Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Attempting to Perservere!

I will be out of town for longer than anticipated, but, ever the artiste, I have been working on a few small creative endeavors!  My mother has fallen and broken her shoulder, so while I have been driving her insane with my concern, I have also been doing a bit of sketching, and have almost finished a small painting.  It certainly helps to focus my mind a bit during the quiet moments, and I am learning that art can really be a sort of meditation and calming influence during those times when you are near to panic.  I had once considered art therapy as a vocation, and I can see that it would have been a really viable choice.  Because I don't have access to my photos, other than the few I brought along, I will share with you a collaboration:  my husband carved this wonderful ostrich egg, and I painted the hummingbird in metallic paints.  Look for an upcoming picture of my soon-to-be-finished latest painting of an iris, when I can  figure out how to download onto an unfamiliar system! For those who know and love my creative mother, she is hanging in there, and will soon be having surgery...she is curious to find out if magnets will stick to her once she has the metal plate put in her shoulder. She is such a trooper!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Journal Class A Hit!

Happily, the Altered Book Nature Journal Class was a hit.  It was such a positive experience for me and I hope for the students involved.  I always find that in teaching, I learn so much more from my students than they can possibly learn from me!  Everyone did such unique and different work, and they had great ideas.  One of my students brought an ancient textbook from the late 1800's, and splashed black paint on the pages, then mounted all of her black and white photos of landscapes on them.  She also glued large pressed flowers to the pages and covered them with wax paper.  In the top photo you will see that one of my students decorated the front of her book with leaves and acorn caps as well as a photo from an old calender.  Inside she mounted photos that she framed with twine and feathers, as well as wasp nests.  All in all it was a fun Saturday spent creating.  I was incredibly inspired by all of the enthusiasm, and the feeling of excitement generated by learning something new.  What a wonderful experience!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


I will be gone for a week, so send good thoughts for the Altered Book Nature Journal class.  With my  'Progress Report'  foremost on my mind, I am setting a few art goals while I am away.  I plan to bring a canvas with me, and paint something ...I am not sure what.  My sketchbook will come with me, of course.  Also, the area has some delightful art galleries, and I hope to get a bit of inspiration by seeing what others are inspired by. 
I have an upcoming art show in June that has the theme of Missouri Nature, and I will be doing a bit more research on some mushroom-inspired paintings that I plan on finishing.  I have a partial painting done of a Morel mushroom, and want to do 2 more companion pieces to go with it, but haven't yet chosen the subject mushrooms!  Better get busy with that.  I also want to paint two more in a series of miniature butterfly paintings.
See you in one week!

"As you walk and eat and travel, be where you are.  Otherwise you will miss most of your life."                      ---Buddha---


It has been 2 months since I began this blog, and I must remind myself of why I started...to encourage the creative process and progress in my amount and quality of painting.
I am pleased with part of my progress...I see where I am being creative.  I am starting to find out WHEN I am at my most productive, so that I can start to structure my days better.  However, I can also see that I am leaning heavily on past creations, and need to step up my productivity a LOT!  I don't know how any of you out there do it!  Are you focused, and schedule your day?  Do you tune out the distractions? This is where I really fall down as an artist.  The truly obsessed artists that I know are constantly trying new things, are excited about what is coming next, and can't NOT create.  I still find myself at that tentative stage...afraid of greeting that blank canvas, and not really sure what I want to paint, or communicate.
I was told by a long-time artist and teacher that if I don't communicate with the viewer, I am wasting my time,  and my painting is a failure no matter how pretty it is.  That stopped me dead in my tracks for weeks! 
So I will focus on the positive points...I have learned so much the past 2 months of blogging, and feel that I am on the brink of a real breakthrough in my art.  I am starting to understand what I want to accomplish visually, what I want to say with my art, and where I want to go with it.  That is a 30 year bonanza in my mind!  Knowing that I can blog it out, put it down in words as well as pictures is helping everything to come together. 
I look for great things ahead...or a lot of little things.  Progress is progress!

"I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship."
                                                             ---Louisa May Alcott

Monday, March 21, 2011


Sometimes art is just for living and observing...who could say more than these flowers?  Maybe sometime I will try to come close to this artistry and put these beautiful colors together in a painting.  But for right now, I am loving Nature's composition and pallette!

Sunday, March 20, 2011


I love working in pen and ink!  For some reason, that medium more than any other works for me.  I was traveling for a few days this week, and you know how you miss your own TV, garden, and STUFF! so I was glad that I had brought along my sketchbook and Pilot pen to play with.  These two sketches were the best of the bunch, so I wanted to share them with you.  I loved the Grey Owl's eyes...so deep and interesting!

Thursday, March 17, 2011


Another first for this artist!  I have entered my first online challenge ever, and I wanted to include you all in the experience.  The Challenge Topic is "Tender is the Night", and I immediately thought of my Heron painting, as it was to me the most tender of vigils.  The Great Blue Heron is standing vigil over his nest while his mate is off hunting, and he is very serious and determined to guard his unborn brood.  The painting is called "Nighttime Vigil" and I painted it after a fishing trip to Minnesota, where I watched him come and go over the lake for a week.  He showed up every morning on the docks, and watched us prepare for our early morning fishing, and every evening he winged back to his nest to stand guard.  You can visit the sight and see all of the entries at the following link:

I am especially proud to be a part of this challenge, as I admire the website "Artists Challenge" a great deal.  I have been watching them, and they have exceptionally high ethics and a real purpose in supporting artists.
I look forward to being a part of it as well.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


I have been working on an Altered Art Nature Journal for several months now, in preparation to teaching a class on the various techniques March 26, at the Missouri  Nature Education Center in Cape Girardeau.  I am close to getting done, and wanted to share some of my hard work.  I spent 3 days getting all of the dried oak leaves onto the front of an old animal encyclopedia volume. I soaked the tried leaves overnight to make sure they were supple, then started layering them on.  Mod Podge is a life saver!  I cut a hole through the front of the cover in order to place a hand painted stone owl in for decoration.  I also used a cotton fabric to bind the book in place of a disintegrating spine.  I have made templates for pockets, sewn pages together with twine, and glued feathers and trim into a frame for poetry.  I did a few illuminated letters to begin some of my journaling, and struggled madly with a variety of adhesives.  I learned some valuable lessons, such as 'start out with a quality paper book', and 'don't cheap out on the glue.  Get the best.'  The really fun part of the whole project was the journaling, however.  I wrote about learning how to fish and the trials of catching eels and bullfrogs.  I wrote about my encounter with my first opossum....I thought it was an incredibly huge rat!  I put pressed flowers from my own wildflower garden in the book, along with prints from my own paintings.  This was a fun project, start to finish, and I learned a lot about living artfully through doing it.  If you have done some journaling of your own, and learned what works, or better yet, what DOESN'T and would like to share, please comment.  We would all love to know more!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Meadowlark has to be one of the most joyful birds!  It throws back its head and bursts into song, and the delightful trilling up-and-down sound just puts you in a good mood.  I spent several years living in the prairie states of the U.S.... Wyoming, Montana, South and North Dakota, and  I spent a lot of time in Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska.  The Meadowlark is one of the dominant birds in these areas, and you couldn't get out in nature without hearing it.  Because it has lovely design in feather and form, I chose to draw it on scratchboard, and I am quite pleased with the result. 
I also decided to do a pen and ink drawing as well.  All of the reference photos that I took of this bird showed it singing, mouth open every time.  I couldn't get a picture with it just sitting still, minding its own business.  My husband says that this is why I identify with the bird.  Hmmm!

Friday, March 11, 2011


Is it just me that gets excited when entering an office supply store?!  I LOVE art supplies, pens, sidewalk chalk, and funky paper clips!  An entire world of possibilities opens up when I see a box of crayons.  You rarely see a grumpy person in Hobby Lobby.  They are all wandering around with a dazed, starry-eyed look, pointing to the paint and making "Ooooo!" sounds.  We become children again when it comes to art supplies.  I have always used acrylics to paint with, but I came across oil paints in a store one day that had such a good price tag that I HAD to get some, and discovered the joy of painting in that medium.  I found a djaunting (and I KNOW that I spelled that wrong) tool, and was so intrigued that I learned how to do batikking just so that I could use it. I have more kinds of pens than I will ever be able to use in a lifetime, simply because they were too irresistible to pass up.  I could probably open up a supply store myself, but I couldn't bear to part with any one of them.  It is an addiction.  A curse. What is your favorite thing to look for in an art supply store?  Do you have every brush that they have ever made?  Or every shape of canvas you can find?  Do you have so many colors of beads that you will never be able to use them all?  Be truthful...I am not the only one who has to buy just one more pencil!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Bay St. Louis, MS Artist
There was a funky little art gallery in Bay St. Louis, MS before Katrina days, that featured the local artists, and I fell in love with a piece that I call a Memory Frame. The artist took basic stretcher bars, and glued all manner of jewelry all over it, and put in a mirror. I don't recall the artist, and she never signed the piece that I bought, but I fell in love with the concept and decided to make one with my own memories.  I chose an nine by eleven set of stretcher bars and painted them chocolate brown.  I then picked out my 'memories', jewelry from when I was a child, one earring left from my wedding day, a broken handle from a tea cup I had as a child, a chain from my daughters' first necklace...and I epoxied the heck out of it all!  I must have gone through 2 tubes of epoxy, making sure that none of my memories fell off!  I liked the frame so well that I never did put a picture or mirror in.  I hope you like it, too.  Every time I look at it, I smile, and think of all the good little bits in life that we can make into something special.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Today I was inspired to work with watercolor pencils and pens...MUSHROOM DAY!  I love fungi, there are just so many shapes and colors.  I decided to work in miniature, so I drew a full watercolor page of 9 mushrooms.  It is so interesting to draw with the colored pencil, and then see the color come alive when you touch water to it!  I chose some of my favorite mushrooms, some of which grow in our yard.  Then I decided to make it all into a tiny book...it is 3 inches by 3 inches.  It is so much fun to just play occasionally, and not take yourself too seriously.

An Eye to the Truth...

Eyes are the windows to the soul...I was doodling yesterday, and trying out my Pitt Brush Pens.  I wanted to see how much nuance and expression I could get drawing just one eye.  What do YOU think that she is saying?

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Rainy days are meant for sipping tea and thinking about your favorite people.  I love you all!


My trip to the coast and an early spring brought on an attack of allergies, which in turn heralded the worst cold of the year.  What does this mean creatively?  Well, of course I was too muddle-headed to think of much, so I did my favorite quiet thing, which was to look up quotes to inspire me.  Well, someone was trying to tell me something!  I found quotes aplenty on the subject of procrastination!  I do tend to let excuses get in the way of my creativity, mainly because of fear.
"The greatest mistake you can make is to continually fear you will make one."
So, while I was sniffling, sneezing and self-medicating with chamomile tea and honey, I read quotes like:
      "To rest is to RUST!"
and     "If you are not committed to something, you are just taking up space."
Even more brow-beating:     "Man's ability is usually rated by what he finishes, and not by what he starts."
and     "Success is a result, not a goal."
My favorite? "We have two ends with a common link.
                       With one you sit, with one you think.
                        Success depends on which one you use.
                        Heads you win, tails you lose."
Well, of course this was guaranteed to put me into a self-flagellating tizzy.  I thought of all the ideas that I have had that were brilliant, and that I shot down with excuses.  All of the paintings that I meant to start, and family crises got in the way.  All of the FUN I could have been having, all of the virtuous feelings of accomplishment I could have had.  What was keeping me from accomplishing great things?!
"If you can't do great things, do small things in a great way."
"Happiness is not a destination, but a method of traveling."
"There are three kinds of people: those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who have no idea what happened."
I tried to encourage myself with quotes, but I ran into this one that stopped me dead in my tracks:   "There is no smaller package than a man who is totally wrapped up in himself."     Whoa!  Deeeeeeeeep!  Existential, even.  I was over-thinking it all, AGAIN!  Face it.  I was just being lazy and fearful of not being perfect.  As small as that, and no excuse at all.
So, what is this blog all about, after all?  Encouraging myself to get off my tail and get to painting, get to expressing my life with a visual journal and possibly impact others with my vision.
"When there is no way out, the way UP is still open."
Look for more activity on the creative front, people!  If you have words of encouragement, I will embrace them, and take them to heart.  If you have words of helpful critique, I will be grateful.  If you have similar defeatist problems, let us try to get through them together.
"The most drastic and usually the most effective remedy for fear is direct action."
                                                                     ---Wm. Burnham

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


On the hunt for a peaceful moment, my husband and I headed south to the Gulf Coast for a few days.  What a difference a few hundred miles makes in weather!  While it was cold and tempestuous here in Tennessee, it was mild, warm and spring in Mississippi.  We chose a little bed and breakfast in Ocean Springs, and I was thrilled to see several camellia trees in the yard.  In full bloom!  We were only half a block from the ocean, and we spent our time walking the beach, picking up a few oyster shells, and enjoying the warm breezes.  I bought some watercolor pencils to play with, and brought my favorite Pilot pen to do some sketching.  I am inspired to do a painting of the Laughing Gull, a striking black and white seagull that flings it's head straight back to laugh when it calls out.  I saw the most amazing Brown Pelican that was posing on a post in the water...he actually had some green algae growing on his feathers.  I wonder if he is the Couch Potato of the bird world, or if algae grows on anything that sits down for a few moments. 

"Don't wait for your ship to come in - swim out to it!"                 ---Anon