tied to a routine, a schedule, and that retirement might find me floundering a bit and that my getting to figuring it all out could be quite amusing to those who know me. There are days when I crank out the art, declutter a bit of the house, make a wonderful dinner, etc. And, then there are days where I simply don't do much of anything. Honestly, we all need the days of doing nothing, where we might scroll through Facebook or play Solitare for hours on end, but some balance is needed. At least, I need it. Key words? Self discipline. I need to put the goals lazily residing in my head onto paper. I need some sort of plan as to what I really want to get done. Yeah, I need some self discipline.

And, I need to do away, or at least lessen, some of the light stealers and build in some more light givers. It's going to be a slow process with many baby steps, I'm thinking. That's okay because I'm fooling myself if I think otherwise, but I also think, that just maybe I'm on my way finally. Here's hoping!

P.S. The journal page above evolved slowly over several days. It started with scraps of paper to use up some left over paint from another project. Different bits and pieces found their way to the page...and well, it just went from there.



Listening to the sound of the furnace, cycling off and on, more on that off, as it works against the bitter cold outside.

Eating Chinese food: shrimp and fried rice. It feels good to be starting to eat "real" food again, as I get used to these new teeth!

Drinking a glass of wine as I watch Downton Abbey with Phil, tea and coffee during the day.

Wearing a comfortable pair of black sweats with an old gray tie dyed sweat shirt,along with thick fuzzy socks as needed.


Feeling a bit blue that we weren't able to head to the beach today; Mother Nature conspiring to send our first sizable snowstorm last night. Looking forward to heading out tomorrow though.

Sunny weather, but bitterly cold; snow covered branches today against a crisp blue sky. I'm content to be holed up inside reading part of the stash from McKay's Used Books.

Wanting to be watching the waves ebb and flow...tomorrow this time, God willing, I'll be in Bethany Beach.

Needing some couple time with Phil, just to relax, talk, and dream, or simply snuggle up together and read.

Thinking of all the places we might go wandering - Lewes, Berlin, Rehoboth, me with my camera tucked in my hands. Also thinking that I'll get to try some of the new iphone camera tricks I've been learning! Can't wait to try a few night shots, if I can manage the cold that is.

Journal pg

Enjoying time in my studio, creating this journal page out of the "throwaways" on my art table...using up left over paint, and creating something from nothing. No plan, just pure play, seeing what happens.

Enjoying continuing to work on my collaged art deck, fitting random bits and pieces together.