Thursday, November 29, 2012

Heart Connections Alongside Great Cats

This two page spread, besides it being the very last entry in this particular journal, seems another presentation that illustrates moving from the inner-viewpoint, to looking at the outer world.

The left page took place weeks after I'd completed, said my g'byes and gotten back home to Oregon from the Workshop with Elinor Peace Bailey. I'd been feeling like I'd wanted to do a "conclusion" page about the experience . . . and shortly I got a card in the mail from two of the participants with lovely compliments that brought tears to my eyes. OK ~ gotta get this page done. So I collected my thoughts (and a few precious items), looked inside my heart to talk about the feelings from that experience and those talented and tender women and this page emerged. The words across the top seemed to best sum up what the page encompassed and I found a font I liked and created similar letters. Now the colors and the gentle leaf pattern that weaves through the text came to me, wanting to reflect the card, business card and meditation card on the right side of the page. I did have a bit of a challenge with stitching in the lil' silver hearts . . . and honestly, not quite happy with it still. But over all, I love that the page f-e-e-e-e-e-l-s like what my heart felt!  :)  And once again, all you wonderful participants and Elinor and Muff ~ thank you for a powerful and sweet learning experience!

The adjacent page was more about looking AT things . . . but I gotta be authentic here, feelings ended coming out too. We'd gotten this reduced price set of tickets to the "Great Cats" Park over in Cave Junction and a perfectly cool, yet "without rain" day appeared. And since Cody, our Golden Retriever comes nearly everywhere with us . . . and there are no trees for shelter in the parking lot there . . . we needed a cool day for him as well as us (neither of whom enjoy hot, sun beaten tours). When we get to the park we join a tour already in progress and it really is fascinating, the information, tending and history of each of the beautiful cats. I'm not real comfortable with the fact that with each animal our tour guide could garner attention, she teased them into snarling, "performing their fiercest" for the gift of food. But . . . even sadder, the children loved it. Anyway, sorry for interjecting my opinion . . . I was touched by the elegance, strength and pure presence of some of these animals. The two who touched me most are imaged here, the regal lion and the noble white tiger. It was a day of mixed feelings . . .

And so this journal ends with a statement: " . . . held captive . . . we all ache for freedom". (I seem to have established a ritual of closing each journal with a quote or statement that reflects where I am in my life at the moment).

Friday, November 23, 2012

Journaling's Different Approaches ~ Split Page

The second half of leading my "Plein Air Experience" portion at the "Expand Your Art Journaling", tandem-teaching with Elinor Peace Bailey, had moved down to the secluded, dappled-sun shine "Guy Talbot Park" just down from the Vista House.

We settled right in doing several focusing exercises and then, to contrast with the mega-view we'd just completed up at the Vista House (see previous post), I was gifted this perfect lil' "Heal-All" blossom (brought to my attention by Sally, thank you, Sally), I did a quick sketch close-up. What I love in doing an intimate painting of something so detailed and in-your-face ~ is that as you focus your attention, begin adoring this lil' damsel of-a-blossom, you become astonished at the variety of textures and colors that are revealed to you. You become more aware! And so was my experience with this plant, which I later pressed and then, sealed with Mod Podge before I glued it on the page. Here you can see the participants busy discovering intimacies of their chosen subject. As the sun began moving westward we clustered back into our cars for an interesting, chatty ride home that even a traffic jam couldn't dampen.

The third and final day of our workshop was split between the two of us. We all gathered in the cozy garage workplace and Elinor took first lead. For my journal page I nested Elinor's portrait up against the map of the Columbia Gorge area ~ and to my surprise, her turtle-neck ended up being the exact color of the map's border. Love serendipity!

For today her portion of the class would focus upon making our very own personal doll (and coming from a world class doll designer ~ we were all excited). She gave us basics to think about around designing our paper dolls and it proved more challenging than I'd imagined. For some reason, I decided to create a male paper doll and when just playing with the facial expressions ~ I swear he looked as perverse as possible!! Not at all my intent ... so it took some revision. But here he is ~ still looking a little twisted! I became aware that male dolls are decidedly less interesting to create. I heard everyone around me playing with flowered outfits and ribbons in their hair and adding buttons to the shoes. My guy was boring by contrast ... but a good lesson ... non-the-less! When I finished up my journal page, I needed a way to 'sit' my doll permanently into the page. Yet, I wanted to be able to take him out and move him in different positions. My solution was a business sized envelope (a transparent one here - to less distract from the page) and, sorry "Beach Boy" (which is kinda what I've named him) but, you'll have to stay folded at the knee to fit.

Next half of the day, after lunch, was my opportunity to share one of my favorite mediums to use in journal pages: Paper Clay (yes, just go to to see what amazing things you can do)! Seems I've started a tradition to use a paper clay creation on the beginning page of each new journal I start. I find it adds excitement, dimension and when one cuts out behind the stitched in paper clay object, you cultivate several pages with unusual hole cuts around which you must to design. First, comes the rolling out of the medium (thin enough to move around, but not too thick either), then, carve, imprint whatever you imagine up. Next, it must totally dry and then, you may paint it. And then, once again dry, you can seal it. Here's the initial piece I started, impressed with lace (thanks for the great idea Elinor), painted and sealed. See the lil' holes around the edge with which I can stitch it into my journal page? Fast at work here is Elinor ... imagination "robusto!!"

And finally, here resides my full page spread, showing in full how I integrated the two days together.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Journaling's Different Approaches ~ Plein Air Experience

The next morning was the my day to share with participants at the "Expand Your Art Journaling" Workshop my approach. I'm up early to get organized and after breakfast, with all bodies accounted for we divide up into two vehicles once again and forge out ~ destination: Vista House on the Columbia Gorge.

The grey misty day begins to warm with streams of sunshine burning off the clouds and we are blessed with lovely vistas. My plan is to allow everyone to tour around, familiarizing themselves with the perspective viewpoints and then, gather all to do a brief demo for them. I'm aware that my brain isn't feeling very organized and I wrestle with too many wonderful sights and how to arrange eleven artists with materials on chairs into a cohesive group. Finally, I settle upon a cozy spot just to the southeast of the parking lot where we can gaze out upon the magnificent river and catch some of the nearby cliffs too. I'm hoping all are within the earshot of my commentary, as I aim to speak about my thinking, my process as well as the pigments and ratio of water to pigments. I'm fairly happy with the demo, even loving my crazy "bloom" occurring in the upper area where the mist still lingered. Watercolor just has it's own way about itself - - that NO human hand can control or replicate! And here is the another participants' version of the Vista House surroundings. Pretty amazing, eh?

I offer everyone the opportunity to select their own favorite scene to depict in their journals. Almost all, save two, linger at the original demo spot and I move to the back, popping up to wander around assisting or answering questions. When I'm stationed at the back of the working group, I play with a quick contour ink line drawing and fill in some adjacent color, emphasizing the large "shape" of the group.

We break for lunch, savoring the beauty and majesty of this gorge carved out before our eyes, and then hop back into the vehicles. I've selected a more intimate site just down the road that offers us more privacy and quiet . . .

And here ... you can see how my pages nestle up against one-another in my journal (with my text added later) and you can see the differing results from my journal page approach when placed side-by-side with Elinor's different approach.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Journaling's Different Approaches ~ My "Collection" Page

So once we had concluded the "gathering" and arrived back to our work tables, we launched powerfully into creating our own page. This expression completely from our chosen materials became fascinating ~ each individual's personality and spirit flowed.

Here is my "collection" page ... you notice how I resonate with a time past ... how I'm attracted to the small, intricate and detailed ... the lace, personal photo etc. My purchases included personalized, humanly touched items (like the hand written recipes or European sepia postcard with beautiful calligraphic writing) ~ things that tell a whisper of a story or a life experience. When I saw the colors coming together, I had to squeeze my tea bags onto the page, staining the lace, making things relate. And when I had the napkin with the spoon in place ... I echoed the accompanying knife by drawing it. 

My biggest challenge came with the sepia postcard. I wanted to be able to see both sides, the image and the writing and postmark. So I played with folding it and flipping it around in my hands ... I suddenly saw a "book" come to mind. I formed "pages" in the center and developed a way to stitch the binding as well as attach it to the journal page. Later come the coral bead and the feather. Now I have some deeper learnings from the workshop that I will detail in those pages. This also affords me some privacy, as most people paging thru my journal will not open my lil' hidden book.  

Now, I'm really happy with this very unusual journal page. Will I continue to work from "gatherings"for my journal pages? Perhaps . . . only time will tell . . .

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Journaling's Different Approaches ~ Gathering Day

I arose quietly, do my yoga and meditation in my "Chicken Room" (the chickens just watched, by the way) and patter down to breakfast and ready for our first day of the "Expand Your Art Journaling" workshop with Elinor Peace Bailey. Today is Elinor's day and it's going to be jam packed!

Elinor presents her perspective and process in journaling (very different from mine). With Elinor, she spends a good deal of time and thinking gathering, accessing and discriminating from exterior objects or stimuli. So our plan for the day is first - - gathering!

We divide into two vehicles, Eli's and mine and we launch off to four different places from which to gather our personal expression.

First we travel to a charming historic Washington town, Camas, and a store with the same name, "Camas". Elinor had pre-selected this diverse antiques shop and we poked around endlessly. Personally, this was my favorite stop with old handwritten recipes, lace doilies and foreign postcards and music sheets. It was like pulling teeth to get me out of this store.
Next, we cross over the Columbia River, heading into Portland's Pearl District, en route to "Cargo", a fascinating collection of primarily Asian collectables and other bobbles. From giant Chinese furniture to eccentric cards to antique Asian bookkeeping bound books (yes, I got one for the unusual paper and writing to collage). T'was like leaving a whirlwind stepping back out into the blue sky day.

A slight jaunt across town, where we plan to lunch outside before slipping into "Scrap". We realize the park we'd hoped for was not there and set up my outdoor chairs (I had for tomorrow's plein air work). Just settling in to munch on our sandwiches and "C-R-U-N-C-H" ... we realized a large truck had side swiped a moving vehicle as well as Elinor's, ripping off the mirror. I did a later sketch of her approaching the wounded cars. We were distracted for near an hour and finally toured the store "Scrap".  T'was a store of donations of the wildest things - I even found some Letraset rub on letters there!! Honestly, I think we'd all lost much of our wind from the accident incident and decided to eliminate the next stop, "Collage" from our tour. We pointed the vehicles en route home to Elinor's.

Renewed when we all returned to our Vancouver nest, all set up for our creating and we settle in to create from our gatherings. Already ... it had been a full day ... just wait to see what ensued ...

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Journaling's Different Approaches ~ Arrival

This whole story is a sample of what "serendipity" or "chance", when grabbed, can create. A long while ago I took a writing class that offered different "prompts" to incite creativity. I selected this crazy image ~ I loved the joy, wildness and expression of this woman! The idea of tandem-teaching with her came to my brain ~ and I followed up online.

Long story short, Elinor Peace Bailey and I created a three day workshop, "Expand Your Art Journaling", and from my personal journal, you'll see how I expressed the experience in my pages.

I launch off to Vancouver, Washington where Elinor lives and where we are holding the workshop ... about a five hour drive from where I live. I pass thru rain and break into sunshine as I'm crossing the bridge to Washington. Upon arrival I find that I've arrived when Elinor and her sister, Muff, are out shopping. So, what else would a visual art journaler do? Yep, pulled across the street and wiggled into a comfy position in the driver's seat and start sketching the joyful yellow home. I'm near done when the colorful twosome drives up with all the food for the ensuing weekend. I help unload and get nested in.

Now when I'd spoken to Muff earlier, she'd told me I'd be staying in the "Chicken" room. I really did ponder what the heck that could really mean ... silly me!!! I didn't know Elinor Peace Bailey yet. It really was the Chicken Room!! I mean every wall, every counter or shelf space contained a chicken (painted or otherwise). There was even a big, rooster-like fella hovering from the top book shelf lookin' down upon my bed. But, never fear, he was friendly. I checked :) And after a fun dinner out and lots of chattering, I slept well admidst all the chickens.

Next day, we had planned the "Meet & Greet". Our workshop was set up in the breezy, spacious garage area with a fascinating audience to watch us ... yes, all of Elinor's amazing dolls (did I tell you she's a widely known and talented doll designer?) With Elinor's usual playful spirit, she'd gotten us all name tags with ridiculously riotous lil' creatures. I had to save mine, he made me smile and his energy was contagious ... so here he is in my journal.

Late afternoon, the diverse participants began arriving, wandering into the well lite garage space. Elinor started off the workshop, welcoming all to her home and then, gave a brief introduction into what our time together would involve and a overview of what her part would be. Then, she handed it off to me and I smiled greetings to all eleven new faces. Some were from Elinor's connections, doll makers and quilters (can you believe from Montana and back East?), and some were watercolor talents (a couple all the way from Southern California). We shared introductions and then dove into poking thru all the journals Elinor and I had pulled out to share with the group. It was frivolous fun pondering the pages and asking how each different one had evolved and what it meant to the artist.

As the sun set, we all headed off to our nests for slumber ... with visions of journaling mysteries and juicy solutions dancin' in our heads ...

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Painting Summer Memories

With the continuing days of summer, I have a collection of visual happenings taking place into July.

The third and final of the Eden Vale Winery Plein Air Workshop ties up neatly the class while it sparks the beginning of this journal page. The demo I selected was simple when compared the to previous "architectural" image from the day before. I selected this contrast-y silhouette of these planter pots against the rich background. I kept the foreground wall and bricks abstract to drive your eye to the pots. Those I waited to detail out until the entire image was dry ~ giving me great hard edges and brilliant colors. Later in the afternoon during our critique time, the gentleman with whom I make arrangements at Eden Vale, Aaron, dropped by to make sure we were comfy and happy. With a beautiful venue, terrific participants and  perfect weather, how could we have been anything but content?

Later in June, the Applegate Valley had advertised it's summer celebration at Cantrell-Buckley Park. The lovely site right on the meandering Applegate River was to have food and music and we head all the way out to the park on the 16th of June . . . only to see the sign advertising the event for, you guessed it, the following weekend!! That next weekend found me with many deadlines and when I'd completed my tasks, we arrived at the celebration - - just as things were closing up. Argh! But, Ro still snagged a glass of local wine and I my camera and we relaxed down by the river. This memory captured a tiny, brilliant yellow bird dipping in and out of the water just in front of the river's rock and a teeny lil' hang glider from the annual hang gliders nearby competition.

With the first weekend in July comes the annual Salmon Celebration. An all weekend event way out on the Rogue River includes honoring the salmon catch and the Native American Indian reverence for this harvest. We traveled out for the salmon roasting dinner and prayerful dedication that precedes it. T'was such a joy seeing people nested into camping nests and children enjoying the river. Gramma Agnes was there to contribute to the energy and I loved watching how the elders were honored as they were gently glided to the front of the dinner line. There is so much our current society could learn from the Native American traditions. Here I've savored the manner, smell and wildness of the roasting salmon, cut in large slices, speared and poked into the ground next to the glowing red fire pit for slow cooking. Ahhhh, the sweetness of summer here . . . in southern Oregon.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Plein Air Painters Escapades

One of my favorite classes to teach is Plein Air (painting on location out in nature). One of the most accommodating and welcoming spots I've found in the Rogue Valley, which offers up languid landscapes, blossoming gardens, lush vineyards and an elegant historic mansion, is Eden Vale Winery! Yes, I'm recommending visiting !!!

 Each of the three day workshop, we gather early to catch the morning shadows. We do a review of materials, design and planning and after a brief demo from me . . . everyone selects their own favorite subject matter to work up. To start out I do a small but fun lil' scene of the vineyards with background wine processing building. I aim at keeping it simple and capturing the feeling of the day. I'm pretty happy with this image.

In between assisting everyone with their images, I find a snippet of time to start the quick image of the yellow roses and the Adirondack Chairs dotting the grassy areas. Now you know how I love detail and finishing things off - - but with others suggestions to just "leave it alone, it's fresh", I've done just that (no, I didn't have to tie my hands back!).

The second day of the workshop we follow a similar agenda and I have my participants select what subject they would like me to do for the quick demo painting. The select: "architecture". Oh MY!! I have to admit that although architecture can be lovely, I tend to get all anal working on the perspective and square subject matter. But . . . I follow through with my commitment. I wander the grounds seeking a clean and uncomplicated object, letting my students hear exactly what I'm seeking. And, just as usual, once I get started on man-made subject matter, I find complications. This overhanging porch with graceful grapevines dangling appears easy, right? Well, once I started drawing the supporting horizontal beams, I went nuts attempting to define what was sky or beams. I eventually decided to go "loose" and just randomly drop in vines and sky. It pretty much worked ... but re-affirmed my avoidance of linear items. I will never make an architect!!!

Just to share some of the lovely journal work produced during the workshop, here's a lushly illustrated passion vine as well as a delicately depicted rustic pot with dancin' grasses!
And in case you wonder what the totality of my days working onsite for the Eden Vale Winery Workshop, here's the full two page spread (one more to come on the next page from day three). Love to hear your input or experiences with painting on location!!!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

A Columbia Gorge Adventure

Honest, I've not fallen off the planet. Just been absorbed and busy planning/participating/recovering in life. So hopefully, with understanding in your spirits, we'll pick up in June, from where I left off!

Early June, my lil' family, Roland, Cody (the Golden Retriever) and I, decide to take a spin up and around the Columbia River Gorge. T'was a multipurpose trip: 1)both Roland and I have birthdays to celebrate and 2) I'm on a mission to discover a secondary plein air painting sight for my upcoming tandem-taught workshop with Elinor Peace Bailey in July.

This birthday is a "second birth" that I commemorate ... this year it is celebrating my 27th year 'clean and sober'. For those of you who didn't know this about me ... well, all I can say is, it's been an amazing trip. From where I was 27 years ago, into who I've become and further ... into all the possibilities open to me ... I've come to see life with less fear and more joy and trust. So, depicted on the left side of this journal spread are two loving and beautiful partial cards I received to remember that event. I continue to feel honored by the friends I've made along my path. I'm the one celebrating :)

After Roland and I trek to Portland, lodge, dine out to celebrate his birthday (yes, the belly-button one) and slumber, we are up to meander along the old Highway 30 along the Gorge. At one of the waterfalls, Roland picks a sweet white flower for me :) Soon we arrive at the "Vista House" that is one of the sites I'll work from in the workshop. We poke and prod around, seeking areas that could offer more privacy, quiet and reflection. But with no trees, and only small shaded areas evident, we hop in the car to find a more intimate experience for my participants. Within five minutes we come across a picnic area tucked away with the exact conditions I'd hoped for. I called the park service and made my reservations. Job DONE! So following a late lunch in Hood River we doddle along our route back to Portland.

Across the remainder of the journal page is probably my favorite scene, that, to me, reflects the deepest of meanings the Columbia Gorge carries for me. At the Bridge of the Gods at the Cascade Locks we pull in where frequently we come across Native Americans selling smoked salmon and cherries. That scene paralleled by the strong mural upon the supports of the bridge (of how life was before the White Man and then, how it became after the White Man) brings tears to my eyes. The imagined vision of the powerful river, so alive and vital to the Native way of life, contrasted by the current Native Americans pedaling here in the parking lot saddens me. I hope I've captured the beauty and power I sense in the memory of this area with my sketch. But really . . . can there ever be enough pigment and emotion to do that?

Monday, August 27, 2012

Tahoe Eclipse with the Girls

This set of journal pages swells with some of my fondest memories . . . with beautiful women and amazing scenery.

My dear friend, Lena has been for years, inviting me up to check out her Tahoe "cabin" as a possible Retreat venue. Finally, I got it together, found a weekend Lena was available and was even able to get two of my "best-est" artist buddies to join us there too! Renie and I take off from Oregon around 10am, arriving at the Tahoe address (which we missed several times - Lewis & Clark we are not!). What a spacious, well-lite and elegantly homey atmosphere we found in the home. We trekked into South Lake Tahoe for a modest dinner (at Rosie's where the swinging front door was levered to close by the weight of a dangling pair of ski boots!!!).

Next morn, Renie and I drove round the lake to visit one of my favorite places in the Tahoe region, Fallen Leaf Lake. Before we came upon the small, crystal clear lil' lake, this meadow came into view. When I stopped to take photos, tears flooded my eyes and I began to cry. I'd not realized how much I missed seeing split rail (well, almost) fences, snow capped mountains and my quaking aspen trees. It still moves me to see the photo. So, you further know what a softie I am for nature's beauty. And I don't want to change.

Later that afternoon, Jean arrived from Bodega Bay and then Lena to create our fab four. We dined at home and giggled and laughed over a silly movie. Early to bed for a day outside together.

Our destination was Sand Harbor. I'd never stopped there and Jean raved about it ... once there I was dazzled by the views. I'd passed the turquoise water in vehicles but, being in the setting with white granite against the water was magical. Immediately I was drawn to the rocks that seemed to people the shallows. We all split up to spend painting time ... here's my family of rocks from right on site. When the sun chased me away, I moved over to sketch the sweet cove where the white sand was cuddled by rocks dotted with bold trees. I didn't want to stop painting. But the eclipse was drawing near.

We positioned where we could best have a clear view of the sun. Silly as we were, we'd not brought proper eye gear, but a gentleman had one extra pair of safe eye ware and gifted it to us. It was fascinating watching the bright, clear light change to an eerie yellow haze. I attempted to capture the event with this lil' time lapse sequence. And the sun really did appear that color through the 'magic' glasses. A special time with my precious friends. And wet or not (because some of us had to wade into the water even if we were wearing pants!) we caught dinner out en route home, savoring the vision of the lake and the rich companionship.

The following morn was the all-to-early ending to a delightful time. Lena and I took a long hike before packing up and cleaning the abode. Renie and I were the first to leave ~ we had the longest drive home. And g'byes were bittersweet. I could have lived like this forever ... such wonderful energy, encouragement and joy danced between us all. But change is inevitable ... and we launch on our trek homeward. Smiles and yummy memories re-running through our minds.

Thanks again, Dear Lena for this opportunity to share time and your beautiful home in Tahoe. It's a life event I'll never forget.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

From Gallery to Gold Beach

As summer approaches, outings open up the heart. Such are the postings on this journal spread. We start on the left with a visit to Grants Pass, Firehouse Gallery for an Opening, then travel over to the Oregon Coast to Gold Beach for play.

My dear friend and artist bud, Roger, has been taking numerous creative classes at the Rogue Community College. With encouragement they got him to do his own show at the Firehouse Gallery. He'd traveled the California and Oregon Coasts relishing time in nature and the discovery of new places. This series of nine paintings, quick, simple, and expressive watercolors are less detailed than his usual color rich pieces, but refreshingly succinct. Of course, after the viewing we had to have lunch. We stumbled across a totally new place to us called Hannah's Restaurant and Historic Steam Laundry ( The food was excitingly good and the space was majestically big and open. There was easterly huge windows and a well done mural of a southern plantation on the western wall, which of course, held my interest and therefore, the replica. Yummy desserts too, by the way!

Depicted on the adjacent page of my journal is the essence of a playful trip I was treated to by blessed friends. For months we'd tried to get four of us artist friends coordinated and finally, rounded up just three of us to head to a "three-day girl's weekend" in Gold Beach. I have to say the accommodations we enchantingly charming and bizarre at the same time. When we were told there would be three seperate beds, one for each of us, never did we imagine the layout. This sweet, tiny, one-bedroom cabin had one bed in the bedroom, one in the living room and, (yes, are you ready) one in the kitchen. Yep, in the kitchen! It was a riot! We spent the days hitting the beach for long walks with the puppies (two small, cuddly ones), chattering, reading in the sun and cruising the huge Gold Beach bookstore.

There I stumbled upon this giant book, Polar Regions, which hopefully you "get" it's size relative to the portable radiant heater and chair. For just $19.95 it's going to make a fantastic "Art Book" Project I'm hoping to enter in the April Book Show annually at the Illahe Gallery in Ashland (

My sketches are of our tiny, crazy cabin and an experiment. I'd read about these pens, Elegant Writers, hearing they were swell for black and white sketches because when  blended with a watercolor brush, they create these pinkish-bluish bleeds. Well, I was happy with the bleeds but - - you know me, I can't leave color out of anything. So in my attempt to add some color, the pens continued to bleed. Argh. So, my lesson was to do the color of the painting first, then sketch in with the pen to later blend! But it all captures the free, fun weekend had by us girls at Gold Beach.

Happier, sunnier days of summer continue . . .