Single Signature Journal

Front and back photo of the single signature journal mentioned yesterday. I wanted something simple and small to carry around with me on a daily basis, for doodling and such. Cover is a collage of hand painted found papers, using various acrylics, inks, hand-carved and purchased rubber stamps. Edges are lined with embellished aluminum tape from the hardware store. The inside pages are 140 lb watercolor paper.

Daily Devotions

I have a few minutes to write before Chris comes home from the store and we start our Friday night crash, so I thought I’d blog. I’m experimenting with the idea that I might actually be able to commit to blogging every day, even if it is just a little bit. I guess I’m having a hard time convincing myself that anyone would find my blabbering at all interesting, but I suppose those people would probably be off doing different things anyway, so what does it hurt?

Actually, there are several things that I’ve recently decided to do daily, or weekly – read a certain book I’m working through, do some housecleaning/organizing, journal, stick to my diet plan, etc. Today, I spontaneously joined the Daily Devotions 365 yahoo group, a collection of creative types that have committed to do art every day, whether it be for 5 minutes or all day, just a doodle on a receipt or a mixed media painting. I set myself several art-related goals for 2006, many of which involve completing works of art by certain times for certain things. I realized this week that in order to attain this goal, I’ve really got to get my art muscles in use again, or it will be like deciding to run a marathon without ever having run before. Sure failure! I need to do a little art every day to keep those creative juice flowing. Wednesday night I quickly whipped up a single signature daily journal and packed up a small box of art supplies, and they now go with me everywhere for impromptu art whenever and wherever. Just today during my lunch break I scribbled some watercolor crayon down on a page, and the day before I doodled a funky flower during an evening meeting.

Totally off topic, I think we’ve had just about every kind of weather today. It was cloudy this morning, then the sun broke out. By the afternoon it was raining, then the skies performed some rendition of snow/hail, and now there is thunder and lightening. What’s next?

Art Journaling on a Deserted Island

This week in my artistsjournals Yahoo! group, someone asked a couple of good questions: "If you were on a deserted island what journaling supplies would you have to have with you? Now could you answer this question with limiting yourself to just three items? How different do you think your journals would be if you didn’t have the outside contact and eye candy available to you?"

Assuming the journal itself is a given, my three favorite things would be a black drawing pen, like Pitt or Micron, a nice watercolor palette, and a set of prismacolor colored pencils. I would hope I also had a way of sharpening the pencils and a brush to paint with, so I suppose that’s five things instead of three, but those three mediums – watercolors, pen, and colored pencil – would make me happy on a deserted island.

I think most things in my life would be completely different if I wasn’t around other people to compare myself to and find new and creative ways to criticize myself and seem unworthy to do art. Actually, I did grow up in the middle of nowhere, and while there, I don’t ever remember having a problem sitting down to do art, deciding what to do, and knowing exactly what I had the ability to do. It was when I moved to the city that I started second-guessing myself. Not like it was the city’s fault, or that the city makes me feel insecure, but it can be both very encouraging and intimidating to be surrounded by so many talented and diverse people.

One thing about being in the middle of nowhere is that its just you and nature all around you, and you just don’t pay so much attention to what everyone else is doing – you just marvel at creation and digging your hands into the stuff of life, quite literally sometimes. Plus, you get to walk out of the shower in the morning, wrap your towel around you, and walk out accross the lawn to the street to get your mail if you wanted to, because no one is there to see you or care except for the trees and birds. How can you do thinks like that and NOT have great things to write and art about?! 🙂

So, without anyone to compare myself to, without deadlines to pressure me or hubbub of the world to complicate life, I’d like to think I’d do my best work. Hmmm….are there any available deserted islands anywhere????

Art, Ideas, & First Loves

I was reading over an old issue of Somerset Studio today during my lunch break at work. There’s really just something about those back issues that I love – they tend to have some really great articles that refer me back to more formal mixed media art, some that is much simpler, clean, less busy. This particular issue got me thinking of my first loves that I haven’t tapped into in quite a while, I guess because I’ve been too busy trying to be what everyone else is being. I love to read the wisdom and insight shared by the artists in these articles – they have truly thought things through, learned and grown. I was humbled by the artists in this issue, as I realized that I simply do not take the time to stretch and challenge myself anymore, because it won’t create things fast enough for me to feel like I’ve been successfully productive. I am tantalized by my first loves of colored pencil, handmade papers, simple sculptures of wood, paper, and light, oil paintings, and detail drawings. It has been too long since I’ve shared a project with them, and I miss it.

I definitely think way too hard about all the wrong things. Again, I don’t seem to stop long enough to allow myself to formulate my thoughts. I can never think of the right words for what I am trying to express, and I work way too hard to force meaning into what I’m doing. The meaning should be the starting point driving the project, not something I force feed in later. What can I introduce into my life to exercise these muscles again? Some of these things I may have already recently started, things I prayerfully chose to pursue or refrain from during the Lenten season – delving into those things that remind me of who I am and make me feel the most me. Slowing down, in general, would be good.

I wish I could take time to do art and journal every day. How do I focus without becoming legalistic with myself? I blossomed while at school, always did so well in each assignment, testing the limits and boundaries of each project given to us, finding ways to make the ideas mine. I think the main point here is that the original idea really wasn’t mine, so the scope was automatically narrowed down to considerably and I did not become overwhelmed by all the possibilities. It’s not like I can’t think of my own ideas, its that I can’t seem to manager them. Too bad they don’t teach us in school how handle our ideas ourselves, running with them instead of being run over by them. Can anyone relate to this?

Anyway, just some thoughts, stuff running through my brain this week. I’m feeling a big motivated to whip out that art journal again…

Updated Website

I have finally updated my website! I have learned how to take my own digital photos, move them from the camera to the computer, clean them up in photoshop and make them web ready, and get them up on my site. How wonderful it is to be (mostly) self sufficient! Maybe I can keep my website updated more often now.

I’ve added 4 new albums and about 20 new photos, some of which are long overdue. First, I created an album for Christmas, so you can see what I was up to over the holiday season. I also now have a folder for swaps and Artfest 2005 and put in some photos of the 2 swaps I’ve done as well as some pictures of my Artfest projects. Finally, I created a separate album for Altered Art. So far, I’ve got an altered bingo card I did over New Year’s weekend, as well as the project I started for my husband’s and my 3rd wedding anniversary in 2005. I altered a box of Russel Stover chocolates that he gave me for Valentine’s Day and cut 3 pages to fit inside that will fold out as an accordian book. I don’t yet know what I’ll put on the pages, so they just have a base coat of color so far, but the top of the box it totally finished. I will work on it each year around our anniversary until it seems done.

That’s it for now – I’ve been pretty busy on stuff for the last couple of weeks, I’ll add more photos and updates soon. Hope everyone is enjoying their new year!

Holiday plans and traditions so far

My holiday plans aren’t really coming along yet, but they will be soon. We’ve been really busy at the store – lots of hustle and bustle during Christmastime! The place is so decked out with trees, lights, snowmen, Santas, holly, and hot cider, it feels like our home is already decorated, even though it’s just the store. There’s also been a lot going on with me personally/emotionally lately, so I’ve spent a lot of time at home after work just doing really monotonous but extremelytherapeutic things such as cutting words and images out of magazines to build up a stash. This means I’m probably not going to get as much done for Christmas as I wanted, or at least at the time I wanted to, but I don’t think I really mind right now.

Last night I spent an hour sitting on my couch listening to Christmas music turning those calendar pages into envelopes. I’ve been dealing with some heavy sadness for the last couple of weeks, and I have to say that particular art therapy was one of the most relaxing things I’ve done in a long time. Many of the calendars were pictures of Seattle, which I thought would makegreat RAK or Swap-return envelopes, since I live in Seattle.

We don’t have our tree quite yet, but we’re hoping to get one this weekend. We found a farm we really liked (I grew up on a tree farm, so I’m picky) last year, so we’re going back. We got what I think was a blue spruce variety (or maybe a noble?), and that darn tree was still perfectly greenand supple in February. I didn’t have the heart to throw it out when it still seemed so much alive, so we finally resorted to starving it to death and quit watering it, but even then it still took several more weeks to die. Ha! So we’re going back there again.

As far as traditions we do for Christmas, that remains to be seen. It has been hard for me to get into Christmas since I was married, because I always associated the season with things related to being in my childhood home with my family, so when I didn’t have that it didn’t feel like Christmas. So, for the last couple years we’ve been working on the transition of building our own traditions and associations, and this is the first year since we got married that I’ve really started feeling that warm fuzzy Christmas feeling. Thank God (literally)! I missed that feeling….

I did write a list of the things I’d like to do this month leading up to Christmas – some may seem silly, but here are some of them: go to a Christmas play, walk around Wights and gaze at all the eye candy (this nursery in Lynnwood, WA with a huge gift shop that is totally Christmasland), read Little Women (an annual favorite), make Christmas ATCs to hang as ornaments in our tree, make homemade hot chocolate with peppermint whipping cream, make English toffee, send out a Christmas letter (we haven’t done this yet!), attend all the candlelight advent services at church, clean my apartment so I don’t’ spend my entire vacation cleaning and organizing, and taste my first roasted chestnut.

What have I been doing in my journals lately?

What have I been up to with my journals lately? Recently, I worked in an art journal that I called my Fall Journal. Really, it was just play time in celebration of Fall, though I actually did very little writing in it. My plan is to do a mix of collages, journal writing, copied poetry and quotes, pressed leaves, even yummy autumn recipes in it. Whatever is celebratory of that season goes in the book, is just my way of experiencing my favorite time of year in another wonderful way. Like the Lent Journal, I’ve worked all over the place in it, rarely finishing a page in one sitting. Now that fall is over, I haven’t used it very much.

Also, I’m currently reading The Artist’s Way, which involves writing three pages of non-stop "stream of consciousness" writing each morning. This is basically all of the journal writing I’ve been doing for a while now. I do that in a plain boring notebook, and I hardly ever do it in the morning. In fact, I hardly ever do anything in the morning besides roll out of bed and rush to work, making sure my teeth are brushed and my socks are matched. My journaling ends up being late at night. I really would love to do some in the morning, as I think it would better prepare me for the day, but I just can’t seem to get out of bed that extra half hour earlier.

Finally, I just recently started altering one of my old date books. Since 1999 I’ve used a really nice leather-bound date book to keep track of my life, and I couldn’t ever bring myself to throw them away. Lately I’ve been feeling very depressed (for no reason really, our life is really great right now – I think its my serotonin acting up again in my brain), feeling the kind of emotions you can’t put into words, so I took down that first old date book and I’ve been altering one spread each night. So far I haven’t written much, I’ve just been giving myself some good art therapy cutting words and pictures I like out of magazines (I treated myself to cutting up a really GOOD new magazine! It felt so deliciously naughty!), painting and gluing onto the spread, and doodling. I think the theme of the book is going to be "do whatever the hell I want." (Sorry, it is unlike me to say such things, however it perfectly sums up the theme of the book). When I get like this I feel like I’m losing myself, and I over-analyze everything and start to feel like I’m going completely crazy, so being able to do whatever I want in this book really feels good and freeing. I’m giving myself permission to draw badly, say stupid things, be sappy, be angry, use colors that look terrible together – basically completely letting my hair down and not trying to impress anyone. With this particular book, so far, I’m veering away from my usual work-all-over-the-book and instead am sticking to one page or spread per day and leaving it at that.

That’s about it right now! I will work next on getting some of these photos online – still not sure how to get the pictures from the digital camera to the computer….

Welcome to the world, Baby Girl!


Early this morning (Wednesday, August 10), two of our dearest friends welcomed into the world their first child, a sweet little girl. She weighed 8 lb 4.6oz and measured 19 inches. Although born by emergency c-section, baby (as well as mom) is both doing very well.

We had the pleasure and the privilege to spend the first couple hours of labor with our friends late Tuesday night. Since we live closer to the hospital than they do, they came to wait out their early hours of labor at our place in case things progressed much faster than anticipated, as I believe is common among the women in the expectant mom's family. We have a quiet little courtyard nestled in the middle of our apartment complex – a pleasant little garden area in the middle of the bustling city, where we walked around and around the walkway, pausing only for brief contractions before proceeding down the path again and continuing our pleasant yet randomly funny conversation. It could have been any other normal night of laughter, stories, and memories shared in each others' company, except for the tension of excitement that I think we were all feeling.

By about 11:30 pm they were ready to move on to the hospital, so I enjoyed one last affectionate pat on the baby belly before we wished them well and settled down to a restless night of waiting for the call that would announce the new baby's arrival. It was very special for me to be able to enjoy that time with my friend during such a poignant moment in our lives. We were able to visit them that evening and hold E. She is so beautiful!  Another dear friend was there with her first baby girl, born just 5 months ago. So far we have all been through college, dating, first jobs, and marriage together, and now we are moving on to the wonderful new adventure of parenthood.  My friends say that Chris and I have to have twin boys so their girls can marry them and we'd all be family officially. Not sure THAT will be happening, but it is a nice idea. 🙂

Check out our friends' brand new website for a few photos:

Until next time, I am basking in the glow of babydom by proxy…..

P.S. Photo is of E at a couple months old, not newborn – I didn't know how to post photos until now. 🙂


Technique on 3rd spread of Lent journal

Somebody from a Yahoo group I am in asked me the other day what I did on the 3rd spread of my Lent journal and wanted a little info on how I did my journals, and I thought I would add my response to my blog, in case anyone else is interested…

"I’m more than happy to share my techniques on my journal pages with anyone that is interested, it’s just a matter of remember what the heck I did!

This journal was my first real art journal, and I jumped all over in it as opposed to filling up one page before moving on to the next. Since it was my first and I was intimidated, I wanted to be as loose andflexible as possible, so then it was fun not nerve wracking. That is why so many pages on my site are unfinished, although I need to update as many are much fuller now. Anyway, I did a ton of different things on the 3rd spread, so unfortunately the explanation will probably be long, but people can skip over the parts they find boring. 🙂

The left side of the spread is a mix of acrylics and watercolor (think orange and quinacridone magenta) – what I usually do is get the whole page of watercolor paper wet, then brush and drip on watercolor paint and liquid acrylic I have leftover in my pan from doing something else and let the water do all the work spreading it around. The big smear of orange was a bit of leftover tube acrylic spread on with a palette knife (if I have leftover paint I don’t know what to do with, it gets smeared in my journal :)). The little squares with the face, dress, and teacup were drawn in first and painted around when I did the background – I used a black micron pen, then pale watercolors that had dried up in my dish. I was in a very feminine, hip sort of girly shopping mood, but since I almost never shop, I just painted it out.

I wrote the little musing in watercolor pencil, first in light green, then in dark green cuz it was hard to see. I was in Starbucks at the time and saw something that amused me, and so I wrote it down. People really amuse me – not in a making fun of them sort of way, but in a way that notices and appreciates how different God made everyone – I likethe unique quirkiness of people, when some interesting part of their personality comes out. I enjoy people’s individuality, it helps me to understand and appreciate people better, to have a sense of humor, and to not take myself so darn seriously.

The right side I am blanking on – I think it was another wash of water with sap green liquid acrylic, pink, orange and yellow watercolor, then I did a light wash of gold lumiere on top of it. To do the painting of the girl, I cut a page out of a hardback novel and drew on the girl in using a black micron pen. Next, I scrubbed on some gesso all around the girl to block out most of the writing. All the color you see was using prismacolor nupastels, which are like chalk pastels but a bit denser and more vibrant. The flower was cut out of a wedding magazine. Then I glued the page in the book. I’ve been using the rest of the page for random things like a shopping list, when I needed something to writedown my friend’s new address, etc.

Hope this helps! Let me know if you have any other questions. So sorry I haven’t responded sooner – we’ve had enough happen in one week to last us a month! My husband and I are both down with bad colds, we moved, and my grandmother-in-law went in for emergency double bipass surgery. So it’s been busy!"

First Swap – “Going Inside”

With much anticipation and delight, I received my very first collaborative art project back in the mail yesterday. The project was called "Going Inside" – the goal was to create 3 journal cards, sized 4" x 6", arted up on both sides, but including some kind of thought-provoking question or phrase on the back. We made 5 copies of each card, one of each player, and mailed them all to Debi Scott, our hostess. Debi is from Arizona and her origins have lent the project a distinct flare consistent with the desert in the southwest. Our journal cards are enclosed in a piece of Stoned Oil Cowhide that she picked up at the Leather Factory. Her husband Scott cut the pieces while she lovingly sewed each of them together and embellished with beads that look like polished sand. A long strap of hide was cut to wrap around the pouch and hold it closed.

Currently, I have the book proudly displayed on our brand new oak shelves in our living room, and it is fun to show and explain it to people that come to visit. Sometimes I like to pick it up and curl up on the couch with my journal, and flip through the pages drinking in the art and being inspired by the questions and quotes. As soon as I can take some digital photos and clean them up, I’ll show you all what it looks like!