Thursday, December 20, 2012

Christmas Creativity Past and Present

I have always been a little bit crazy about  making things, and Christmas time has always brought this out in me in full force.  Some times I was over-the -top in a creating frenzy, so much so that I vowed to spread the fun out year round instead of all during the month of December. I never kept that promise.  Making Christmas crafts is only fun for me at Christmas time.


Over the years I tried different things,  For awhile it was dough ornaments,  hand sculpted out of flour,  salt and water, then bake for hours, painted with acrylics and sprayed or dipped in varethane. I made hundreds, giving them away as gifts and keeping a ton for my own tree.  I tried a different version too, dipping these into paraffin to seal..  I loved the muted look it gave and amazingly they last.  It has been 20 years since I made them.

Along with making doll clothes for my girls, I sewed a few things like this crèche and this holiday girl.

Mary and Joseph are about 12' tall, sheep are about 4 inches.

I also bought myself a scroll saw and started woodcrafting ornaments. Some of them are huge, so I always have a Noble tree to hold the weight.  After cutting out the figures the process of painting and sealing are similar to the dough ornaments. 

It has been years since I last made dough or wood ornaments.  For one thing, you only need so many ornaments. I was reflecting today on that time period in my life. My children were young and would often join me in making the ornaments. I loved our  creative times together but think I, more than that, NEEDED to be creative as an outlet for things going on inside and around me. Simply put, it brought me joy to make something out of little bits of nothing.  

I had a renewal of those joyful feelings today when I spent the whole day making decorative paper cones. I got the idea from a magazine and over the past week I gathered supplies. Some I had in my craft bins, but others I purchased to make these.  I made them to give as gifts, seven in all.  I took loads of pictures along the way in case I decide to do a tutorial.  Do you think I should?  

The cones are about 12" tall from tip to top. 

Today's post is part of my monthly artist blog circle.  Our common theme this month is on reflections.  I thought a lot about what to share because that topic is quite broad.  My decision to share my handmade ornaments with you is all part of my thoughts about creative evolution.  When I was teaching, I had only snatches of time to create.  At times it became a habit to Not create.  But.. I keep coming back to it because it fills me up.  

Tomorrow I will grocery shop and put out the trash. 

Oh!  One more thing...I found this project on Pinterest, just in time. I had a sheet wrapped around the base of my tree.  Now it is decked out with burlap and lace.  How cool is that?.  

Mosey on to Kelli Watcherson's blog here and then keep on going to check out the circle.  Love this creative, smart, fascinating group of women!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Feels Good!

My first sale of an original is on its way to its new owner.  There is something very lovely about having your art appreciated to the extent that someone would purchase it!  I feel like I have arrived.  Woot!

Saturday, December 8, 2012


Up to about a month ago, I couldn't have told you what an ATC was.   But ATC's in the art world are as common as  MSP, ESL, SLP and PTA are for teachers.  An ATC stands for Artist Trading Cards.  They are 2 1/2" x 3 1/2 " in size and are little bitty pieces of original art.  The front side is a piece of art, the backside has artist info on it.

I signed up to be part of a group of artists from around the globe who want to trade art.  On a specific day every month we send by snail mail our little treasure to our assigned partner artist.  Each time you have a different person to send to.  This month will be my first time to do this and as I was reading through my Facebook threads tonight , I discovered the first one  to be sent on Monday!  Oops, I forgot it was coming up so fast.

So... I cut up watercolor paper to the right size.  I ended up with 12 little ATC size pieces.  I covered them each with Gesso, an art medium that prepares the surface for paint.  I soon found that it was so much easier to just go ahead and work on several at once.  I had a piece of paper that I had tried a new technique on.  It was a large pink flower torn from a magazine.  I put a piece of corrugated cardboard behind it and then I taken a product called wadding polish (used for cleaning silver) and rubbed it across the flower.  The polish removed the ink form the picture in the raised parts of the cardboard giving the paper a striped effect.   I took strips of this and glued them to the watercolor page.  One side of the magazine page was pink and the other had a blue floral pattern so I ended up with some blue and some pink.  ( I sure wish I had taken photographs along the way.)

My next step was to use spray inks and glimmer mists to add color.

Here is a pix of how they looked at this point.  I had NO IDEA whatsoever what my end product would be, but will let the backgrounds dictate where I end up.

I was kind of excited at this point because they looked so pretty and though I had done them pretty much simultaneously, they were all so different. Kind of amazing that all of them were done from one tear out from a magazine.

I choose the pink one in the back row to work on as my first.
Usually there is a theme for the month's ATCs but for this time there was no theme.  Since it is Christmas time, I am rather into angels.  I also wanted to use the words Fly Girl on the ATC because this group of women are called the  Soaring ATCs.  (longer story)  Anyway, that is how I came to painting my ATC.  This ATC used prepared magazine paper (as described above, acrylics, silver, white and black pens,  button brads, diamond embellishments, and a little WISH tag add-on.  The tiny ATC is really cuter than the picture, but I am sure you are pins and needles to see it, so TA-DA!

In the actual piece the layers show up better.  Anyway is turned out to be a fun project.  I have a pile of others to work on.   My next one is due to send on the 20th.
Here are some of my Works in Progress at this point.

Just little bitty bits of art.  
Any of my readers learn something new today or was I the only one in the dark about ATC's?d

Monday, November 26, 2012


 My excuse for NOT doing my art lately:


 And this......

A bit of this......

and this....

Just excuses, but who can argue?  My babies are so dang cute.  

This weekend, this little twerp went Christmas tree shopping with me.  He claimed I was "picky" and his feet were full of mud but look what kind of help he was giving me!  

But I ended up with a perfect one for my corner and once the MESS is cleaned up, maybe I'll get back to work.  

PS:  Those "excuses" were 5 of my seven grandchildren.  Just sayin...

Thursday, November 15, 2012

A Personal Note of Gratitude

The theme for this months blog circle is gratitude. This is so easy for me to relate to.   I have so much to be thankful for.  This is usually a blog about my creative pursuits but because it is Thanksgiving I am taking time out to reflect upon what is golden in my life.

 (pretty sad that I have so few pictures of my three together as adults.  This one was taken 6 years ago at my oldest, beautiful daughter's wedding).  
My family means everything to me.  I have three amazing children, (above), all grown and productive,   Anyone who has had children know there were certainly trials and sacrifices along the way but the outcome is hugely satisfactory.  I LOVE them with a fierceness that surprises me.   In the past six years those three have produced 7 children which, of course, are  grandchildren to me.  I LOVE them.

I have so much to be thankful for, but for this post want to focus on how I got to where I am now as an artist.

I really had No Idea  how much I yearned to explore this side of me. For thirty years I have dedicated my life to  raising and educating kids. I have been a school teacher in 2nd through 9th grades and have given 100% to that endeavor. 

Here are a couple of pictures showing you how goofy my life as a elementary school teacher could be.  

About a year ago, I knew that I was at the top of my game in teaching, but I was feeling it was time to move on.  I had other things I was aching to do.  I retired in June and by August I had renovated a spare room, turning it into my creative space.

My journey has been documented in this blog.  I am only three months into my (official) life as an artist but in that time I have taken three e-classes, joined a large artist community, signed up for an art retreat out of state, read countless art books,  explored, experimented and plunged into painting on a regular basis.  I have created an artist Facebook page, an Etsy shop and this blog. I am serious and  I am so thankful for the opportunity.

Since I was a little kid, I have always been happiest creating.  I learned to use a sewing machine at the age of 8, and by the following year I was sewing clothes for myself and my dolls.  I lived on acreage where there were woods to explore, claybanks to scavenge, chicken houses to renovate into a playhouse and  camps in the forest.  We did not own a TV and I was never bored.

(This picture is of me, in the middle, with my two sisters,  my mother, aunt and father.   I love the innocence of those days in the 50's. 

I love everything about that time of my life. )

When I was in high school, I decided that I wanted to be an interior designer. I took extra Home Ec classes and art classes. When I got to college I wasn't as committed to that idea and ended up with a major in Clothing, Textiles and Art. I did not have the resources to plunge into Fashion Design in Seattle in the 60's, and I needed to support a husband going through law school, so I ended up going back to college to get  a teaching degree.

I am SO thankful for my career as a teacher. It was rewarding on many levels, and most certainly, never dull.  What that experience is providing me now is a bit of retirement security while I explore this next phase in my life. Now that I am retired, I am so thankful to have something that intrigues me, causes me to learn, and is always there to turn to when I have some time. which is pretty much whenever I want.   And that is the way it should be.  I put in my time, as a parent and as a teacher, and now I get to play.
It is just so right and I am so thankful that this is my life right now.

  Here is some recent "fun" art to share with you.

And now, (after you leave me a sweet gratitude comment (<3 ), circle round to my friend, Kelli  Watcherson's blog to continue our personal thoughts on being thankful.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Wordle Wednesday

Who would think that a newly retired, ecstatically satisfied, self-professed artist would have the word WORK as the most frequently used word in her blog thus far?   In this context WORK is a positive word.  

Friday, November 2, 2012


Art washes from the soul the dust of everyday life.” -- Pablo Picasso

It also gets paint on the computer keyboard.  Man, I am a messy painter.  Today I was using gesso, acrylic paints, charcoal pencil, and oil pastels.  In the course of a few hours work, I dirty at least a dozen brushes.  My studio redo is already too small for me.  I find I want to stand while painting so I think I need a real easel.  Some day, I'll get it all figured out.  The good thing about my work area being so small is that I have to clean up after each work time.  

This week I've been working on a large canvas.  This one is for me.  I've been so busy setting up my Etsy shop and getting it stocked with a body of work that I haven't thought about what I might like in my own living room.  

For this painting,  I wanted to work larger and also wanted there to be a lot of white in the picture.  My living room has only one accent color...wythe blue 
which I wanted to repeat similarly in the painting.   And of course, I needed a girl.  

I am still trying to find my way as a mixed media artist.  I start each canvas out with a collage of materials in the background.  Materials like stamps, written material, music, poetry and patterned papers. I try to be somewhat strategic about where I place them. Ideally some of this should still be showing by the end of the paint process, but invariably I've made so many layers that the first one is long since obscured.  All that is left is the texture from the edges of the papers.  That is not necessarily a good thing.  But, I am learning.  

This  is when I was about 1/3 done. 

 I liked it, but when I moved on and painted her face and hair she looked VERY unbalanced.  Her head looked huge for her body.   So I added some "body" to her and this is where I am now.  

20 x 24 x 1 1/2" canvas

I always take a day to look at a painting before I say I'm done.  Any suggestions?

************  November 7,  2012  UPDATE:

I worked on her some more.  The arms really bothered me so I made the right one longer and the left one more proportionate.  I made her dress more see-through so you could see some skin through it, lowered her neckline and got rid of the butterfly.  Also worked on her hand, making her index finger longer.  I made most of the changes with oil pastels, because I had used a white pastel on the top and you can't/shouldn't add water based paints on top of oils.  I'm liking her better now.  I may still work some more dots back in the left upper side. I painted some out when getting rid of the butterfly.   I also used my Nikon on this rather than my IPad camera so the coloring is more true.   Thank you for your encouragement and constructive comments.  

close up crop...

Friday, October 26, 2012

Rainy Day Goodness, (Etsy Shop open!)

I am sitting at my desk looking out the window at the rain and I am filled to the brim.  I have found my niche, just sitting her at my desk looking at the rain and knowing I have so much to do, all of which is such fun stuff!

Aside from traveling through 8 states on a recent 12 day road trip with one of my brothers and one of my sisters, I have been busy learning how to resize pictures for internet, how to use my fancy new large format printer, an Epson R3000 and my new scanner, an Epson Perfection V600 Photo. (fanfare, excitement, woot,woot, Yippee!),

 ordering fancy fine art quality printer paper AND getting my Etsy shop started.  And painting.
Here's two new ones from this week.

"Girl with a veil"

This one was inspired by the ephemera my daughter brought me from Dubai and Ethiopia on her recent trip.  That and the fact that I LOVE ethnic costumes and cover-ups.  I think I'll be doing a series of scarved and hatted girls.

"Girl with Closed Eyes"

Yep, it's there.  15 originals posted AND I am just starting to post prints too.  Head on over to take a peek:  There I am at
If you see something you like and want it in a print, let me know.  I am slowly getting prints posted. Much more reasonably priced and the colors are exquisite.  (Someday when I am rich and famous, my originals will be worth a million, so stock up on those too for investment purposes.  (smiley face)

Grand Opening Etsy Sale:  25 % discount for first 10 buyers who also make a comment on this blog post.  How to do this:  First, comment on my blog, below.  Next go to Etsy,(see link above) choose the one(s) you want and then plug in the coupon code which is First10for25.  Let me know if it doesn't work for you.  
*Deal ends November 20th.  

PS!  You can comment and NOT buy anything.  It is allowed and appreciated!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Practicing Courage, Being Strong

As part of the class I am taking about "growing a creative business",  I have been privileged to be a part of a small Facebook interest group of about 19 ladies across the world.  We have been sharing thoughts, ideas, and vulnerabilities about stepping out into the world and sharing our wares.  I am sure every artist, in some way, wants to be known and understood and yes, appreciated for her work.  What gives me courage (and empathy) is to know that Van Gogh was never known or appreciated in his time.  Courage because it gives me a go-ahead to persevere even though I may never get recognition.  He did it because he LOVED it.  And THAT is the only reason to do art.  The other part is just "stuff". Nice stuff, granted, but not the end-all, be-all.

I have the luxury to plod along, learning and loving what I do.  If I never sell a painting, I'll be fine.  I'm retired, have an income, and have my children are grown and self-sufficient.  So... it doesn't take a lot for me to be strong.  I call that luxury.
[ Live Life Like you Have Imagined.  Thoreau]

Now, as for practicing courage, that is a pendant hanging in the wings of my brain.  Courage in my art would mean taking steps to put it out there.  I see artists all over the internet of EVERY range of talent, putting it out there and taking risks.  That gives me courage.  Of course, some are masters, which I am not (yet).  But some are everyday artists, like myself, forging a path.

It would take courage for me to:
*     enter a juried art show
*     enter any art show
*     sell my art in public, like at art fairs
*     put my work on Etsy

My first act of courage will be to put some work on Etsy.  I have an Etsy account, which is currently quite empty.  For future reference it is at  My goal is to put some work there by late October of this year.

My Facebook group has agreed to post on a common theme monthly in a "blog circle".  Each of us links to another in the group.  If you follow the links, you make it full circle back to the person you started with.  My person is Kelli Watcherson. You can link to her here.  Go ahead... make a circle.  It will be fun.   And... watch for it.  Once a month, the 3rd Thursday of every month.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Girly Girls

Some new work to share this week!   This first one is an experiment.  I used patterned brown and black Tim Holtz paper to collage her hair.  Funky dude!  The  only other collage elements used were a doily (upper right) , handwritten letter piece, lower left, and one other scrap of writing, center right.  The rest is done in acrylics with a little sculpting mud in the upper left.  Oh yes, and stamping with acrylics.  And some pens and charcoal pencils.    This girl is remembering her youth.   Or is it I that is doing the remembering?  

Here's another pretty face. I'll call her Francoise.  I used acrylics, pens and embellishments.

This one is called "Go for the Dream", a frequent thought while I paint.  What is my dream?  I would love to paint and to have people love my painting so much that they would want to hang it in their home.  That would be so satisfying.  Right now, I paint for myself.  To learn, to experiment, to find my style and then my niche.  My learning curve is at its highest now while I take in all the info in the classes I take and the books I read about mixed media.  Not to mention learning how to blog... Oh, my, my!  The banner heading in itself was a masterpiece of learning.  I think I changed it six times this week alone.  Finally, I was able to get the right size and dimensions and incorporate my own art work AND text into the banner.  I think I like it for now.  And the buttons.  I need to learn how to make MY button into a button you could snag the HTML code to place on your blog.  Woohoo,  would love that.  

As for the girl below, I am trying to decide if I want to keep the oval thingie.  I have not glued it down or the blingy things  (some are even upside down in this photo)  But... I wonder, does it add to the whole or not?  Love your help on this.  

And this.... this was a 5 minute sketch (no model)  in willow vine charcoal.  
I did others too but found that the quick one was the best with this medium.  
If I were younger, I would so date  him.  

So.. that's my work this week.  As always, I appreciate your comments and that you checked in.  An artist's life can be a lonely life without their peeps.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Pacific Northwest fall...

I Love the way...
Sun streams through my window at a horizontal angle
Leaves look hand-dipped in color washes of reds, oranges and greens
Starfish on my windowsill remind me of summer fun with family
Air is warm enough in October to still have the window open
There is music to fit any time, any place and any mood. 
I now have time to enjoy it.  

Friday, September 28, 2012

A busy week

I have to say that retirement for me has not been a time for slacking.  Admittedly, my days are very different than when I was teaching.  I especially love not waking to an alarm clock.  And the glorious September weather we have been experiencing in the Pacific Northwest  for the past 8 weeks is, in itself, a reason to get up singing every morning.  But I have other things to sing about.  Since August, I have signed up for three e-courses all about art.  The first one was a 5 week course (mostly videos, with some written interaction) about using different types of mediums in art.  It was called Supplies Me, by Jane Davenport, a mixed media artist in Australia.   Right up my alley, since I have this huge learning curve going taking in all the new mediums there are to use... like dabbers, spray inks, distressed inks, and who knew that Sharpie has an amazing "Paint" marker?  I love it in white.  You will find Sharpie White Paint marker on everything I do probably (at least in the eyeball area).

The second class is just about to start it's third week.  This is Kelly Rae Roberts Flying Lessons class that will also last about 5 weeks.  In this class she talks about the path she took to becoming a successful artist by using the internet to promote/showcase her work.   Her class in itself has opened doors for me to a HOST of amazing artists from all over the world.  I am now following  artists from Australia, France, Burma!, England, Canada and the US.  Amazingly this e-course has attracted over 650 people.  It doesn't take a genius to do the math.  Could a retired teacher of 30 years find a niche on the internet with e-courses?  Ahhhh!  The opportunities are limitless.
NOT that that is my niche.

In my thirst for knowledge to know everything everyone else knows about mixed media, I have come across a few artists that I particularly like.  One of these is Misty Mawn who happens to also have an e-course called Art Journey.  OK... it's my LAST one for awhile, but I had to sign up.  I haven't had time to do anything except peek, but ooolala... it looks fantastic.  All of these courses are self-paced and though the lessons would take 5 weeks to get through if you worked at it every day, one could take time to get through them.  Which I will do for this class.  I think I may want to BE her.  In fact why don't you take a peek at her website and let me know what you think.    And while you are looking at those links, my other favorite artist is  at PBs Art Studio.  I just bought two of her pieces.  This one called "They all thought she was scandalous" I bought in a print:

And the other one, called Dare to Dream,  I couldn't seem to get a copy of but this is the link to it:
I bought the original of that.  They are IN THE MAIL to me.  So excited!
Cute cute art... perfect for the whimsy of my studio life.

UPDATE:   Just got them in the mail and they are cuter than the pix online.  Thank you Patti Ballard at PBs Art Studio.  Here's the Dare to Dream one.  It is done on a piece of wood.. 4" X 12".

So there you have it... I am very busy with a brand new passion.  Life is good, lovely and mostly kind.

I have been so busy reading posts, blogs, e-course materials and getting my new Facebook "business" page up, that I have not finished a lot of work this week.  But I did finish this one entitled:  Dreaming Exceptionally Large:

Thank you all for your encouragement and wonderful comments.  I appreciate them all!