Thursday, November 26, 2015

Take time to be thankful for the blessings you have been given


So many times in my life I have taken for granted people and things that I deemed important to me.  It’s so easy to do as I, like most people do, carry out the rigors of my day to day life with work, appointments, family responsibilities etc. without giving much thought to how truly fortunate I am.  I’m too “busy” living my life that I sometimes forget to enjoy life.

But today is a day that we should through all the craziness remember that even in difficult times there are many reasons to be grateful for the blessings (even the smallest of ones) that we have in our lives. Today is a day to stop and enjoy good food, enjoy the company of family and friends, and embrace the traditions that shaped our pasts, and will carry forward to the future. 
Today is a day to be thankful for those blessings in your life


I am blessed with so much

A wonderful husband
Two beautiful daughters
A fantastic mom
A generous, supportive and fun group of sewing friends
Good health
A comfortable home
My own studio
A good job
The very best pets in the entire world
And I am grateful to all of you, who read this blog regularly or who have just stumbled upon it.
Thank you and may your Thanksgiving be blessed!!!





Monday, November 9, 2015

What's creating Today - Defining Me

A friend recently introduced me to someone as an artist.  I was sincerely honored by the characterization, but in fairness to true artists, I had to dismiss the use of the label.  I am far from an artist and my rejection of the use of that term to describe me does not come from a poor self- image but rather an honest assessment of my talents.  I am not an artist!  And while I would truly love to be able to use that word to describe myself someday, the simple truth is that I lack the real talent and skill that I think is needed to be truly called an artist in the traditional sense.
This caused me to think however, on how I would describe myself?  What would be an honest characterization of me and the meager talents that I think I do have?

So I picked the most obvious place to start…the dictionary.  First I looked up the definition of the word artist.

Artist - noun art·ist \ˈär-tist\- a person having superior skill or ability in some type of fine art, esp painting, drawing, or sculpture.  A person who displays in his work qualities required in art, such as sensibility and imagination.

              Superior skill or ability in some type of fine art – well, that’s definitely not me

                Do I have the work qualities described? 

                Sensibility – maybe
                                      Imagination – I think I have a decent amount of that

Then I looked up the word Creative

cre·a·tive - [krēˈādiv]


§  relating to or involving the imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of an artistic work:

§   (of a person) having good imagination or original ideas:


§  a person who is creative, typically in a professional context.

Good imagination or original ideas – I don’t think I’m too bad on that front

Creative in a professional context – Definitely not me!

So in just this short amount of research I think my dismissal in using the term "artist" to describe myself is likely justified.   So then how would I define myself?  

If I were to describe myself using the shortest and simplest of terms then perhaps “creative player” is a more accurate label on that point.
But people are far more complex than this, which makes a simple description very lacking in capturing someone’s true nature.  Our lives are usually much fuller and far more complicated than a simple characterization can convey. 
So here’s the longwinded description of my complicated self.
 I AM … (in no particular order)
Blessed with a wonderful family
Creative minded but always striving to be better artistically.
Hopelessly and helplessly in love with my best friend (25 years and going strong), and sad when I have to say goodbye to him every morning.
Completely obsessed with fabric and art quilting
A hockey fanatic (Go Lightning!!!)
A new yogi – and loving it!
A lover of art journaling and postcard swaps
A classic movie junkie  (and must watcher of Hallmark Christmas movies)
Bicycling inclined (I need to find a “I’d rather be cycling bumper sticker”)
A fan of the music and fashion of the 1940’s
Ok about reading but would rather watch TV
Happy to finally have a studio, but sad that I don't get a lot of time to be in it.
I am realistic, stubborn and resourceful.
My mother’s daughter (thanks Mom)
Most importantly
I am not defined by those around me. 
 I am ME and
So how would you describe yourself?  Send me an e-mail or leave a comment and let me know how you define yourself.
Thanks for reading!

Monday, August 31, 2015

What's Creating Today - My postcard collage work flow

Hello Everyone,

My apologies for my absence of late.  We have had a serious health crises in our family which has led to a major shift in the way our family lives now. As bad as things were at the time, we are fortunate and very grateful that by the grace of God we were given a second chance to continue on this wonderful life journey together as a family.  Thank you to all those who have given us their support, well wishes and prayers during these challenging times. Life around here is returning to what we know now as the "new normal", and I appreciate your patience and understanding.  Now on to happier creative thoughts!

As I mentioned in my last blog post I recently participated in iHanna's DIY postcard swap.  I love participating in these art swaps because it gives me an opportunity to do some creative play with paper and mixed media collage.  And while there is no limitation on the type of art you can create for the swap, other than it being postcard size, I chose to collage my postcards.  I have done this particular swap a few times now and after making roughly 30 postcards for it, I began to notice that there were similar traits in all my cards.  On even further reflection I realized that the similar traits were due to a simplified approach and work flow to the creative process I used to make my collaged cards.  This simplified approach is my comfort zone, a starting point in which I can build off of when later I’m doing larger works in my art journals or even canvas wall hangings.  So here’s my go to formula for making colorful, vintage, girly postcard collages:

Step 1:  I start with a busy but simple background.  I like to use maps, dictionary pages, sheet music, newspapers or magazines (foreign and domestic), the white pages or any papers with script.  Scrapbooking, Origami or wrapping paper also make for great backgrounds.  For something a little more personal especially in art journals, I keep a small stack of my daughters returned homework, old greeting cards, postcards or old shopping lists.  I also like to use found items like travel brochures, recipe cards from the grocery store, and even discarded corrugated cardboard.


I start by tearing off large pieces of the background papers, usually 3 -5 different background papers and glue them down overlapping the edges of the papers to add some texture.  Also I typically glue my background papers down so that they overhang the sides and trim them down later which I think gives the background an even more random collage look.  The great thing about this is that if I’m not happy with the background, I can keep adding more visual interest by adding more bits of background papers.  Other things you can try are to stamp over the existing background. I like using word stamps, flourishes, texture stamps or border stamps.  However depending on the types of papers already laid down its better to use stamps that will complement those papers not detract from them.  For example if I have papers with words, I would choose a flourish or texture stamp.  In addition you can also try doodling, rub-on elements or stencils to add more visual interest.  Remember there is no right or wrong, only what you are happy with.


Step 2:  Once I am satisfied with the background, I glue this down.  For paper collages I like to use the Elmers Extreme Glue sticks or a gel medium, either Golden or Liquitex.  I used to use the Scotch craft glue sticks but found that while the initial adhesion on these was good, over time some of the glue would weaken.  I then trim away all the overhanging pieces of paper.

Step 3:  Next I search for a focal point image.  I like to choose images that are the opposite of what was used for a background in terms of color.  For example if I used mostly muted or pastels on the background I will choose an image that is of bolder colors, black and white or monochromatic.  I usually choose images of people or animals.  The image depending on size can be left as is or detail cut.  I DO NOT glue down the focal point image yet because I generally add some other interesting imagery around it as described in Step 4.
For this card I chose to detail cut the image below

Step 4:  Choose additional visual imagery to enhance the foreground which work to compliment the focal point image and then to draw the eye around the rest of the postcard.  I like images of flowers, clocks, postage ephemera, birds, butterflies and even buildings. Patterned Washi tapes, parts of playing cards, ticket stubs and even images found on junk mail work well here.  Again I'm still playing with the exact layout so I don’t glue anything down yet.

I really liked the burst of color from the flowers so I detail cut them.

Step 5:  Inevitably in cutting magazines, brochures or other sources of imagery I’m always left with a ton of little scraps.  I have a habit of going through my magazines and brochures when I’m working on a card, and just pulling out pages that have a focal picture that appeals to me, but very rarely do I use the whole page or the whole image.  And since I also do a lot of detail cutting of smaller images from bigger ones, I also make sure I save the little scraps that are leftover until I am done with a project and will not be in need of them.  Little scraps of paper can act like a ribbon embellishment when working with fabric.  By taking a closer look at the pages of the source material you will be amazed at what can be so easily overlooked.  Flourishes, doodles, emblems, thumbnails or logos are just some of what you can find by taking a closer look at source materials you can use for your collages.  Even scraps with texture images cut into slivers and included around edges or around your focal point image can help move the eye even more around the whole piece.  

For this card I chose a scrap that would add another pop of color, one that looked like planked wood and a small image of a half of a compass.
Step 6 –  I won’t deny that I am a big perfectionist, so it should be no surprise when I admit that I will layout my collage arrangement and rework it many, many times before I glue anything down.  Only until I am truly satisfied will I glue the focal point image and any additional images or embellishing imagery down.

Here is he card after everything is laid out an glued down.
Step 7:  Include a message - Whether it be something short and sweet or a favorite quote I almost always include some sort of message when I create a collaged postcard.  Sometimes I print and cut them out, sometimes I use ones I’ve found in magazines or I use preprinted word stickers to create messages.  Tim Holtz makes a great book called Small Talk stickers that has lots of different words that come in black, white and kraft paper versions for you to create a custom message.   Depending on the message I may even stamp them out using a mini stamp set.  Mini wooden font stamp sets are very inexpensive at Michaels in the scrapbooking section or in their dollar section.  They are usually thrown in with the small acrylic stamps and can usually be found in different fonts in upper or lower case letters.
Tim Holtz Small Talk stickers


and here is the postcard all done.

Some final thoughts on good imagery and background materials and where to find it.   Since I do a lot of Art Journaling I have a very large image library.  Much to my husband’s chagrin I am very bad about “collecting” things and not throwing anything out.  Last year when we moved I was forced to get rid of the stacks of magazines I had lying around, but not without scouring through them for any and all imagery that caught my eye.  All those stacks of magazines have been reduced to one very large file.  But what if you don’t have an image file, where do you go to find imagery.  Here are some of my suggestions:

Magazines - I find some great imagery in magazines like Daphne’s Diary, Somerset Digital Studio, Stampington’s Artful Blogging, Stampington’s Artist’s Café and Watercolor Artist.  The price tag for most of these magazines is pretty steep as magazines go (about $15.00 each) so I wouldn't choose these unless you like to read them.  I will typically by a Somerset Digital Studio magazine once every two years or so then go to town destroying them for the imagery only.  Other not so expensive magazines work well too.  I like The Knot (bridal magazine), Southern Living and Harper's Bazaar.  For the more frugal of journalers AAA members receive a free magazine every month which I love for imagery, but going online and requesting catalogs from Pier One, Anthropologie, and Pottery Barn can also reap great finds too.   
Bargain Books - I once thought it was a sacrilege but now for me it’s nothing to buy books from the bargain book section at my local book store just for the purpose of scavenging imagery or text from them.  Charity or thrift stores along with book sales at your local library can also yield great resources for imagery and background papers like from old atlases and encyclopedias etc.  Our local library even gives away old magazines like National Geographic from time to time.   
“Unconventional” resources to use for background papers -  yellow or white pages, old calendars, catalogs, old user/owner’s manuals, newspapers, junk mail and even labels from food packaging can be fun. 

A note about food packaging - Because of the risk of foodborne illness, do NOT use any packaging that has touched food directly or is suspected to have come in contact with food directly/.  Never use packaging from meats, egg, dairy or fresh vegetables of any kind. Labels from bottles, cans or boxed goods are usually safe but examine everything carefully.  If it looks suspicious do not use it.  Some foodborne illness don't necessarily have to be consumed to make someone sick. Always side with caution. 

On the Road - If you are like me and bring an Art Journal and some art supplies while travelling, then you know that taking a large image library is not generally an option.   When I collage or Art Journal on the road I make it a point to not bring imagery with me.  Traveling is a great opportunity to collect great source materials and imagery.  When I’m traveling I keep on the lookout for travel brochures, local street maps, ticket stubs and menus or other guides or literature about the place you are visiting.  Once my husband even brought me home a Japanese newspaper that he found abandoned at an airport while he was traveling.  It’s amazing what great imagery you can get for free when you travel. I even collected fantastic imagery of animals from a small publication that was freebie at a convention center where they were having a quilting convention.  To my husband's dismay I tend to come home with a lot of useful additions for my stash when I travel.
It's easy to fall into the trap of buying a lot of materials for art journaling and collage but there is so much out there that you can use that is free or very low cost.  Sometimes it's just a matter of looking at things in different ways.
 I hope this glimpse into my collage work flow helps to guide and inspire you to create your own collaged works as well.  I would love to see your work and hear about your "go-to" formula for your creative work flow.  Please feel free to e-mail me any pictures or words of wisdom on your collage processor.  Of if you just want to leave a comment and let me know if this process works for you please contact me at  Thanks for reading!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

What's Creating Today!

Hi Everyone!   I hope you enjoyed my last post on the cards I created for iHanna's DIY Postcard swap.  As promised today I'm showing off the wonderful cards I have received so far.  All the cards that greeted me in my mailbox were so beautiful and very inspiring.  Each was delightfully unique and has motivated me to try new techniques and materials, and encouraged me to use some old favorites in new ways.  I can't thank all those who sent me cards enough. I feel so blessed to have gotten such gorgeous pieces of art from such talented ladies.
On to the fabulous cards I received though:
This first one I received was created by Arielle from Baltimore, Maryland
Arielle used a stamping technique she learned about on Alisa Burke's website.  I am a big fan of Alisa's work too, so I'm looking forward to trying this technique as well.  Great job!!!
The next card was created by Elizabeth from Edinburgh, Scotland
Elizabeth told me she used her love of poetry, Washi Tape and Origami to create her card. I have lots of Washi tape but strangely don't use it much.  Elizabeth has inspired me to pull it out and incorporate it more into my own work.  Nicely done!!!
The next card was created by Cynthia from Jacksonville, Florida
Cynthia incorporated elements into her cards that were really in tune to the types of cards I create.  Text backgrounds, fun colors, nature imagery and of course a message to share, which to me rang so true.  A beautiful piece of work!!!
 My next card was created by Ellen of Williamsburg, Virginia
Ellen also incorporated bright fun colors in her postcard and I love the way she outlined the different parts of her collage to really make them pop.  Ellen also included a wonderful quote from Carl Jung in her note:  "Often the hands will solve a mystery that the intellect has struggled with in vain."   Very inspiring!!!
This next card was created by Eileen from Southern California
I love Eileen's stamped background in softer tones, it really makes the red of the hearts pop.  Eileen has inspired me to try using more stamping in my backgrounds.  Wonderful job!!!
This next card was created by Sandra - (no hometown given)
This card is really stunning with its colorful stenciled background and the way it makes the black and white birds really stand out.  Really beautifully done!!!

The next card I received was from Seattle, Washington and it was created by Gwen
This was such a wonderfully colorful and whimsical abstract card.   I love the color scheme.  And I love the stamped image so cleverly incorporated that is almost like a hidden treasure.  Very beautiful!!!
The last card I received so far was created by Urshka from Krsko, Slovenia.
This amazing card was simple and elegant.  I love the colorfully woven design pattern.  And I especially love how it was affixed to a corrugated Kraft paper.  Truly elegant!!! 
 I'm still waiting on 2 more postcards and hope they will come soon.
I hope you have enjoyed the cards.  Come back soon where I will be sharing my collage work flow process.  Thanks for dropping by.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

What's Creating Today - 2015

For the last few months I have been "sew" single minded in the studio.  My focus of late has been working on many of my art quilting projects, and making items for my Etsy store. And while it was nice to take a creative break from doing any art journaling or mixed media art, I didn't realize how much I had missed it until I got the e-mail about iHanna's spring DIY postcard swap.  I always look forward to the swap because it gives me a chance to experiment creatively and share my discoveries with others.  And the best part is that in return I get wonderful postcards from others which always delight and inspire me.  I received so many wonderful cards from all over the world this swap and I am looking forward to sharing those with you in my next post.

First though I thought I would share the postcards I created for the swap.  My approach to this swap, as was to the last swap, was to work on my collage art.  I love collage.  I love combining imagery in layers and how in doing so it can convey hidden in "plain sight" meaning and message.  And what I especially love about collage is the ease in which I can drop in and out of creating one without worrying about being able to pick up where I left off in the creative flow.  Too many times when I am ready to sit down and art journal, my brain gets in the way of the creative process.  Thinking and planning a journaling layout for me often creates a mental and creative block to getting anything done on the page.  With collage there is no thinking or planning, just layering.

So onto the cards:

The above was the first card I made.  And after I finished making it I photographed it, which I did after every card I made for the swap.  I learned from quilting that sometimes your perspective is skewed by looking down at something lying on a table.  In quilting when dealing with larger applique pieces that are still in progress and cannot be hung on a design wall, taking a photo of the piece often gives you a different perspective that can be valuable in your layout.  It also helps you to make observations in a general sense on how your work is progressing, or analyze things you have already done.  In looking at the photos of the cards I made I began to see trends in my work.  Here is what I observed (in no particular order):

Observation 1 -   I mostly work with images and backgrounds in pastel or brighter colors.

Observation 2 - I use a lot of vintage imagery that is thought provoking.

Observation 3 - I usually include a message.
Observation 4 - I use a lot of little scraps.

Observation 5 - I do a lot of detail cutting.

Observation 6 - My cards almost always have a very decidedly feminine feel.

Observation 7 - I love to use a script stamp on backgrounds or incorporate them on little scraps.

Observation 8 - I almost always include flowers, butterflies or birds.

I hope you enjoyed looking at my cards.  Feel free to leave your comments, they are always appreciated.  Look for my next blog post coming soon on the cards I received for the postcard swap. 
Thanks for stopping by!
Happy Creating!