Sunday, March 23, 2014


"Gratitude turns what you have into enough." 
What is enough? How much is to much?

Lately my boyfriend and I have been developing plans for what we want our future to look like. We've both decided we want more emphasis on family and less emphasis on money and stuff. We want to eliminate debt and live within our means. But comfortably within our means. We want to have lives that are more meaningful and less about the rat race to stay ahead. 
This means letting go of the idea that you need to consume. I'm trying very hard in my "hobby" practices to scale back. That means I'm trying...TRYING not to make new purchases of art supplies, which is hard. I'm an addict I admit it. I've also put myself on a "diet" of books (Only what I can get at the library or the online library) and yarn. 
SIGH. It's hard. But I think it's worth it. I think the art that I do create will come out more meaningful, as it's less about the product and more about the process and result. And I have a decent stash of art supplies as it me, I'll be okay. 

So in keeping with that thought, I made this page by reaching for some of my lesser used supplies. Markers. On a whim-back in the day-I purchased a set of letraset promarkers and another of letraset aqua markers. I used them a few times, then loaded them up in my pretty travel case and haven't really used them since. Why? I don't know...they're not my FAVORITE supply but they are definitely fun and vibrant. They blend if you work quickly, spreading the color out with your finger right after application. The water colors ones-aqua markers-will blend with a bit of water. It's not the cleanest of blends, as you can see, but that's perfectly alright with me. I love the "texture" of streakily blended watercolor. 
The other thing I reached for in making this page is a Viva "pearl pen". It had been another impulse purchase from some store online. Today was the first time I used it. You squeeze it and a line of puffy pearly ink comes out. I promptly squeezed out a huge mess right onto my shirt testing this out....
I put it onto the girls shirt and framing her, and I like how it dried, raised and shiny. It reminds me a little of the liquid pearl drops...hmmm..maybe I'll have to use those next time. But what was kind of cool is that if you smear the liquid out right after application, it dries clear but leaves a beautiful sheen. You can kind of see it on her cheeks and forehead. Groovy, right? 
What you have is enough. Be happy with where you are at in the journey that is your art. Or your life. You are enough, exactly as you are. 
There, some words of inspiration for you today! I hope you're enjoying these posts, they give me a reason to keep plugging some art into my journal. 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Wondering if you're good enough?

"Should I submit something to XYZ magazine for publication?" "Am I good enough to SELL my work? Am I good enough to show it?"

These questions have been teasing at my brain lately, making me wake up in the night and sneak out to peak at the pieces I have up for family display. Are they any good? It's hard to judge the value and worth of your own work, especially when you're filled with doubt about it.

I've only been "an artist" for a few years. Most of that has been from the ground up, taking classes and getting past drawing stick figures. I still consider myself a beginner, my artwork is reflective of that. My process has always been mostly for myself.

But lately I find myself craving validation. I want to put my work out there to be seen. I want people to look at it and go "that is art." Maybe they won't understand it, but they'll accept it as artwork and move on. They won't see it as the craft of a lonely 33 year old fat chick who paints on a tiny slice of a TV tray while trying to do her day job....

Then I can truly call myself "artist".

How do you ever decide you've earned that elusive title, the distinction between crafter and artist? What makes you feel "good enough" to have your work out there for public consumption? Do I have anything truly to give to the art world?

My girlfriend at said that my art was simplistic and "light". I guess in some ways it is. A lot of the depth that is in the work I do gets hidden, the meaning lost in the layers. I end up with a product that's fairly sparkly, pink and upbeat but underneath there's a lot of heaviness, weariness and pain. Life. There's a lot of life. Do I need to be less subtle about the "life" in order for my work to mean anything? To be valid?

These are questions I struggle with. What are your thoughts? Is work that is "light and fluffy" and bordering on crafty considered "art"? At what point do you become and artist? What validation do you need? Let's talk.

(Phantasm-one of my more "artsy" pieces, done in charcoals layered over craft paints and modeling paste.) 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Trust the process

Trust the process....
you hear lots of art teachers spout this mantra at you. "Trust the process. Trust your instincts. Go with your heart...." And you should. To an extent. But don't rule out cold hard practice. Do it over and over again until you can render a face in your sleep. Draw what you see. Draw it badly. Draw without looking at the paper. Draw only using a single line. Practice. Practice practice practice. Play with different colors to shade. Don't be afraid of "non-traditional" colors for a portrait, you'll get some interesting effects that may be stunning. Or they may be UGLY. It's okay. 
Trust the process....part of the process is the practice. 

Friday, March 14, 2014


An older piece I did a year ago (Spring 2013). My style is evolving, slowly but it is shifting. I'm finding my own voice and style. I'm finding what story I want to tell as my life moves forward. 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Just a quickie

I was playing and decided to not overly complicate this pate. Simple, lovely color/texture going on and fun to make. What else could you ask for? 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A peak at my work-step by step

So recently somebody asked to seem my process. I don't own the equipment to do any filming, and I'm unlikely to get anything anytime soon, since d/t the insanity that is my family, finding a quiet time and place to film would be nearly impossible unless I did it in the middle of the night. So instead I took some photos. I'll try to walk you throiugh what is going on as best as I can. 

I had a sketch on a page that I didn't much like. So I covered her over, first with some gesso, then with some collage papers. The papers are post it notes that I got from Walmart. I literally reached over and just grabbed off my desk what was on hand. I liked the grid pattern of the post-its. I glued them down using gel medium, which isn't actually my favorite thing for gluing. The kind I have (Golden soft-gel semi-gloss) tends to leave the page feeling like you coated it with plastic. Which I guess you did. But again, it was what I had on hand. I am a bit heavy handed when it comes to applying things like gel medium. I put down a blob with a plastic pallet knife, then I spread it over and under the papers I am gluing down. I TRY to wait for it to dry before moving on, but I'm not always successful. Today though, I managed to wait (only because I got busy doing stuff for work.)
Once the gel medium was dry I sketched out this funny bunny with a 4b pencil. I like 4B and higher because they are soft and dark and thus go onto any glop I happen to have on the page. If I'm sketching only, I go for 2Bs or HBs. 
Once she was sketched, I started adding in shading using a watercolor crayon (Caran D'ache Neocolor IIs). I go around the edges of the face, under the eyes and around the shadowed edge of the nose. 

Using a water brush, I start to move the line, spreading it outwards from where I applied it. I do this leaving only a thin coating of color. Because I'm painting over gel medium, the color sort of sits on the page, not soaking into the paper really, so I'm careful to let it dry before going further or it will wipe right off. 

I deepen the shading using the crayon straight. I move it around with my finger only, skipping the water at this point because I want what was already down to stay where I put it. I add in another color of pink and keep the white that was already on the page to use as highlights. I want a transparent look here, because I want the grid of the collage papers to show through somewhat. 

I add some color to her shirt,ears and eyes here. Once that is dry, I get the gesso back out. Putting on a small drop, I use my pallet knife and fingers to smear it around, softening around her shirt, the edges of her ears and even some around her face. Don't be afraid to do this, especially if you are using a cheap-transparent gesso like I am. (Martha Stewarts brand) This will give a sort of dreamy look to the piece. If the watercolors reactivate and smear, that is okay too. It'll tint the gesso some and make the piece more "cohesive". You can always go back with a crayon later and add back in some definition if you want. I also added some random bits of darkness, since the background was so very white. I wanted a white sort of "minimalist" look here (I'm channeling Mindy Lacefield in this piece, I think...or maybe Misty Mawn?) But still, it was SO stark. I used a water color crayon to just scribble at random. 

I wanted to make her pop a little bit, so I added some shading under her head and around her neck, just a little bit of purple, smeared out with a tiny bit of water and my finger. Like her curly-q on the top of her head?  Yeah... me too. 

I added a quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson, just using straight crayon, and a little bit of book page with a heart drawn over the top, to bring more yellow back into the piece. I think I am done with her at this point...since I'm going for that primitive sort of look. 

So, what do you think? Look at the gorgeous texture I ended up with. 
Now, go get messy!! 

Monday, March 10, 2014


I love art journals. I love looking at pictures of them, I love thinking about them. I love fondling papers and wondering what sort of journal it would make. I LOVE looking at sketchbooks in the store and supplies....LOVE.

The process of art journal for me has been deeply gratifying. I've found myself able to pull ideas out of the recesses of my dark and dingy brain, lay them down onto paper and then color over them. I've found myself exploring ideas that are complicated, to hard to write out  on their own. Ideas about my religion, my relationships, my life, my family. I can get pretty deep.

Or I can stay right on the surface. Like sketching. Some of the work I love the most is just simple pencil sketchings, with very little to no "extras" thrown in, like paints, stickers or collage. They are quick, the instant coffee of the art world. Instant gratification, and the chance to play. I do lots of sketches like this girl here, playing with whimsy faces, shading and movement. I sketch while dinner is cooking, while I'm sitting in work meetings, while on the phone. I sketch in journals, in calendars and on work spreadsheets. I doodle in coffee shops, on newspapers, while playing board games. It keeps my hands busy and actually in many ways helps me to focus.

Art journaling should be about the freedom to play, the freedom of expression. But I strongly believe it should also be a place where you are NOT REQUIRED to be complicated. You can be as simple as you want. Let your mind unclutter, leave your page unclutted. Just get in and play.