Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Wanna see?

My friend Brenda received her anniversary quilt in December (in only a WEEK!!!) and saved it to open on Christmas Day. She was really pleased with it- and now I am at liberty to share it and it's story with you.

Here is a photo of the completed quilt on my bed:

I chose each block specifically for the story and there are 14 of them because they were married on the 14th of September.

Starting from top left and going across, row by row (like reading), I will tell the story with the block names in capital letters- sometimes they are in the main part of the story, sometimes they will be in brackets. I will write the story in paragraphs to indicate a new row.

Once upon a time, HANDY ANDY (Brenda's husband's name is Andy and he is a contractor), and LADY OF THE LAKE (Brenda grew up in a farmhouse on a small lake and had a lot of parties) fell in love and decided to get married (BRIDAL PATH). 

Though they could be as different as NIGHT & DAY, they promised to love each other through SUNLIGHT & SHADOWS. So Brenda and Andy got married on September 14th, 1985 (a HEART block with wedding date in free-motion quilting) and made a home together (LOG CABIN). 

Brenda was sometimes a CONTRARY WIFE, but a loving one always. They had three lovely children, Matthew, Jessica, and Adam (a BUTTERFLY block with kids' names), and Brenda was living a MOTHER'S DREAM. The family was able to enjoy many hours together at their favorite summer getaway (CROSSED CANOES).

No matter how busy Brenda got, she always had time to go out for dessert and Diet Coke with a friend (CAKE STAND, FRIENDSHIP).

The Maple Leaf block is because they are Canadian. This story is paraphrased because even though I took a photocopy of the label (which is this whole story plus other details), I can't find that paper right now and I DIDN'T remember to take a photograph of it. Good grief.

On the right side (as you are looking), is an applique vine and flowers- 14 flowers for the 14th again, and 25 leaves for the twenty-five years they have been married.

As any of my blog followers know, I am terrible at following patterns- I always think that I don't need to, or that I can do better, or worse, that I actually know what I am doing without it... lol But it does come back to bite me often- you'd think I would learn! lol This quilt is obviously my own design and it really didn't come out exactly the size I had hoped, but overall, I am pleased with it. And more importantly, Brenda is!

Here are some closer shots of some of the free motion I did in the sashing and on the floral side:

Here is the quilt on my lap while sewing on the binding.

I love making quilts, though I haven't made enough of them for it to feel like an easily-flowing task yet. I still find it overwhelming, but oh so satisfying at the end!

I will be back, I have been doing LOTS of things in the past month, just haven't made time to post!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Quick peek

Okay, it's been a while since I posted anything I have been working on, so I wanted to post a photo this morning to show you that I AM working on something! lol

I lost the whole week last week with the holiday and company and this quilt MUST get in the mail no later than Saturday, or I'm afraid it won't arrive in Canada before Christmas.

I have to admit, that imaginary line, the border between the US and Canada, does baffle me- how does it cause so much stress to the post office on both sides??? I have had Christmas packages travel from here to there in five days, in other instances, it took more than three weeks... I will have to keep my fingers crossed that this time will be on the shorter side.

So here is a quick peek at the quilt. It's for my BF Brenda's 25th anniversary and is a sampler quilt of sorts.

Everything in it is there for a reason or to represent a number and I can't explain now just in case Brenda decides to check out my blog.

But I will make sure to take lots of photos before sending it out and I will tell you the quilt story!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Great giveaway by a great artist!

I often find great artists by clicking on links that artists I follow have on their blogs.

If you do the same, you might already be aware of Diane Salter, because I have a link to her...

I "met" Diane in Suzi Blu's Les Petit Academy, and still keep up with what she is doing because I LOVE her work.

Diane not only draws, paints, makes her own paper, decorates boxes, doors, and furniture, but she sells her stuff, traipsing off to various craft shows around her area.

She often incorporates her beautifully drawn girls and angels into her work, and she works in a palette that is appealing to many people- including me! Her work is so exciting and interesting because there are so many layers and lovely things going on- but it never looks busy.

If you are interested at all in doing this, you need to visit Diane's blog and go through the archives- she is very generous with information about how to sell your work, how to do many of the techniques she uses, and tips in general.

This is a one year blog anniversary for Diane, and she is celebrating with not one, but two giveaways!

You can get up to three chances to win:

1. post a comment on her blog here:

2. become a follower- and mention that in your comment

3. post a blog entry about it and let Diane know in a comment

Easy peasy! I would love to have either of the prizes, they are both gorgeous! Thanks so much, Diane!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I am one LUCKY DUCK!!!

Entering giveaways is fun and I have had fun doing it because it leads me to new artists to follow and love!

Every time I enter a giveaway, I become a "follower" so that I can enjoy seeing others' work and joy, and so I can learn.

This week however, I actually won- not once, but TWICE.

First, I won a great tote bag and apron from Susan Brubaker Knapp at . All I had to do was look at beautiful photos from Quilt Market and make a comment. Looking was wonderful! I don't get to go to Quilt Market so I love it when people share photos and their experiences!

Susan is a wonderful quilt artist and author who teaches online and is featured in Quilting Arts magazine often. Her blog is informative, interesting, and fun, you should go check it out. You can follow her too! Thank you so much, Susan!

Then, just tonight I found out I am the third winner in the Brave Girls Club "AWESOME" giveaway. The girls over at Brave Girls are giving away a free "Soul Restoration" online class for every 1000 "AWESOME" comments they get.

If you haven't already, you should go and check out their main site:
You will find information about the Soul Restoration class, you can sign up for the Daily Truth emails, which are short, inspirational messages that will lift up your spirits every day, you can find out about their Brave Girl Camps and Retreats (going to Brave Girl Camp is definitely on my Bucket List!), and join their community to stay in touch with Brave Girls around the world.

I am not describing it very well- you should just go there and see what all the fuss is about for yourself- you won't be sorry!

Thank you Kathy and Melody, I can't wait to dive into this new class with both feet!

On a side note, I HAVE been creating... but too busy to post photos! I am scrambling to get a queen sized quilt finished for a good friend of mine- it has to be mailed to Canada before Christmas and I have a ways to go yet. But that is because I keep changing my mind about how things should go on it. It would be easier to follow a pattern. But you already know I am not a pattern person... lol

I will post photos of the quilt before mailing. And maybe of some other stuff I have been making in between!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Swapzville at Scrapzville!

Hi all!

I have been having a lot of fun over the last couple of months, participating in some mini-album swaps over at Scrapzville! You can click on the link and go there too, and join in if you like- or click on the Swapzville button to the right of this post.

I joined the swap in September and Scrapzville's swap queen, Felicia, was my partner. You can see a little video that Felicia made of the album she sent me here:
She does a much better job of showing the album than I could. It is beautiful and I am amazed that someone could do all of that, starting with TP tubes!

Then I joined again for the October "Frightful and Delightful" swap- and look what I got from Ann! I have to do photos- and they don't do it justice at all, because you just can't show everything that comes out or opens or pops up. But trust me when I say I was plenty delighted with this album! Thank you SO much, Ann!

Both of the albums I have received in the swaps look so professional and stunning; these women have scrapbooking super-powers!

I actually feel kind of sorry for the ladies that get stuck with me for a swap partner! I am such a novice and it really shows. I LOVED making the albums I made, and these two I have received have already taught me a lot of things- but I am a rank amateur, no doubt about it.

These are jolly gals to play with though, and I am thankful that they have been gracious and encouraging about my fledgling skills.

Over the Christmas holidays, or before if I can make a little time, I am going to fill these lovelies with old photos and put them up on my mantle- they are so beautiful, they just NEED to be displayed! And I have to tell you, my kids are going to have so much fun looking through these!

Thanks again, Felicia and Ann, you are amazing artists and I am just thrilled to have some of your work in my home!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween Art

Just had to show you the pumpkins my 13 year old carved. There is an art to this- even if you are following a pattern!

The patterns were in an old folder; you tape it to the pumpkin and poke a bunch of holes around the design- then remove the paper pattern and set to cutting all the little pieces out.

It's weird- this child has very little patience for much, but for the past three years, pumpkins have commanded her full attention- and certainly command the attention of the adults taking their kids from door to door!

If you click on them, you can see a larger photo of them.

This is pumpkin number two- Heidi didn't want to carve hers, and Chloe didn't have a lot of time, so she chose an "easier" design... wouldn't have been easier for me, but compared to the first one she did this weekend, I guess it is easier...

Where does she get the patience?!?
I wouldn't even have considered it... and it even has a hanging spider.

She actually spent more time on these pumpkins than on her costume- because it isn't cool to have mom's help any more... but she was happy with how she dressed- and even more so because she was able to wear her footie pajamas underneath! lol

I had to cut her little friend off (she was dressed as a voodoo doll and looked great) because I don't publish other peoples' kids' photos without permission. You know.

Hope you all had a happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

How do I know?

I don't have photos to post this time, because this is not about something I have completed or something I am physically working on. This is about something I am wondering about.

The biggest thing art has done for me, is bring me self-awareness. I don't even know how to fully describe it- it's like being awakened after a long, deep sleep.

Since moving here, I have been awake, aware- but I always have this feeling there is more. The problem is, I spent the first 40 years of my life ignoring my inner voice, not trusting myself or my judgement, not believing that I have anything worth saying.

That has changed since I married my husband and moved here to be with him. I have been here, in the US, in this marriage, in our home, for over two years now and I feel gloriously excited, because I know I am on the right path for me. I do have something to say, and I have so many ways to say it. I want to trust myself, if I can only figure out how to know when to really listen!

But how do I know when my inner voice is telling me I need to do something specific because it is where I NEED to be, and not just something that I WANT to do because now I can?

How do I learn to listen and really understand that voice, that intuition, the one that really knows what road is mine right now?

What approach do I take? Do what is calling to me and trust/hope that it is right? Do nothing because I can rationalize myself out of it, or find a reason why I can't do it? I am just afraid of wasting time on the wrong thing. I have already spent a lifetime doing that! lol

Maybe it's best to take that leap of faith and do what feels right. What is the worst that can happen? I learn something? I find the right road while I am on an interim one? Neither of those things sound very negative, do they?

Maybe if I can bring myself to be more open about learning- not only techniques, but about ME and what makes me tick, I will be able to create what a friend of mine calls Soul-Work, and I will be better equipped to deal with the emotional issues that need to be addressed in this household.

Okay- so when I look at it THAT way- what wouldn't I do to get there?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

What's new and link to a giveaway!

Good morning Fellow Artistes!

I have been a bad blogger! My excuse is that my luncheon last week took up a lot of my time- and this week, I have been working away at a little Halloween scrapbook for my swap through Scrapzville.

Felicia at Scrapzville is an absolute wonder- if you like making mini albums, you will LOVE what she does and should go visit her blog to see her talent in action!

Last night was the meeting of a little art group I belong to. We started it about a year and a half ago, and there were about a half dozen of us coming regularly. Then we added some new people and lost most of the original members, so we still really don't have any kind of a mission statement or specific purpose.

Each of us is at a different place in our artistic journey, and many of our goals are different. But we always enjoy being together, so we keep going. Personally, though I don't have the time to commit to my creative side, (nor the talent to pull it off yet!), my art is very important to me. I NEED to always be making something, and it is is inspiring to surround myself with people who are like-minded.

We meet once a month and bring either works in progress for feedback, or work we have completed to show everyone.

I brought my Italy panels with me last night to show and get this: my husband was actually worried that I was taking them down for good! lol  He really likes them and was happy to know they were just leaving temporarily. It feels pretty great to have made something to hang in our home that he likes as well as I do!

Here is how they look on the wall- you can click on the photo to see it larger.

I have to tell you about a necklace that my friend was wearing to our meeting last night- she bought it at a little shop and it was made by a local artist. It says on the front: May I be excused? and on the back: Thank you.

How simple- and how funny! How many times a day, especially with two teenaged girls at home, do I ask myself that very question?! I think I need one of those to wear EVERY DAY. lol I bet everyone could think of a time that being excused from something would be just great!

And last, but certainly not least, you should go over to Artsy Butterfly- Cathy is having her very first giveaway, a couple of photo prints. The shots are both taken at night, and are simply stunning! Of course, I love photography and have never been able to take good night shots. I suppose I had better get going and take a course on how to use my camera properly!

You should make some time to look through Cathy's blog while you are there. She is a talented photographer with a great sense of humor, you will enjoy looking. And she has an Etsy shop in case you see something you can't live without!

So, at the advice of one of my fellow bloggers, Connie, at Dirty Footprints Studio- TURN OFF THE COMPUTER- GO MAKE ART!!! And that's just what I am going to do! Have a good day all!

Friday, October 8, 2010

My art this week...

My art this week was creating peace for myself when I most needed it and creating tasty food and a pretty setting for my get-together today.

Monday morning started off very badly with a family thing (I have two teenaged daughters at home- 'nuff said, right? lol), and I was feeling really low.

Instead of letting myself get into a funk about it, I did what housework absolutely had to be looked after and then spent the rest of the day in my studio, letting off steam through my hands, and it was wonderful!

Tuesday was my only son's 20th birthday. He lives two thousand miles away from me, and it is always a little tough to not be there on special celebratory days- but we had a great chat on the phone and he had a great birthday. Very fitting- he's a great guy. (I almost said kid. Yikes.)

Tuesday I also had my car in the garage all day, so there was the traveling back and forth for that, between the cleaning and planning and researching and creating.

Wednesday they came to put the very last finishing touches on my kitchen and not a moment too soon! I spent a good portion of that day in my studio as well, as I was making some little quilty ornaments and trying to finish up my Italy panels so I could hang them on the wall before Friday.

So what about Friday caused the hurry?

I belong to an antiques group with my neighbor and today was my day to host the group for lunch and a program. I had two co-hostesses who helped with planning, food, set up, and clean up.

I had to borrow most of the dishes and silverware we used, as there were 19 of us! I also had to borrow a teapot, coffee pot, sugar bowl, creamer, and large coffee maker... Thankfully, I actually have seating for 19 people, believe it or not! lol

I made lasagna and fresh dinner rolls, one of my helpers made an amazing spinach and fruit salad, and my other helper made the moistest, tastiest pumpkin cake for dessert.

I presented the program on the history of quilting, and after that I showed some of my quilted things (bed quilts, art quilts, bags/purses), and everyone was so kind and excited! I had invited the others to bring a quilt to show and talk about, and that was just the most fun- in fact, we are going to continue with it for the show and tell for next month too!

In the middle of the photo, to the right of the fireplace, you can kind of see my Italy panels hanging on the wall. I haven't finished the 9th one yet, but I hung what I had and I had a lot of great feedback on them today.

It was kind of scary; this was not only the first time I have entertained a large group (ever), but it was the first time that I had a lot of my work out for people to see. But I got so many positive comments it was very cool!

Here are the tables all set up for my guests. Don't you love the flowers? My neighbor Elizabeth and her husband were here at 8:30 am this morning with a bunch of vases and freshly cut roses from her garden!

All of my lovely guests had a good time, as did I. After everyone left, I wondered to myself how on earth I got here? I wasn't nervous today at all- I felt complete confidence in my abilities to entertain my friends, to feed them, to present an interesting program... when in my past, I would never have been able to pull any of that off. And not because of my lack of space- I just didn't have any faith in myself or my ability to do anything well enough, and that always caused me a lot of stress.

Today was stress-free. Not only that, it was fun! And it is all because I am growing into the person that has always been inside of me. I am loved, I am treasured, and I am free.

My darling hubby spoils me ROTTEN, I have to say. What a beautiful home we are making together. I am a HAPPY, HAPPY girl!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Some awesome people and sites to check out!

Writing my earlier post today made me think of the numerous generous people I am in contact with every day through blogs and websites, and how much talent and generosity is out there!

A number of these artists are so giving with their time and information- there is a number of them doing free tutorials or giving instructions on how they made something so you can too.

This is by no means a complete list of what is out there- but whom I have on my list right now that is generous with their talent.

In alphabetical order:

One Designer's Journey: - videos of crafty things and recipes

1st Floor Flat: - video tutorials of art & stuff

alisaburke: - recipes and how-to's for art & photography

Art Freebies: - free vintage-type images for you to use in your art

Creative Carmelita: - step-by-step instructions for many different things

Heather Thomas: - step-by-step instructions for machine quilting

Hub Bub: - lots of video tutorials for art journaling and Creative Revolutionaries

My Art Journal: - mixed media tutorials & tips/hints for craft shows

Scrapzville: - video tutorials about everything scrapbooking & monthly swaps

Teesha Moore: - how she does her art journals

The Magpie's Nest: freebies and tutorials

The Three Muses: - weekly challenges for anyone to join

Why not visit these sites and see what you think- and leave a comment for them. We bloggers LOVE comments!!!

What we do

As an aspiring artist, I follow many blogs and visit many sites every week. These blogs and sites give me inspiration, ideas, HOPE.

Those of you who make art, know for yourself that art is a healing thing! And those of you who don't make art because you think you can't- think again! It is in ALL of us to create things, to express ourselves in some artistic way.

Art takes many forms. There is art to making a beautiful home for your family and loved ones. There is art in growing food or flowers. There is art in cooking a delicious meal. There is art in donating your time and efforts to help others.

And then of course, there is the art we create to adorn our walls, our bodies, our furniture, our surroundings.

Any of the things we do to make our lives or the lives of others more beautiful, is art.

The community of artists is a generous and giving one. So many artists out there are helping people find peace and healing through art. They are helping people find their voice, and that is a spectacular thing!

There are so many online courses you can take to learn things, and with them you get a community of like-minded people surrounding. These people can often become friends. How cool is that???

Many of the courses are for a fee of course, as these wonderful people do have to make a living like the rest of us. And we should support them in their endeavours because what they do is important!

However, every once in a while, someone offers some instruction for free, out of the goodness of their hearts, because they have this need to reach out to those who might otherwise have to miss out on learning because of their financial situation.

I am going to tell you about one of those artists today: Tam at

She is offering a free, four-week course on healing art beginning October 18- but registration is open now.

It is open to everyone! It costs nothing- but if you can afford the price of a class, why not make a donation or look at what classes are available for purchase on her site? If you can't afford to do that, please post about this class and add a button- spread the word so more people will go to Tam's site and either join the class or buy stuff- or both! Spread the love!!! Because that is what artist do!!!

You will find the button on my sidebar. I think it is going to be a great class. Wanna join me there?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

So, about Suzi Blu...

Where to start describing an experience that changed your life and helped you believe things about yourself that you never would have thought possible?

My interest in art journaling prompted me to find YouTube videos to watch- and that was when I first came across Miss Suzi Blu. She had a whole bunch of free tutorials on there that were fun and informative. I watched every single one of them, I couldn't get enough. I watched Suzi demonstrate things and thought, "I might be able to do something like that- and I want to try!"

I did a search and found Suzi's website, "A Lovely Dream", at and saw that she offered online drawing classes, both in stylized faces and folk art dolls. There was a promotional video for "The Goddess and the Poet" which I watched two whole times in its entirety. You wanna know what really got me determined to sign up?

Suzi said she believes that everyone can learn to draw. That she believes we should all be kind and patient with ourselves and our mistakes and let our inner artist come out. Negativity is discouraged- well, trampled down with positivity, actually! Now I know she wasn't talking about or to me specifically, but here's The Thing: it felt like she was.

When you learn with Suzi, you are in for a real experience of the life-changing kind! All of the videos are filmed with a "you-can-do-this" attitude mixed with humour, good solid instruction, and constant reminders to take it slow, enjoy the process, and to expect mistakes. We were always encouraged to embrace our mistakes, to see them as part of our learning process.

Permission to make mistakes? Sign me up! lol That was definitely an environment I could embrace and learn in!

So, I signed up for The Goddess and the Poet, and got the Angels class too. I went right out and got some basic supplies and started watching the videos that make up the class. And I drew, every single day. I was addicted!

Drawing is fascinating and relaxing, and it gives me a real sense of accomplishment. Why? Because unlike some of the other artsy things I do, when I draw- even when I am trying to imitate my teacher- I am making something so unique to ME, something no one else has drawn exactly. I hope I am explaining myself properly.

I plucked up my courage and started posting even my beginner photos, of eyes, noses, lips... and moved on to faces and such. I can draw a face!!!

When you post something in the homework area, it gets specific feedback from Suzi- what works, what you could do to make it work better (if you want), etc. I don't know how on earth she managed all of the critiques, but she did. It was really great to see my work through her eyes, because I was finding that looking at it for so long kind of made me lose perspective.

The Student Gallery is a place for the students to post photos of what they are working on for everyone to see, and that really helps too. Not only is it inspiring as all get out, but it helped me see what I was doing right and wrong for myself, because I could see what appealed to me, and how it was the same or different to what I was doing.

Besides the personal attention, the classroom set up is great! I have "met" a lot of really cool people at Suzi Skool ( I follow their blogs and learn from them too!

After Goddess & Poet was finished, I signed up for Piety & Passion, which focused on side profiles and the 3/4 view of the face. That was harder, and I don't know that I really understand the placement of things yet, but since we get to keep the videos from the classes (which is a HUGE bonus!), I can re-visit it at any time and go through it- again and again if I need to.

I was fortunate enough to be able to buy the Petit Dolls Beginner and Advanced classes too, when they were offered one last time. I haven't gotten through too many of those yet, but again, since I have them to keep, I can do that at my leisure.

After a lot of debate with myself, I decided I wasn't able to commit to any other classes at this time, due to my volunteer work at my daughter's high school, and so I didn't sign up for the Mermaid class, sadly.
But I am still a member of the school and am able to see the wonderful things that everyone is producing! How fun is that?

If you need further motivation to sign up for a Suzi class, consider this: you will not only learn how to draw something (and that in itself is pretty amazing), but you will learn other things about yourself- like how much creativity and imagination you really have! And you will find it coming out in SO many different ways during and after a class with Suzi Blu.

I know I think bigger and so much differently about my art- and my life- than I did before I started. Sign up- you won't be sorry!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Uber-Cool giveaway!!!

I follow a LOT of artists' blogs, and I am constantly going from site to site to see what beautiful things all of these wonderful people are creating. It's awe-inspiring on a slow day- so don't even get me started on a there-are-so-many-posts-that-I-am-going-to-leave-a-bumprint-in-MY-chair-too day! lol

Connie over at Dirty Footprints Studio  ( is offering a STUPENDOUS giveaway for those of us who spread the word about this fantastic new art journaling class of hers- I could win the class PLUS I could win a class to give away to one of you reading my blog... is that fantastically generous or what???

I love art journalling but still feel pretty timid about it and so I am tempted to take this class and dive in!
The workshop is called: 21 Secrets: An Art Journal Playground. You can read all about it here:

I just finished reading through the teacher list and descriptions and holy cow, if even we don't win (you know, you and me!) what a value this is- well worth the small price they are offering it for. Every single secret sounds exciting and thought-provoking and fun! ALL of them sound fun and exciting to me!

Though I must admit, I am especially intrigued by a few that really stand out because of my particular interests or weaknesses...

Like the Conversations with Self: Letters from Your Inner Child, by Angelia Thompson. Who doesn't have childhood issues they wish they could be done with once and for all??? I know I could stand to silence those negative age-old messages!

And Art Journaling's Sassy Little Sister: The Art Postcard by Lis Hofmann. Who doesn't LOVE to get real, hands-on mail? I moved here to Colorado from Ontario, Canada a little over two years ago, which means I have a daughter, three sisters, and dear, dear friends who are FAR away... I would love to learn some things to make pretty and interesting things to send them all, to let them know I am thinking of them.

What about The Secret of Beginning, by Lisa Wilson? I should probably start there... I feel like I have all of these ideas and ambitions swirling around in my mind and soul, but I hardly ever know how to get them out of me onto a page or canvas, into my work. I would like to learn how to start!

And 10 Text Techniques, by Tami Chacon. Every artist I know personally is all about words in their work, and I have to admit, I would love to know how to put them into my work too. Every time I try, it looks out of place and just not right.

This is just a very small sampling of this workshop- and I would be willing to bet that you will find not one, but a bunch that appeal specifically to you too. Here's the link again:

And who knows, maybe we will be classmates!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Coming along...

After working on the backgrounds of my Italy pieces for a few days (here and there), I got a little stuck as to where to go next.

Then I got a little scared. I was liking the backgrounds and didn't want to ruin them.

So I started by laying out the photos and the ticket stubs and various paraphernalia that I wanted to display on the boards, moving them around to suit me, and fitting in each place name where it seemed to go.

Then I looked some more, day after day, afraid to do anything permanent, to wreck all the work and thought I had put in so far.

On the weekend, we worked like crazy on Saturday to get everything around the house done so we could relax on Sunday.

And then here I was with this time, late Sunday afternoon. For a moment I hesitated: should I just charge right in and glue the stuff down, or should I spend more time agonizing over whether I had everything just right or not?

I decided I was being ridiculous and just started getting the stuff attached, one panel at a time.

I need to print a few more photos- there are a few holes now where there weren't before... not sure how that happened exactly...

I am debating whether to label the photos on the front, or make a list on the back. I need to decide also how to and how much to tone down some of these items that really stand out.

I have walnut inks in four different colours, which I could brush or spray on.

I have both Paynes Gray and Burnt Umber Golden Fluid acrylics which work wonders at shading- but as there is both blue and brown in these, I am not sure which way I want to go.

It's a little odd; usually when I post my work up here and I can see the photos from a different perspective, I notice many things that I don't like and that don't fit. But these actually look better in the photos than I think they look on my table.

Which brings up important questions. What do/will others see? Should I work forward based on what I see in the photo here or what I see in front of me?

I guess this is where some experience would really help me. And I guess the only way to get it, is to DO it! 

Monday, August 23, 2010

Still working on background

So I have added more to the backgrounds- Titan buff rubbed on, then splattered on.

Rubber stamps (two I made myself from scraps of a new set I just bought), in blue, green, mauve, and white. See, I think the background is nice, but so dark that the photos won't show. This is my attempt to lighten it up. I might put some light coloured ink around the torn edges of the photos too- but I am trying to be careful not to introduce too many colours. Maybe I already have too many... I could paint over it, if I must!

A closer view of one panel- I need to lighten it without completely covering the Italian newspaper I used as a first layer.

A view of the set. The place names are rub-on letters on scrapbook paper then torn- they look good to me, but as I look at these photos, I can see they will need to be grunged up a bit so they don't stick out like a sore thumb! lol 

I may have to change/paint over some of the colours too, but I am waiting to see.

I have my photos sorted and torn, my ticket stubs and maps all ready- now for the courage to start putting it all together!

I find I do better work when I don't think TOO much. My subconscious seems to have a better feel for things than my conscious! lol

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Next step in Italy series- and suggestions if you have them!

Well, getting ready for our kitchen renos has left me very little time to work in my studio, though I have been thinking a lot about it.

Now that the renovations have begun and things are getting into a bit of routine with them, I have some time.

My first challenge was to see if I would be able to use photos printed on paper without the ink running and blurring or smearing the photos.

To test it out, I decided to do an Italy panel featuring a bunch of my favourite photos of my dear hubby I took on our vacation.

Thinking that the photos are so full of blues and greens (Italy is so lush and bright!), I began my background with a green hill and blue sky. It turned out way too bright and so I scraped a whole bunch of Titan Buff on it to tone it down, and I liked it!

I bought some chipboard letters on sale and coloured them with some little stamp pads I have, in blue and green. Then I edged them in Raw Umber. I love blue and green and brown together!

I had some white tissue paper that said "100% handmade in Italy, with a little picture of the boot- I tore pieces so I just had "Italy" and the picture, and collaged it all over the canvas.

Next I tore the photos to give me raw edges and placed them where I wanted them. I used matte medium to brush the backs and glue them on, using a dry, clean finger to smooth themout (I didn't want the ink to run). I let it dry for a while, then came in and quickly brushed a layer of matte medium over top of it- so far, so good!

I tried attaching a photo I had printed on fabric too, but it got too wet and dried in a complete blur. I attached a copy of the same photo printed on paper on top of it.

After the photos were dry, using Raw Umber, both out of the bottle and mixed with acrylic glazing liquid, I brushed the paint on and wiped it off, doing layers to make the photos stand out a bit.

I love the palette, and have carried it over to the seven original panels that I started in newspaper and walnut ink (last post). I dabbed on some blue and green paints, and let them dry. Next step will be some Titan Buff before I add anything else.

I had a little bit of blue and green paint left over, so I covered the ninth panel and might do an end piece to tie it all in- hang all nine together... AND I worked on a background piece. Backgrounds are my weak area and I am trying to learn how to do a good one. I have no idea what I will do with this yet, but it isn't going anywhere so I guess I don't have to decide right now!

But now I have a question for you: do you have any suggestions for what might enhance/finish this first panel? I am planning to write the locations of the photos in brown ink (which I have to get first), because I don't want to depend on my memory to remind me where they were all taken.

I am happy with it, and could probably leave it, but I have the feeling it might need something else to fill it in or finish it, other than the writing... just not sure yet what it should be. Maybe I need to do the writing first and see what I think. Maybe I could journal a little in handwriting...

Aaaaakkkk! I am a little anxious, I don't want to ruin this, especially when it is at a point that I like the overall look.... lol

I am continually amazed at what comes out of my original ideas- because they are never what I imagine at the beginning.

I am fairly new to mixed media and my biggest challenge to date is knowing when to stop. Oh. And when to keep going.  lol

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Italy Panels!

Since I finally have things pretty much back to normal, I figured it was time to start on the project I thought of while on holiday with DH in Italy this summer.

I collected and saved all of our ticket stubs from museums, trains, everything. I saved sales receipts, sugar packets (a couple of them were really cool!), bread stick wrappers, a newspaper, brochures, etc.

Of course, I only had a vague idea then, and I have to confess, it's still rather vague now too! lol

I have sorted out all the paraphernalia into places, so there will be seven pieces in this project. One for each place: Milan, Lake Como, Torino, Genova, Cinque Terre, Pisa, and Firenze.

I bought seven 11 x 14 canvas panels (actually nine, since they came in 3-packs), and started on the backgrounds today.

I did one at a time, starting by covering the panel with matte medium. Then I tore strips and chunks of the newspaper and mostly covered the panel.

When the board was covered with just some little blank spots, I covered it all with another coat of matte medium, and smoothed it out with my fingers. This is really messy and hard to get off your fingers, so you could wear gloves. I don't, because I kind of enjoy the mess as part of the process.

Then I sprayed it with Tsukinek Walnut Ink, in Eucalyptus. I like the way it enhances the wrinkle of the newspaper and the texture of the canvas.

I did all seven of them, and they are drying right now.

Here is one panel closer up- it's drier because it was done first.

After they are all fully dry, I will see how dark they are, and I suppose before I decide if they need lightening up or not, I should see what the next layer looks like next to it.

And what to put on besides ticket stubs?

When I go through my stuff, I will tear out the place name for each from a brochure.

I made a journal entry from each place. They are still sketches, and I have scanned them into my computer. I can print out a smaller copies of them and colour or paint them, if I want. Or I could print out the smaller copies and put them on as is. I haven't decided. Maybe I won't include them at all.

I am also thinking of choosing a photo or two for each place and printing it on Lutradur, but again, no concrete plans. 

I have a feeling that this project will lead me where I need to go. Actually that is often the case with much of what I do, because nothing ever turns out the way I originally envisioned... lol

I will keep you posted as I progress.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Finally back!

I am finally back to normal (and I use that term very loosely! lol) life.

Rich and I have had our wonderful trip to Italy, and I have been busily organizing my 2000+ photos...
I will be sharing a number of them on this blog, as I took them specifically for their inspiration. But it will still likely take me a little bit to get things sorted.

I am the mother of four, two teens living here with me and my husband, and two young adults, living and working up in Ottawa, Canada, where we are from.

The two youngest went up to Ottawa and spent three weeks with their siblings- then all four of them flew here, so I could also have a visit with them. I usually only get to see them at Christmas, because of their work and school obligations.

Anyway, all of my kids are artistic and enjoy doing and making things. I was really looking forward to spending time with my three girls in my studio, and wanted my son to join us, but didn't think he would enjoy making an art journal, doing mixed media, etc.

So I did a little research and found that there were books and kits to teach someone how to draw Marvel-type comics, something my son is completely taken with!

I ordered a couple of books and a kit for Ben, and I ordered a couple of books and a mixed media kit for Holly.

Much to my delight, my studio was the hub of a lot of the week's activity! They were all in there at various times, adding things to their projects and just generally relaxing and enjoying themselves together.

I wanted to help them add art to their lives- in an accessible way. I had them use their kits and as many of my supplies as they wanted, to see what they wanted to have for themselves at home in addition to their kits and books.

We went on a little spree to purchase some basics for them to bring home: paint brushes, water soluble coloured pencils, regular coloured pencils, mechanical pencils, kneaded erasers, sketch books, journals, a set of oil pastels for Holly, a little manikin and some different rulers for Ben; there might have been more, I can't remember what else.

As Holly and Ben support themselves without help from me, they pretty much live paycheck to paycheck and art supplies are a luxury.

Only I don't think that is true, really. I really believe what Jenny Doh says "ART SAVES".
I think by being able to send my kids home with their own art supplies, I have given them another way to deal with the stresses of every day life, and the ability to create joy whenever they please!

Here are three of them working away intently- I must have stood and watched them for a good ten minutes, just feeling the happy wash over me!

Here are a few things Holly made:

Her mixed media on wood

Her art journal

And a pastel drawing

And Ben's:

Comic book hero (not sure if he has a name)

A kind of mixed media piece using some lines from the movie, "Boondock Saints"(I believe)

And another on wood with the comic guy's face

Chloe worked on her art journal- this is a page spread (I haven't gotten a photo of the cover yet)

Aren't they talented?!

Heidi started work on her art journal as well, but she had to work some of the time and didn't get to spend as much time in the studio as the rest of them. I will post more journal pictures that Heidi and Chloe do over the summer.

I am hoping that I have convinced all of them that creating is an integral part of life.

I told them all that I expect them to make me a piece of art as a Christmas gift. I don't want anything else, but to be able to hang up and look at things my kids have created for me. My studio is just going to get better and better!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Independence Girls!

Happy Fourth of July all!

As any of you who follow my blog already know, I have been taking online classes with Suzi Blu since January. And as I am sure you also know, I have had an absolute blast of a time while I learn.

Earlier in the week, Suzi challenged all of us to make a Fourth of July piece. We have to put it in the student gallery at Suzi Blu's Les Petit Academy for our fellow artists to see and comment on (and my fellow artists are the most incredibly supportive group EVER), and then do a post on our blogs about our experiences in Suzi's Underground Art Skool. Here is the link:

So here is my piece, even though I feel it is not quite done yet.  What fun I had making it, especially trying to figure out that crazy hair! Being a Canadian who has just had the temporary residency status taken off of her green card (I am a legal resident alien now! lol), I thought it only fitting to do both a Canadian AND American girl. (We just celebrated Canada's birthday on July 1st).

For some unknown reason, my photos rarely do my work justice. When I look at this piece in person, I don't see everything so defined- yet here, as I look, things stand out too much... I really think I need to invest in some kind of better flash or light to photograph my stuff!

This is done on glass primed with gesso. There is a map of the US and Canada in the background, along with paints, colored pencils, stamps, paper, Angelina fibers (the hair!), sequins (I just happened to have red, white, and blue stars and red maple leaves!), irrrdescent medium, bleeding tissue, and lots of Titan Buff paint- I still don't have their faces right and keep going over them. But at this point, I am running out of time to post, so posting I am!

My move here to the States HAS been an adventure in both happiness and immigration! And since moving here, I am learning new things all of the time, not the least of which is about art.

I will just say, for anyone who has ever wanted to learn to draw but thought they could never do it, these classes will change your mind. Besides learning some really good basics in a wonderfully supportive way, you will find yourself surrounded by a fantastic group of fellow artists, and led by a teacher who is funny,  gifted, and so wonderful to learn from.

There are no "requirements" to get things done, for things to look a certain way. In fact, the way Suzi approaches her teaching with an attitude that everything we all make is art. She wants us to know that we need to foster patience with ourselves and the process of learning. We are encouraged to copy her examples, because that is how the masters learned it- and no one's art looks like anyone else's anyway! lol

Most of all, what has helped me grow in confidence is the knowledge that I can always fix my mistakes or work them into something else. There is such a freedom in that! It's blanket permission to just get into the studio and make what moves me at that moment without all of the stress and worry that it might not be right or good enough.

Taking classes with Suzi is the best thing I have ever done for myself- because I NEED to create and I, like many other artists, flourish when I am inspired and encouraged by like-minded, generous, talented people.

I know a number of talented women who follow my blog and whose blog I follow, are my fellow students with Suzi, and they know exactly what I am talking about.

If you are not already a Suzi student, why not click on this link and check out the available classes?
If you have a little time this summer, you can even try a class for a discounted price right now. If you sign up, you still have till September to submit your work for feedback. It's a great deal! If you want access to the critique rooms for a whole semester, the new classes will start in September. You will never know the heights you can reach until you try.

Just in case you are wondering after reading this post: no, I am not being paid to promote Suzi Skool. lol I just want to share with you something that has really changed my life by helping me see that I too, can create beautiful things, and express myself in so many ways as an artist!

Monday, June 28, 2010

just quick...

Well, we are back. Italy was wonderful! I came back so inspired by what I saw and experienced. I will explain in better detail soon.

We just had a few days home to get sorted and today, all four of my kids flew in- the two that live here with us, and the two that are young adults, living on their own in Ottawa, Ontario- here for a visit with Mom!

All four of my children are creative and artistic, each in their own way, and each in more ways than one. Some of them are musically inclined, some draw, some paint, some write- I am always impressed by what they can do!

I am looking forward to a fun week with them. We will definitely spend some time creating some things and maybe I will have a few new things to show you- and to hang on my studio walls.

So I will be back soon, with stories and photos.

Happy creating, all!

Saturday, June 5, 2010


Hello all! It's been a while since I posted- it's been crazy here; last few days of school, helping the girls get ready for their trip to Ottawa, getting things set for our vacation.

Now that I have things organized, let me show you what I have been working on in between cleaning and packing!

One of the Suzi Blu classes I am taking right now is called Piety & Passion. It is a part two of the portraits class (the first is Goddess & Poet- FANTASTIC!). We are learning to draw the face from the side and the 3/4 view, very challenging. But we have a theme- the Tudors! How fun is that? This leaves room for lots of mixed media embellishment and it is a blast!

This first photo shows the sketch I started with:

This next photo shows what I submitted for critique last week... and believe me, it looks a LOT better than when I started adding colour to her. She had this giant head of screaming red hair and it was TOO much! lol And the border, made with torn squares of paper, angelina fibres, and paint was too- I don't know what. Defined maybe.
The pink was my solution to re-unify the piece in order to go forward. The paint had to be thick, so I added some texture with the end of my paint brush. Oh, and the velvet for her dress.

This is what I am submitting this week.
I am playing with things to add texture, I want to see how they work, how they look, how they play with other products I use in the work. I am also trying to remember to do the push-pull thing. 
This photo is not very good- the light is reflecting on the metallic paint on her eye and even the inks seem to be picking up the light. 

This step has left the piece much less defined and more chaotic. Kind of like life in general right? lol
No matter how organized I try to be, no matter how good my plans are, life always seems blurrier and less defined than I counted on. But you know what? I am really becoming okay with that. Maybe this new life of mine is finally teaching me to let go of my need for so much control over things. This class is sure teaching me to go with the flow- and not to give up, no matter how awful a piece looks to me at some point. I now actually feel there is very little in my art that I can't make pleasing in the end.

I feel that this piece is not done, but I am not sure what she needs. I will think on it. Maybe when I come home from our holidays, I will have a fresh enough eye to KNOW what she needs.

Did I tell you that next week my wonderful husband and I are going to Italy for a two-week vacation?! I have pinched myself so many times this past week... between the volcanic eruption in Iceland and the strike at British Airways (we are flying with them), I just didn't let myself get my hopes up that this trip of a lifetime would actually happen. But it IS!!!

We will fly in and out of Milan, and spend time in Lake Como, Turin, Genoa, Cinque Terre, Lucca, Pisa, and Florence. From what I have read, I could be happy spending the whole two weeks in Florence... *sigh*

My husband is not much into art, but I am dragging him to at least a few galleries anyway! I just can't even imagine what this trip will be like... One of our assignments in this Piety & Passion class is to take a field trip to a gallery or museum and draw a portrait from a sculpture. Holy cow, can you think of a better place to do that than Italy????

I will put up a blog about it when I get home and hopefully have lots of sketches and things to show you too!