Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Delving Into Mixed Media

I've never been one to mix up the various art mediums too much.  I've worked with nearly all of the different mediums - oils, watercolors, acrylics, charcoal, etc. - but this idea of mixing them all up on the same page or surface is fairly new to me and still a bit foreign.  Kind of like taking a favorite recipe for cake and throwing corn in it.  And then you have all of those layers - why throw the corn in if you're just going to add a bunch of chocolate to cover up the taste of the corn.  Okay, that might not be a very good analogy for someone who wants a good excuse to add more chocolate.  But maybe that is it exactly - maybe the point of mixed media is so that you have an excuse for more delicious layers of color and texture and so that you can bury some little secret ingredient that only you, the creator, knows about.  Hmmm.

At any rate, I gave it a go yesterday with this project inspired by Willowing Arts Life Book 2016.  Seriously, another class!?!  You bet.  I got interested in this year-long art journey because Martha Lever is contributing a couple of lessons during the year and one of them is a lesson on Chunky Versal lettering.  I have admired this style on her website and wanted to learn more about it.  That particular lesson won't be available until the middle of October, so I have plenty of time to entertain myself with the myriad of other art forms and contributors included in the weekly videos.  And, oh my, there is a ton of content!  If my blog posts start to sound a little British, it is because the main contributor, Tamara Laporte, is from the UK and she has created soooo many videos.  Believe me when I say I am not complaining.  I feel like I have hit the mother-lode of art techniques.  :)  I normally get up long before the birds or sun so it is a great time to sit with my breakfast smoothy (or a cup of hot cocoa), watch a video and get inspired to create. 
This project was a 'warm-up' project for us newbies to mixed media and was quite fun to work at.  I worked at it in little spurts throughout the day.  It was a good way to take a break from clearing flower beds and spreading mulch.  Not that I am complaining about that either - it has been wonderful to be outside clearing away the debris from all of the green things springing from the ground.  I am way ahead of my usual spring tasks so it makes it more enjoyable and taking little breaks more guilt-free.

Joy and blessings,

Friday, March 18, 2016

Birthday Wishes

Yesterday was my youngest granddaughter's birthday.  She turned 7!  Happy Birthday, Libby!

I like to create handcrafted cards for special occasions and I have featured some of them here in the past.  Sometimes life gets too busy and I have to actually purchase a card (oh no) and on those occasions, I feel like I have somehow let the recipient down.  I know - watch what you start!

But, even though I have been busy with work and getting all of my tax papers in order, I did not want to drop the ball on Libby's birthday because, after all, it's tradition and she is special!  So here is my little 'work of art' to mark her birthday, done in watercolor and ink with a little pencil shading.

Joy and blessings,

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Curious Friend

I've been busy getting my paperwork in order for the 'tax man' so haven't produced much noteworthy artwork the last couple of days.  Until that time, I will share another little mixed media piece I did last spring.

Each spring the bird songs change and I can hear the new arrivals long before I can spot them.  My Dad was always pretty smart at identifying bird songs when we were out working in the field (he also could spot and identify a weed at 40 paces) and he would point them out and sometimes whistle them back.  This was, of course, long before iPods and ear buds of any kind.  So I gained a love and appreciation for the melodies and the birds creating them.  I especially love the orioles that come to our yard each spring.  We have really tall trees and they usually like to perch quite high so it is not always easy to see them.  But this little guy came right up to the patio door.  I was able to photograph him and work from those to do this little painting in my Moleskine journal.  I used watercolors for the bird and lettering, pan pastels for the background and black ink for the outlining.

Joy and blessings,

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Colorful Coleus

Every spring I get excited about planting things and purchase annuals long before it is warm enough to safely plant them outside.  It's a sure way to encourage the weather to turn cold and wet just to spite me.  One Sunday morning last spring I was looking across the table at some plants I had brought in out of mercy.  Since it was too nasty to be outside, I decided to paint them instead of plant them.  This one was actually in a little plastic nursery pot.  So I painted him into a more comfortable home, painted some dirt around his roots and here he thrives.

Joy and blessings,

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Make Lemonade

This is just a little mixed media piece I did last spring.  They say when you can't think of something to draw, draw fruit, draw your dishes, draw your pencil - just draw.  So I did.  I used watercolors for the lemon and shadow, ink pens for the lettering and pan pastels for the soft background and lemony centers.

Joy and blessings,

Monday, March 14, 2016

Just Ducky

Inspired by Junelle Jacobsen's 'Traveling Brightly' class.

Got up to such a beautiful spring morning today (Friday)!  There was a little frost on the ground, but the sun is shining brightly and it is quite warm now.  In fact, I discovered my first crocus blooms of the season when I went outside to rake and uncover perennials.  Always a thrill!

I did this little watercolor at the dining room table while I was still in my pajamas.  Seemed like a perfect theme for the gorgeous morning.  With some Liquitex Matte Gel, I glued down some paper from an old education book on a page of my sketch book.  After it dried, I covered it with a coat of QOR Watercolor Ground.  It dried white with just enough of the paper showing through to add interest.  I did this process yesterday and let my layers dry naturally, pressing the page under a heavy book once it was dry.  I was having trouble with wrinkling and puckering when I used a hair dryer so I think I will just have to learn to be patient and wait for things to take their natural course.

This morning I sketched my drawing and then applied light watercolor washes.  I followed this up with inked lines and details once the watercolor was thoroughly dry.

We have ducks and have incubated eggs, as well as, let them nest and hatch their own.  I don't think there is anything cuter than fuzzy baby ducks!  One year, our granddaughter borrowed the incubator and hatched some of our duck eggs.  She hatched two ducks that she called PB and J.  They followed her around all summer whenever she was outside.  They even got to have a morning swim in the pool.

Joy and blessings,

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Sunday Morning Renewal

I like to sketch on Sunday mornings at the dining room table while my husband has his coffee and reads the paper.  The rest of the week I feel like I am stealing time from work I should be doing - but not on Sunday mornings.  The colors seem brighter and my imagination seems more relaxed and ready to play.  Puddling the paints on the palette and washing them on the fresh page brings the most satisfying joy and release from life's responsibilities.  In my heart and mind it is the perfect way to honor God's declaration that Sunday should be a day of rest and worship.  It is a day for fully embracing the talents and joys that He has bestowed upon me.  I know that I often fail in keeping His commandments but I hope that in this little ritual I please Him.

Joy and blessings,

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Fancy Footwork

This is a pencil and charcoal sketch I did this week in my Strathmore Mixed Media sketchbook.  I was inspired by a photo in the current issue of 'Bella Grace'.  If you haven't seen this magazine, then you should check it out.  The paper, words, photos (Everything in it!) are beautiful.  It even contains prompts and space to include your own thoughts, should you choose. 

It was fun to do something a little more challenging and see, quite frankly, if I could still draw worth a darn.  Took a couple of tries to get the depth and perspective the way I wanted it but I am happy with the result and glad I made the attempt.

Joy and blessings,

Friday, March 11, 2016

Anticipating Spring

Project from Junelle Jacobsen's 'Traveling Brightly' class.

I am sooo ready for spring.  Temps here were almost 70 Monday so I just had to go out and do some raking and clearing of flower beds.  I chose the beds that are most protected from the elements in case we get some harsh weather - pretty much a sure thing during March in Iowa.  Took a look through some photos of my flower gardens from last year and thought I would share a little spring inspiration.  As if we need another reason to wish it were here.  :)
My washtub fairy garden.
Joy and blessings,

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Alpha with Oomph

This is an alpha I stylized for my Artfully Inspired Life 2016 journal.  I spent quite a bit of time drawing it out and inking it on my page so that I would have it for future reference.  Since then, I have used it for several projects and I am very happy with the way it looks, both in black and white and in color.

Joy and blessings,

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

In a Perfect World

In a perfect world our shutters would all hang straight, flowers would be blooming profusely in our window boxes, skies would be blue (cerulean blue to be precise) and the hedges by our front door would be perfectly groomed.  Can you smell the coffee and cinnamon rolls?  Actually, when I am in the midst of drawing and painting all is right with my world and anything is possible. 

 Joy and blessings,

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Joy Ride

This little watercolor was a project for Junelle Jacobsen's 'Traveling Brightly' class.  She did hers in a dimensional mixed media project but I stuck in my comfort zone with watercolors.  As you can see, I am traveling along at a pretty fast pace - dropping my purchases as I speed along.  In real life, I keep things pretty 'tied down'.  Years ago when my youngest son was in high school, I went out one day and bought myself a red pickup.  He was a little jealous of my purchase, so he had lots of admonitions about women and pickup trucks.  One of them was that I should always secure my load because he didn't want me to be one of those people who takes off in the intersection leaving a load of lumber falling out on the pavement.  I've done much of my own woodworking and construction over the years and became a regular ninja at strapping things down with bungy cords.  Haven't lost a load yet.

Joy and blessings,

Saturday, March 5, 2016

This is another practice piece inspired by Martha Lever's Calligri-fun class.  I originally took this class about a year ago.  I wanted to brush up (pun intended) on my brush lettering skills so I went back to re-view the videos.  Much to my surprise, she had added three new videos at no additional cost.  They include information on various ways to embellish the basic lettering and ways to use your lettered pieces.  What a deal!

I am using the Zig Brushables markers on Strathmore Mixed Media paper for my practice pieces.

Joy and blessings,

Friday, March 4, 2016

This is a little watercolor and pen-work piece I did based on an art prompt in a class I took with Junelle Jacobsen called 'Traveling Brightly'.  She is a delight to listen to and learn from and if you need an attitude lift she's your gal.  So much fun and so joyful.  My style is much tighter than hers (no surprise to anyone who knows me, I am sure) but there is no pressure to follow her exactly. She encourages you to do your own thing and follow your own heart.  I was sad to have the journey end but the videos are available for an unlimited time and unlimited viewing so I can return whenever I need a lift.  Not to mention, I am sure I will be signing up for more of her classes.  Better finish some of my current commitments first, though.

Joy and blessings,

Thursday, March 3, 2016

I jump-started my creativity this year with an art journaling class presented by Joanne Sharpe called 2016 Artfully Inspired Life.  She provides 4 videos each month with lots of inspiration and mixed media techniques.  I wanted something that would challenge me to create daily and this was a good choice.  Joanne is very enthusiastic and always delivers what she promises in her courses.  The class is a real value for a whole year of content and videos and registration is still open if you are interested.

We are doing monthly mantras and I chose 'FAITH' for March.  With Easter this month, I felt it was a good focus.  I really like this quote since I have shoveled a lot of stuff (both physically and figuratively speaking) in my life.  And I have always believed that you have to pitch in and meet God half-way, so to speak.  I have never expected anything to arrive on my doorstep without giving it my whole effort.

Joy and blessings,

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Practice piece inspired by Martha Lever's Calligri-fun Class.
Hi everyone!  It has been forever since I last posted anything here but not because I haven't been busy creating.  Maybe a little bit too busy!  I started the year excited about learning new things and refreshing my skills and practicing daily.  Sooo excited in fact that I signed up for multiple online art classes.  So many classes that I have now officially lost count!

I have been sharing my work in the Facebook groups set up for those classes, but not sharing anything here.  But I really should be.  Some of my practicing is not related to a specific class but is a combination of all of the things that I am learning.  And that is really what I am hoping for - enhancing and growing my own style through the practice and learning inspired by the various artists/teachers.

Some of the practice pieces will be very specific to a certain class, so I will give credit to those artists and provide links to those classes so that you can also learn from them if you see something you like.  I haven't been disappointed by a single class yet.  In fact, I have been delighted and inspired by all of them and wish I could meet all of these ladies in person.  It has given me a renewed excitement for art and such an appreciation for their generosity in sharing their skills.  Plus, it has given me an avenue for sharing with fellow creatives.  I have been so hungry for that and even if we cannot physically touch one another, we can most definitely share our love of art and joy in creating.

That is the other reason I want to make my blog active again.  I have my blog linked with my profile in these sharing circles and if they click on my photo and want to find out more about me I don't want them to see a stale post from 2014!  For there is nothing stale about my attitude or excitement so my blog should reflect that!

Joy and blessings to you,

Check out Martha Lever's blog at