Monday, December 26, 2011

Birthday Collage Blossomed at the Women's Retreat

This is an annual tradition that I have taken to doing for my birthday. You know how you never want to throw away (well, at least I do) those precious birthday cards and personal comments from your friends? To save those, I have been doing a colorful collage from the cards to commemorate their thoughtful endorsements.

This year I'd saved a portion of the page to do my collage during my upcoming "Women's Journaling Alpine Retreat". I knew one of the exercises my brilliant tandem teacher, Jean Warren, was planning, the "Cut-up Memory Walk" would be perfect for my birthday process. So the instructions were to go outside, without notepad or camera, only your senses to focus on the diverse impressions nature offers up. Then, return to the workspace to replicate or comment with collage what you'd experienced outside. When I went outside, I settled upon a tiny plot of land, just down from the cabin and bordered by the parking lot. As I nestled in to observe, first I noticed the deep dark shadows that actually created the visuals of the rocks, then emerged an entire lil' ecosystem. There were ants and beetles busying between rocks and dirt, then, bees all among the blossoming flowers. As I buried my thoughts in this balanced, beautiful interaction, I began thinking of my loving, supportive friends who provide just such a thriving environment for my life. I saw the parallels and metaphors between this tiny Alpine world and my life. Just as I was memorized in deep appreciation and awe, I was brought back to the current moment with an intense aroma . . . our fabulous Chef Izzy Leas, was busy at work in the kitchen simmering a rich curry meal for dinner. My senses were fascinated . . . so this is the scene I took into the studio to depict in collage - from my birthday cards.

Creating items to combine for the collage was first. I began cutting up the cards, words or florals or shapes for shadows etc. I'd collected this delicate grass, with seeds still attached and (from a hike my hubby & puppy had taken for my actual birthday day) brought along the limey-colored moss. I worked up the rocks first with texture, and cut out shadows. Words cut in long, stem-like shapes became the stems for dancing flowers and from fabric I cut out the brilliant sun! It was a delicious frenzy of stuff . . . I'd also picked up this cool piece of bark that looked SO much like a fish - and that sparked the memory of some teeny lil' critters one of the fun participants, Cookie, had offered up to share - and one critter was a tiny fish. Looking thru the critters, I grabbed the fish and spied a moose. Ok, I'll add mountains and the moose too!!! Grief, now how could I add the curry floating thru the air - - ahhhhhhhhhh - - with golden yellow thread threaded thru the air. And - - WELLAH - I think I'm done with my "Cut-up Memory Walk"!

The remainder of my favored birthday card images traveled to the right, creating a segway over into the second page where I'd sketched my vision from an art showing I'd done the evening of my actual birthday day. It's an active, but memory filled page . . . and actually visually pretty satisfying.

Love to hear how you celebrate your birthday in your journal or painting . . .

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Kids in Creek ~ Playful Journal Page Demo

The was a fun assignment I gave myself. So, of course, I chose one of my favorite and most playful images. This happy image came from a combining of several photos from children playing in the Ashland Lithia Park Creek. I was doing a purely demo class, illustrating some of the techniques we'd be using at my upcoming Women's Journaling Alpine Retreat, hoping to entice anyone interested.

To prepare for the class, I did start early. I applied some "Light Molding Paste", a medium by Golden to add dimension to the upper green leaves (see the dimension in this angled photo?). With this product you can build up absorbant layers. I've never used more than one layer, since I'm primarily working in my journal, but it is fun, flexible and dries spongy yet, holds shapes. I tried to replicate some leaf-like textures in the upper left and top of the image.

I'd created the stamp earlier too, thinking "what would the children be playing with?". I loved the simplicity of the toy boat and specifically selected colors of joy and colors that would unite the entire double-page spread of my open journal. I did apply the stamps very last to my page, when I could see where my text ended and how much visual space I had.

When class finally conviened, I worked from the large blown up image, so the class could see from what I was working. First, I establish the whites, with my wax crayons, that are to be solid or rather scumbled in effect for the water reflections and some on the highlights of rocks. Next, I work in strong yellows to add glow behind the leaves and the brilliant colors of the clothing. While some of the yellow is still moist, I begin dropping in leaf colors in that Molding Paste area. Only when the yellow is dry do I glaze in delicate transparent layers of orange and pink of the children's outfits. And thirdly, I work up the water, it's reflections (cuz I already have those greens on my palette), rock detail and lastly, the final touchs to the wee-ones playing.

I loved the effect of everything together, feeling it absolutely represented the spirit I felt when I was watching those silly kids parade and play in the creek, coupled with the outrageousness of my Elinor page (see previous post). What you think?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

To Celebrate and Emulate ~ Elinor Peace Bailey

Some of you may have heard the serendipitous tale of how I met this amazing woman ~ Elinor Peace Bailey (although I believe she prefers "elinor peace bailey"). While taking a writing class, you often receive "writing prompts". This was the visual I picked. Isn't it just a riot? That "write" was one of my most fun and frivolous ever ~ but that's another story.

With this image in hand, I noticed the woman's name in the corner and proceeded to "google" her. I emailed her letting her know how I admired her spirit and (since I love to tandem teach) even suggested doing a class or possible retreat together sometime.
We actually talked on the phone and she volunteered to mail me her very own personal journal (YES, she journals too!! HOW exciting is this?). Even when I tried to refuse her journal, she shipped it anyway. Her journal blew me away. Bold, playful, bodacious, personal, sensitive and profound - - and more. She privileged me more by allowing me to take her journal for my Women's Journaling Alpine Retreat's participants to explore. Such trust!

And NOW - we have scheduled a tandem-taught 3-day Workshop, July 12-14th, of next year in Portland. We're still in the planning stages, but looks like we'll meet Wednesday night, July 11th, to go over materials and rub shoulders. First full day, will be all Elinor's in her Portland Studio and second day, mine - up on the Columbia River Gorge. Final day - a combo and summation. For upcoming promotions we have started teaming up in a journal - here's one of the pages she's sent me which she started in only black and white pen work. I've added all the color. The class will be a hoot!! Let me know if you are interested in updates and details!

But in the midst of meeting and getting to know this jubilant, dynamic woman I had to create a journal page in an attempt to emulate and honor her. So here's my page with a shot at her "in-journal" doll/people portraits (p.s. the legs, feet, arms and hands move as they are attached to the page with tiny brads). The wacky fuzzy fabric so gave life to this portrait and I used an existing stamp I'd made for his head. I still may add some furry hair . . . and yes, those are buttons for hands! Another detail from Elinor! And then, of course, I had to record one of my favorite journal pages from Elinor's. This is my best replica . . . but by no means as bold or brilliant! It's a happy, playful page . . . it seems she brings that out in me and I'm enjoying it.

I just so savor meeting and digging into the intriguing spirits and talents and personalities of other women artists (sorry guys). There's an honesty and a freshness that bounds out of established, powerful creativity that moves me to the core - - my solar plexus tighten and heave, near to tears. I'm so honored to see and feel that baring of soul . . . it's truly a privilege. And I remain humble.

P.S. Happy Thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Mistakes Stirring Invention

Any of you who journal, or paint, or create . . . Oh heck . . . if you're alive . . . know we make errors! And one of my greatest joys in the spontaneity of journaling is the way our creative minds show us solutions (and some, better than the original plan!). These next couple of pages are examples of exactly that!

Those of you familiar with the progress of my previous journal page with the fun paperclay 3-d frame, know my plan now would include leaving the following journal page blank where I needed to place my big letter "B". Right?

So immediately, the next day I went onsite with a private student venturing out into her first plein air adventure . . . and you guessed it! Where did I paint? Right in the space I needed to save. Here's the gurgling Lithia Park Creek, sitting right where I wanted to have white space. I fretted and pondered about cutting out the image, inserting a full page and on and on.

Rather than add a full page, I decided insert a small, almost "footnote like" page with, of course, my big "B" the first item on the lil' page. Next to my "B" I practiced a print from a self-portrait tile I'd recently carved. I like printing two times, yellow first to add warmth to the human skin then, a darker color (here, I've used Brown Madder). On the back of my mini-page, I found this beautiful business card from a peer watercolorist, Marni Marnee (, complimented all the colors on these pages. And I added how we'd met when she pass thru the Ashland Art Center where my studio is.

I continued my journal sequentially, with the sketch from a "Plein Air Workshop" I was teaching. Top left on the full page, is a sketch of my dear painter friend, Silvia Trujillo (, (who'd instructed the oil students) posing her hand to crop a portion of a student's painting during critique. Farther down the page is one of my watercolor students busy at work.

So I can attest to the fact that mistakes can make me more creative and inventive. Honestly, I have to say I've not gotten to the point where I celebrate errors, but I DO aim to get there some day. Another goal to aim at . . . it keeps me going and getting more comfy with myself.

I suggest "Celebrate Your Errors!"?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

New Journal ~ Starring Paper Clay

Ok, so, after my informative and experiential class with Cathy Dorris (the "Queen of PaperClay"), I'm ready to get started in my brand-spankin' new journal.

My first plan is to use the "frame" I've created out of paperclay to frame my "illuminated letter" with which I start my page entries. I'm so in love with stitching things into my journal - that of course that's how I plan to insert my paperclay frame. I did push a small hole into the edges of the paperclay before I dried and painted it - but when I try to pull a threaded needle thru my teeny holes - I find the holes are too small. I once again work thru a pin to enlarge my holes, and in the process, tear the edges of the paperclay. I use my "Yes" glue to gently glue it back together, then let dry. Finally I get my "frame" stitched into place with brown button-hole twist. I liked how it accented the brown undertones in my paperclay piece.

I love how the frame boarders my letter and move on to elaborate more about the paper clay process (and actually, to honor my paperclay teacher). So I replicate, as best I can, Cathy Dorris' marvelous "Mermaid" piece and then, her "Ram's Head". I'm pretty happy with the page layout, but still find myself scratching my head, pondering how to invite readers and introduce them with my very beginning page.

BING!!! I remembered another fascinating yet, delicate piece from Cathy's Studio that would "dance" my viewers into this new journal. Cathy makes these charming wall dolls with playful metal hooks attaching their arms, legs and feet. I'd portray those happy, colorful feet, tap, tap, tappin' right into my new journal.

This set of pages just brings a smile to my face ~ playful, joyful and elegant. Love to hear your impressions - oh, and any questions you have about paperclay!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

In Preparation for a New Journal ~ Paper Clay

Usually, I don't put alot of effort into planning a new journal ~ but this one I had something new and exciting (for me anyway): paper clay!! For me it's one of the coolest media on the planet right now. If you've worked with polymer clay you know the succlent colors and diverse things you can do with it, right? Well, as far as I'm concerned, paper clay is even more perfect as it doesn't require baking and it's completely organic! Yep, it's safe/good for our planet!

With this idea of incorporating paper clay into my journal, I took a private class from the Queen of Paper Clay (again, in my estimation!), Cathy Dorris ( She's warm, playful and an endless source of info on paper clay. Both of these pieces, the mermaid and ram's head are pieces from Cathy's studio. Doesn't she do fabulous work? So, here's the mess I created in just a couple hours in her studio and here's the resulting small pieces Cathy coached me in making.

You'll have to tune in for the next blog post to see what adventures I created with these lil objects. It's pretty diverse media - I encourage you to check it out for additons to your journals, your 2d paintings and heck, even sculpture!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Journal Ends ~ Rocks 'n Mountains

When the ending of one journal comes ~ I like to close with a quiet image but lofty thoughts. This particular two page spread does just that.

These two images were created in sheer joy. Working, well, more like play actually with my dear friend who pays me the compliment of taking private watercolor lessons from me had requested we work on rocks and mountains. Two of my all time favorites (maybe along with clouds and flora)!!

She'd selected an English rock wall that we started upon ~ and it turned into hilarity. We both developed the shapes with drawing and textures, aided with wax crayons. When we examined our paintings, hers only lacked in darkening the grout between the large rocks. What began with me just wetting the "trail of grout" between her rocks ended with her chasing my wet paintbrush with her heavily pigment loaded paintbrush - - like a game of cat and mouse. We both ended laughing near tears!!!

The rigid mountain peaks were a different story. On one ridge we used a white wax crayon, the other just discipline of "saving the white". The afternoon wained and so did our energy. We were most pleased with the wax crayon peak, as it leaves a fuzzy edge, more appropriate with a distant ridge. But what really helped was adding the closest, shadowy mountain, which helped establish the foreground of the far-away scene.

Ending my journal entry, my mind wandered in gratitude for such a precious friend and all I've learned from her and then, to a bumper sticker I'd recently seen and loved, "The more you know, the less you need."And on, to the next journal . . .

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Returning ~ A Friend's Visit Unfolds To Kid's Camp

OH MY ... I clearly have been missing. I send apologies, for I have not forgotten all you loyal followers nor my discipline (and pleasure) in keeping my personal blog going. But as some of you know, my now Annual Women's Journaling Alpine Retreat ( crept upon me late August. Then, the very day I returned (from an incidentally, FANTASTIC retreat) our visiting guest, the Mexican Artist, Efren Gonzalez (, arrived at our home for a near two week stay. But, w-h-e-w, I'm nearly back and partially collected. So, let us return to where I disappeared!

Last day of June a delightful friend (a previous Alpine Retreat attendee from last year) was in town visiting. She too loves to paint plein air so I set up a paint date with her and I to nest into my neighbor Mary's full bloom garden. We settled in with this upward vantage of poppies. With a lovely day and good friend chatter, I end up with this loose but happy sketch.

Later that evening we meet other friends. Following a breezy picnic, we head for the opening show at a local small theatre. If any of you have seen "Sweeney Todd" you may understand why I chose to split the ticket and position it rather uncomfortably disjointed. That was how I felt after the performance ~ an experience to remember. Well, maybe to forget ...

The adjacent page picks up in mood ~ ~ and invention. A mom who'd long ago purchased a "3-Lesson Series" Christmas gift for her daughter returned, pushing me to invent a "Kid's Camp", five days of focusing on drawing skills with some fun mixed in. Ok, I'll brave something new and challenging.

Each of the days we work on different segments of drawing (contour, value, shapes, gesture etc.) and for fun, I plan the creation of a paper doll, for which she'll invent and paint outfits/costumes. Each day I'd bring home her creations and cut them out with my exactco knife.I'm unclear who learned most from this Kid's Camp experience but my student surely looked forward to the paper doll part of the day.

When our week together was all done, I was at home picking up my workstation ... and deliberated with what to do with the very cool negative images created from the cut-out costumes. ZING!!! What if I added them to my journal as part of the daily dialogue of the week. And so this is how this page evolved ... I'm actually very pleased with it.

What you all think? Isn't it beyond belief what amazing invention is channeled thru us when we are open. That must be that "gift that keeps on giving" thing?!?!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Growth, Relaxation & a Lil' Amish too!

More delight of Summer dance across my journal pages. Here I traverse opening my mind and heart then, opening my senses and spirit.

My first sketch was to commemorate and also, jingle my memory of a remarkable man and his work around healing and personal growth. Dr. Michael Ryce visited our church for a week - - a week of free workshops from forgiveness to personal relationships to "Why is this Happening to me Again?" (the name of his first book). I won't go into his process here, but I found it astutely revealing for my life. And even had me roping in friends and family to come examine their hearts 'n minds. If you get the chance to see/hear or experience his teaching, I'd recommend exposing your "open-minded" self to it. He spent hours at the board writing memorable ideas and examples . . . here he is . . .

This odd addition to my journal page is pretty much a graceful weed. Actually, it is an enemy we constantly find invading our rugs and socks, usually brought in by our Golden Retriever. But this one was still intact and had a lovely curve to it's spine. I had to save it and . . . just in time . . . our neighbor came over to have my hubby help her program her new cell phone. And in the refuse she left behind was this perfect black backing for my graceful weed. I love serendipity!

The right side of this open journal is from the refreshing camping trip up to one of our favorite quiet camping areas, Lake Lemolo. I won't detail this adventure because I did do a previous blog post on June28th ( with descriptions of a heavenly hike and other juicy parts. But DID want to re-share the lovely calm lake view and the adorable, peaceful Amish women we saw in the Rogue Gorge parking lot.

I choose to just sketch the simplicity of them . . . and the accompanying thoughtfulness that came with seeing them and perusing what I imagine their lives to be. It still brings me a stillness. And I'll take all of those I can get . . .

Friday, August 19, 2011

Start 'O Summer & Music Celebrations

The birthing of Summer for me comes with the diversity of activities suddenly available here. This full page double spread epitomizes just that.

First, we visit the Grand Opening of the Britt Festival in Jacksonville. In the last two years Britt has joined hands with the City of Jacksonville to celebrate it's opening city wide. Throughout town is music, antique cars, food and beverage samplings and, of course, art. Our local Jacksonville "Art Presence" took part in the festivities sprinkling a variety of artists in their booths along the closed portion of 3rd Street's north side. My booth was just back from the main street, California Street (I know, I always wondered why an Oregon town would have as it's main street "California" ... but, I digress) and I watched close on the merriment of bouncing balloons (some adorable photos of children reaching for the blue 'n yellow), the Victorian outfitted patrons along side their antique cars and later in the day, as the heat increased, an argument between motor vehicle drivers. I did start this sketch right there on site . . . was plunking right along with the painting of my sketch . . . then suddenly looked up . . . and my antique car was gone!! How rude ~ did they even ask me? Anyway, that part I had to finish at home from the digital photo I've learned to snap just for these situations.

Just in front of me, right on the corner of the main street was Dolores Schwalb. A spirited 80 year old (I believe) who had written most of her life and was showing off her several books written about local life in the area from years ago. We exchanged fun stories and she gave me this postcard promotional. I loved the photo of her as a young girl on the farm.

Later into Summer, I had the pleasure of finally dropping into a neighborhood cafe/bar in Ashland to hear one of my watercolor student's musical group perform. She'd been inviting me for months! I was determined to go this month because her performance coincided with an event at the Ashland Art Center. The Art Center had been presenting free art movies with popcorn too.

This month the movie was "Wasteland", a movie about a professional photographer who traveled, and produced this documentary of "pickers" at the Rio de Janiero garbage dump. He ended up doing personal "portraits" of specific "pickers" with them helping. They created the "portrait" in a giant warehouse's floor using actual garbage, then photoing it from above. AMAZING!! Now, you have to watch it to see what happened to the images and the "pickers" too.

Anyway, the musical interlude at the "Wild Goose" Cafe & Bar was a delightful contrast to the content of the movie. My friend Beth, her hubby and several other talented musicians entertained us til the evening drew late. I love the dark, atmospheric background that brings out the musicians in my sketch - oh yes, I did it later too, from that same digital reservoir.

Don't you just love the energy of Summer as it brings a vitality and energy of so many aspects to life? Savor the gifts nature and humanity offer up . . . we all live with such miracles around us!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Wacky Weather and Loose Trees

With two special days to celebrate between my hubby and I, we headed up to sunny Portland for festivities. Originally we'd chewed on going camping. As we watched to weather in Oregon, it continued to be chilly and rainy. Shoot! Ok, we'll head south, to sunny California. We researched the weather near beautiful Burney Falls. But ~ alas ~ rainy there too. So, heck we'll go check out the totally the opposite direction where its usually rainy, Portland, Oregon. And, you guessed it. Sunny and in the 90s.

Roland made reservations overlooking the rolling park at the river's edge at the "RiverPlace Hotel". Now we have to take Cody, our Golden Retriever, and the hotel is great, even offer us "puppy sitting" options for when we dined at the restaurant. We refreshed with the "Strawberry-Cucumber Water" available in the lobby and ride up to our room. Once unpacked and settled in, we set out to enjoy the glow of the sun and greeness of the park.

When we return from our walk along the sparkling river, in our room we find a "breakfast-in-bed" tray with two dog bowls resting on it, accompanied by this autumn-ish card ~ for Cody. Inside it read, "Welcome Cody! We are delighted that your parents have brought you to stay with us at RiverPlace. Your comfort is of the utmost importance to us. If there is anything we can do to enhance your stay please let us know." Signed "RiverPlace Hotel Staff". Roland and I smiled at their attentativeness and Cody, well, he enjoyed the biscuits from the bowl!

This was the sweeping view we had from a corner room on the 9th floor. Portland is a yummy city ... we stumbled upon their "Rose Celebration" with parades in the evening and amusement park rides along the river by day. As always, went we head home, we stop by the delicious "Pearl Bakery" to pick up fresh bread and treats for us and our neighbor, Mary, who loves good baked good almost as much as we do. And a fond g'bye to Portland we wave.

Perched adjacent to our Portland visit is a playful and colorful demonstration I worked up for one of my private students. Her request was to learn "trees" . . . so I did a quick rather abstract rendition on the left, then replicated a more detailed sample for her on the right. You'll notice how much of the shaping of the trees is established with shadows and negative painting around the highlighted front trees. For the trees on the right I used some white wax crayon to save those "sky window" holes and also, used a mist-er to squirt a sprinkled, random water pattern, into which I dropped a variety of greens. The mist-er technique is an easy way to create a leafy pattern with colors running into one another.

I'm learning to live life as loosely as these trees were paiinted, but I'm probably more effective in that with the trees :) At least I have a visual example . . . and plenty of patient friends.

Any feedback, my wise and worldly audience?