Visual JOurnal Feed

Pattern Play


Julie Fei-Fan Balzer plays with patterns....among so much more! She's one talented lady, and for February, she's created a pattern challenge. You can read about it on her blog.  Julie's creating a pattern for each day of February, and while I know I'm not going to achieve that, she's encouraging everyone to play when they can.

So, yesterday, I grabbed a sheet of painted, stenciled, and splattered text left over from the previous day's explorations to use as my base. No rhyme or reason to it, just using up leftover bits from the day's work.


Using my very expensive...and wouldn't you want to own one as well? tool, I stamped some circles.  This particular tool requires you to let go of perfection and embrace the wabi-sabi look, otherwise known as wonky circles in this case. Now, if I had been smart, I would have stamped, etc. before I glued the text to the page. Ah, well, lesson learned, I hope.


I grabbed some stamps...


...and some colored pencils, and used them both.


Vwah-lah! A pattern is born.

A wonky wonderful pattern that makes me smile.

Go check out Julie's site and check out Instagram as well. It's #28patterns.

Lots of eye candy to be sure!

Cranky Pants in the Snow


Outside my window, huge white snowflakes are drifting toward the grass and sidewalks. It's a beautiful, calming snow, and it's settling me down.

I am thinking that I need to get over my cranky self. As I told my sister, none of what is making me cranky is a huge calamity, not even a small calamity. So, to quote Ms. Taylor Swift, I need to "Shake it off!"

I am thankful for this time to just journal and play with art supplies, to process what I'm feeling, and to not let it get its talons into me. Art play is such good therapy!

From the kitchen, the dishwasher is calling to me, "Come unload me, already!" Then, fill me up and let me do my thing. I wish I could tell you there are delicious smells wafting up to me studio, but, alas, it's peanut butter and jelly time. Although, I think I might brew some tea and add orange infused honey to it.

I am wearing my cleaning clothes - baggy sweat pants and a tshirt. Styling, I'm not.

I am creating tons of journal pages. Getting back into the flow of it has been tricky and has progressed in fits and starts. I'm rusty for sure, but I'm still loving it.

I am going to art classes with Seth Apter this weekend...the first on my birthday. Not a bad present, huh?

I am reading The Magic Art of Tidying Up. The author is fairly preachy, and she's absolutely sure hers is the only way to declutter, a bit off putting. But, I'm plowing through and taking what I can use. The house is slowly getting there, and space is opening up, which I love.

I am hoping to get back into the rhythm of blogging as freshen up the blog and to publish it more often. I've written tons of posts in my mind, but I haven't put the keyboard to work.

I am hearing the clickety clack of the keys as I type and the sounds of muted traffic.

Around the house, things wait to be sorted and put away. The dryer just buzzed, wanting me to go rescue the load of jeans.

One of my favorite things is dark chocolate, and I think I have some stashed away...with sea salt no less!

A few plans for this week - subbing tomorrow and art classes over the weekend.

IKEA Catalog Wisdom

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The rain is tumbling down, the skies are gray, and I'm sitting here clipping words and images from magazines before they hit the recycle bin. These bit and pieces will find their way into journals, collages, and the like. An old Ikea catalog sits front and center on the stack of soon to be tossed periodicals, a catalog used mainly for backdrop for gluing purposes.

And, as the pile of snipped bits grew larger, it hit me that there seemed to be quite a bit of life wisdom here hiding in the advertising come on, you need this, pile of words. Just take a minute and study the photo...

All of it seems good advice to me; each bit could spark a blog post of its own, and I suspect they just might do so in the future.

But, it's rainy, and I'm feeling utterly lazy, so I'll pick just one.

Inspiration can strike at any time.

Yup - even in the pages of an old IKEA catalog.

P.S. I am working on the cluttering bit by the way. Goodwill and I are excellent friends, seeing each other frequently.




Why do I journal? For that matter, why does anyone journal?

Reasons vary, and I suspect there exists as many reasons as there are types of journals.

For me? It's to remember moments in time, good or bad. Sometimes, it's to make sense of moments I'd rather forget. Somehow, when I write, I tend to be more honest with myself. The putting it into written form gives weight to the words, and if I get uneasy in my gut I know that I'm trying to rationalize or to delude myself. If it's too private for anyone but me, I can - and do - cover up the words. I still know they're there; I know the essence of what I wrote, if not the exact words.

As I type this, I realize I know far more stories about my dad's growing up and growing up than I do of my mother. And, really, I don't know many about my dad. My parents didn't tend to talk about that sort of thing; I think that maybe they just simply got caught up in the making of a living, the raising of 4 children. The everyday stuff never seemed to be anything worth recording, but that's what I miss knowing. The record exists of the big moments, the weddings, deaths, births, and so on, but not much of the little moments of their lives, of what they were thinking or enjoying.

My dad tells so many stories now, but they are garbled bits and pieces of things, fact mixed in with fiction. His dementia robs him of making much sense. The bits that come through tantilize us, but, most likely, they're lost.

So, part of what I do is to put it all down, to preserve the memories for my kids and grands. Maybe it won't matter much to them in the long run, and maybe it will.

I finished the piece above yesterday; the words at first glance don't speak of anything significant, but then again...well, maybe they do. They record memories which otherwise might be lost forever. I'd like to think that at some point in time, someone will sit down and get lost in my journals. Who knows?

Note: The journal pages above are a mish mash of things, or as the ever present crossword clue would say, an "olio" of things. I enlarged a photo of the pumpkin patch trip, and then went over it with Neocolor II crayons, blending it into the background. And the background is in itself another olio of materials from the studio desk, most of it underpapers, the papers that catch (well, mostly catch!) the spills of paints and inks. Pulling it all together reminds me of doing jigsaw puzzles; you think a piece is going to work, and then it doesn't. So, you try another piece until you get one that works. And, so it goes with all the scraps and pieces littering the table.

We're off tomorrow to Bedlam Farm  in New York, to meet Jon Katz, Maria Wulf, and other online friends; to visit Simon, the donkey, and Red, the dog...among others!

Mothers are the Glue

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This page waits patiently for my thoughts; I began it a year ago and pull it out now and then, thinking, "What should I write?" Because, you see, the words are as important to me as the art. I guess I don't want to "mess it up," since I really like where the page is going so far.

Layers of paint, some text, printing with bits and pieces of things.

Tearing, gluing, creating texture, and all the while my eyes fly to my mother's face.

I pulled this out this morning to capture it with my camera. Mothers have been much on my mind lately, as I pray for an online friend and a mother she loves dearly.

We take them for granted, believing in our hearts - when our brain knows better - that they'll always be here to answer a question, to give advice, to hold us when we need holding.

Mothers are the glue, I think, that holds us together, and when we lose them, we lose a huge chunk of ourselves. At least, I did.

My eyes keep revisiting her eyes. I wonder what she'd tell me about this photo. Most likely, she'd keep it short and sweet...oh, you were about x months here. My mom would most likely not have told me her dreams from that time in her life, what she hoped would happen. Probably, if pushed, she'd simply have said, " I just wanted to be a good mother."

I wish I had poked at her more, finding out what she was like as a woman. Not just my mother, but Annie. Annie who loved to dance. Annie who wanted to be respected and thought well of. Annie, who when she married, really didn't know how to cook. Annie, one of 14, who didn't marry until she was 25 or so, unheard of or maybe thought little of in that time and age.

Annie, who desparately wanted children of her own, and nearly lost her first, me. Doctors advised a D and C, but she refused. This was not often given advice back in the 1950s, so, most likely, the doctors may have well thought both of us were in trouble.

Annie hung on and so did I. But, what thoughts went through her head?

If I could go back in time, I know I'd tell her I loved her, that she was a good mom. But, I'd also ask more questions.

What else did you want from life? Did you even know? For whom did you vote, or did you not vote at all?

How did you make perogie? Teach me, and don't tell me to go buy Mrs. T's!

How did you feel as you cared for your dying mother? I was far too wrapped up in my own world, not realizing she was steadily losing weight as she tried to care for her cancer ridden mother and be there, at the same time, for her own husband and 4 children. I'd like to think I'd have stepped in more to help.

So, I'm still not sure where this page will go. Will it be a letter filled with questions for her? Will it be a collection of memories?

The page will wait patiently and will be here when I'm ready.

Note: The photo is a TAP transfer done on old text. I scanned the image, resized it, and transferred it onto a vintage text page. Be sure to visit Lesley Riley's blog for a chance to win a copy of her newest book, Creative Image Transfer. I'm delighted to have my art in it!


Journal Play

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I love art journaling - playing with paint, textures, and words, so I'm not really sure why/how I lost the habit. I began to play again this summer, a bit in June, and then again, these past several days.

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It feels good to be back at this, and my goal is to do it at least several times a week, and hopefully, a bit each day, knowing that on some days, it will be just bits and pieces and not a whole spread.

July 2013 001
I have such a stash of supplies, there's little or no need to get more; not that I'm tempted. New goodies just make me grin! I'm also trying to use my own imagery as much as I can, and I'd love to start sketching in these. Have to admit, that scares me.

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Look at these straight rows of words, just marching across the page. It's the Catholic school girl/teacher in me, and it's very hard to shake. I love pages with random scribbling, but they elude me for the most part. 

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I'd love to have photographed these outside, but the heat indexes have been between 100 and 110 degrees. OUCH! So, I'm inside and giving thanks for the ac.

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

Enter the Cranky Birds

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In early October, I quite admired these fine fellows but pretty much figured that they weren't going to happen, at least not in my journals. You see, I knew that if I tried to purposely create a blob which then would magically morph into a cranky bird, I'd tie myself up into knots of pure frustration. Why? Because I'd be thinking way to much about how to control that blog and to make sure it could become a bird, cranky or not.

So, I put those cranky birds out of mind, or so thought. Turns out, they thought otherwise.

Hurricane Sandy, for all the destruction up and down the East Coast that she caused, gave me the gift of time. I happily puttered away in the studio, playing with watercolors and building backgrounds in a journal. Just play, looking to see what might happen, and heat gun blasting away to dry the page, I spotted him, my cranky bird.

Back to Carla's blog I went, and followed the instructions of Carla's guest blogger, Dar Hosta, and began to work on my bird. One wing is definitely wonky, but I love him, none the less.

In her post, Dar explained that cranky birds always have something to say, and mine was definitely telling me that if I wanted this art career to happen, I needed to get cracking and put in the time. I haven't been, and it's my fault, plain and simple.

I could explain to you all that I have had to do, and it's a lot...just a lot of administrative work, meetings, conferences, lesson plans and so on.

Yeah, I need to unwind, but I don't need to fall into hours of random wandering through blogs...and I do mean very random, just following link after link after link...and end up doing nothing of my own. Too many ideas bouncing in my head and never making their appearance via camera or journal page. Pretty stupid, 'cause I know better.

So, this post is a promise to myself to get moving, to make it happen, I know it's possible because this happened. Time to stop dreaming and make it start happening!


Made a quick little journal the other day...some preripped watercolor papers, which I had used to scrape and layer on leftover acrylics and inks.

I piled on some more color with Faber Castell gelatos, figuring out just how far I could push them.

The butterfly came courtesy of a fingerpainting session with Dom, as did the circles floating on the page.

I stamped the flowers and happily colored away with various pens in my stash, piled on some more gelatos, and blended it all in.

More stamping - words this time, liking the look of the differently sized letters.

And, in case you're wondering about those snakes...I had a bizarre but vivid dream about a snake in my father's back room this summer. For the life of me, I couldn't figure out the snake bit, especially since I barely tolerate the creatures, and this snake sported a very grumpy and very human face.

Curiousity got to me, so I googled the meaning of snakes in dreams, and honestly, that snake was an excellent fit. Turns out he symbolizes transformation, particularly a change that you don't want to be making. I had the dream shortly after we sold my dad's home.

Yeah, it fit, but butterflies also symbolize transformation, and if it's all the same to you, I'd rather have butterflies in my dreams than grumpy old snakes.