Friday, May 28, 2010

Nourish the Flame

Nourish the Flame
I started this card with a "house" stamp (Teesha Moore), using archival ink (Ranger), sepia. The blueberry and apple images are from a Wednesday flyer for produce from a local grocery store. Embellished with watercolor pencils (Staedtler aquarelle and Derwent Intense), watercolor crayons (Caran D' Ache), Liquid Embossing (Plaid), clear.

For me this card is about nourishing ourselves as creatives. This means literally feeding the flame of creativity through feeding the body with fresh food, the eyes and heart with beauty, the mind with fresh ideas. I am also realizing that I need to nourish my muscles and bones with movement and rest.

Guiding Star

Guiding Star
I first stamped with a Teesha Moore "house" stamp using Ranger archival ink, sepia. Embossed scrapbooking paper (Michael's). Watercolor pencils (Staedtler aquarelle and Derwent Intense), Liquid Embossing fluid, clear (Plaid), metallic markers (Office Max), collage clips, acrylic skin with acrylic gel medium (Golden), shining star sticker (Mrs. Grossman), tape decorated with maps (Michael's), brads. Stamping ink (Tsukineko, ColorBox, Brillance) pink, silver, copper. Watercolor crayons (Caran D'Ache).

This card is about where art comes, at least for me. Finding where you are, where you need to go through alignment with one's guiding star and one's heart during the process of art making. I think the mind can work with this process by drawing and reading the map: making marks/images that record the workings of that which is larger than ourselves.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Lots of Dots

Energy Dots

Background texture stamp, acrylic paint (Golden). Metallic markers (Office Max and EK Success). Acrylic embellishment (K & Company, no longer visible).
This card got a little (a lot) busy but I'm going to leave it the way it is. One of those cards that got worked on and worked on over a number of days and the "finish" just eluded me. It started out looking kind of like a Klimt--lots of pattern and gold. I glued on a piece of embossed star scrapbook paper in the shape of a house. Then added an acrylic embellishment that I ended up painting over with acrylic paint.

I called it "Energy Dots" because this card reminds me of all the atoms that never stop jiggling on the subatomic level of life. There the subatomic particles of say, my art table, are as active as an excited puppy, or that's my understanding. Interesting.

I'm Just watching the wind blowing and bouncing the branches of a tree as if the leaves were being washed by a great air ocean. That's the world we live in, every day. Or maybe its just me.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Southwestern Home

Southwestern Home

This one is a Georgia O'Keefe homage. Teesha Moore stamp from her "house" series. Poppy from K & Company, skull is a from a photo of a cow skull. Plaid liquid embossing liquid (sepia), Staedtler aquarell pencils, metallic markers (Office Max), Uniball metallic gel pen, acrylic paint, patterned tape.

As soon as I added the flower to this "house" I was reminded of Georgia O'Keefe, who left New York and made New Mexico her home after her husband and promoter, Alfred Steiglitz, died in 1946.

Georgia is famous for her close up paintings of flowers often paired with a time-worn skull. To me her paintings often seem like modern Vanitas paintings--work that includes beauty, abundance and a reminder of the presence of death in the life-death-life cycle.

The clouds remind me of a familiar painting that I often saw at the Art Institute of Chicago, "Sky Above Clouds IV" which is an enormous painting of Georgia's view of clouds from the window of an airplane.
My clouds have more of fairy tale quality.

I love that Vanitas theme in painting, also called "Memento Mori" To me, rather than being morbid or depressing, it reminds me to truly appreciate the beauty of the physical world, because it is brief.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Heart's Mobile Home

Heart's Mobile Home

Home is where the heart is--right? So wherever I go, I'm "home". One of Teesha Moore's "House" stamps, felt heart, key embellishment from Blue Moon, hand-cut and decorated paper wings, patterned tape (maps, scrolls) and "peel and stick gemstones" from Chenille Kraft. Details with Plaid "All Night Media" liquid embossing fluid, and stamp ink (Ranger, Tsukineko).

Since my 20's I've lived in apartments and rental condos. I've lost track of how many roommates I've had, dogs, girlfriends or boyfriends my roommates have had, cat's I've had, well, you get the picture. Since my son was born in 1997 it has been mostly him and me in our apartments, except for a period of around 3 to 4 years when I either lived with or was married to his dad.
Even though my son is pretty happy to call two places home (dad's and mine) his home with me has changed physically as I've moved, about once a year, all my son's childhood. I'm not sure why I move so much. I've begun to suspect that moving is how I deal with the need to clear space, get rid of clutter, start fresh. But I always have a "good" reason or two. Too cheap, too expensive, creepy neighbors, traffic noise, want to be closer to my teaching job, want to be closer to my son's school.
Which brings me to the next challenge. In this last school year I've been driving myself crazy trying to decide which high school would best suit my son. He's been in a charter school for most of K-8. I would like to move to the proximity of his high school to be--but I can't get a feel for it. He is not athletic so a high school that emphasizes sports is out. He is a "gifted-talented" kiddo but he is not an "A" type personality so an AP program might not be a fit. Not driven, not that interested in all A's. Man.
I think that this card is a reminder about being happy and at home wherever I am, physically, right now. If "home is where the heart is" then wherever my heart continues to pump that red stuff around, from my toes to my crown--that's home. Welcome home.

Buttoned Up Tight in the Magic Night

Buttoned Up Tight in the Magic Night

I made this card using a Teesha Moore "House" stamp (see previous entry for link to this stamp series on her site). I printed the stamp with Ranger archival sepia pigment ink. This card really is quite busy with embellishment. Meant it to be higher contrast and simpler but didn't want to stop adding textures and shine. Details with embossed star scrapbooking paper (Michael's), embossing powder (Kalidoscope from Stampendous) with a Versamark watermark pen. Circular stickers are "peel & stick gemstones" from Scrapbookin' Kids (Michael's). Other details with Tsukineko Brilliance pigment ink and Staedtler aquarell pencils. My newest addition to my toolkit is Plaid "All Night Media" liquid embossing fluid. It comes in finetip 1.1 oz bottles and 6 neutral/metallic colors. A little to thin too control like you can the Ranger Glossy Accents but good for looser raised glossy effects. Clearanced at Michael's, how could I resist? The "clear glass finish" on the measuring tape is where I used it.

At first I was going to call this card "princess" because the image ended up looking like a princess confined by her "notions" (please forgive the button pun). Then, when I continued to think about being confined inside and the "magic night" I came up with "Buttoned Up Tight in the Magic Night". To me it is the protected "princess" part of myself that fears the deep, wild magic of the unknown. Or maybe it is just the optimist part of myself looking out into the night and wondering what the pessimist part of myself will say next to rattle her cage. Of course "reality" lies in the balance between these two extreme world views. A bit overcast today. The perfect weather for a fairytale.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Clouds and Joni

Clouds and Joni

This card was started with one of Teesha Moore's "house" stamps. I stamped with Ranger Archival Ink (Sepia). I embellished the card using watercolor pencils, gel pens and metallic markers (office max), and also Crayola Glitter Glue. You can see more of Teesha's unique stamps at

As I worked on this card it reminded me of day dreaming. When the face at the top of the house started to look like Joni Mitchell, and clouds began floating around the house I thought of the song that I've always called "Clouds" but is actually called "Both Sides Now". It's about finding images in clouds, and the illusions and the mysteries in life. Also about dreams that never get acted on. "So many things I would have done, but clouds got in my way". I went to Youtube and found a version of Both Sides Now with Joni singing and the lyrics. Melancholy. Wonderful.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Time to Write

Time to Write
For this card I started with an acrylic skin that I cut into the shape of a house. It has words in handscript on it (can no longer see). There is a line of stitching around the house (man, I'm terrible at hand sewing). Clock faces and compass from Tim Holtz "Salvage Stickers". Spinners and gear on the right also from Tim Holtz. Hammered brads. Quill pen and gear charm from Blue Moon (Michael's). Quill charm embossed with gold embossing powder. Metalic pastel details with metallic markers from Office Max. Some effects (edges, etc.) created with ink pads: Ranger, Pretty Color.

I think this card means that I need to take time alone (lone bird, small house) to write. Also that it is "time to write". Finding my place and bearings (central compass) at home and consciously structuring time (two clocks) to write. One clock with modern numbers (half are blurred and hard to see, probably because I am too busy and/or scattered) and one with Roman numerals that I associate with "old time". I will have to sit with that idea, not sure. Slower time? More like an hour glass than a digital stopwatch, maybe. The whole image seems to be sagging to the left which I associate with the right-brain and creativity. Reminds me that sometimes I sag because I am tired and bogged down with work. In the best of all worlds (think: I have lots of money) this card would be telling me to go up to my (imaginary) cabin in the mountains to write. Oh well. I have cats, art supplies, books and my laptop--what more do I actually need? I can go to my imaginary cabin in the mountains right now. First a shower and breakfast...

Sunday, May 9, 2010

I Shall Wear Purple

Mom in Her Red Hat
To make this card I used a copy of a nice photo of mom. I added red Dymo tape letters, a scrapbook paper background (K & Company: "Life's Journey") and embellished with Crayola Glitter Glue and pink stamping ink. Some details with those great metalic markers from Office Max (pack of 8 great colors) and Derwent Intense Watercolor Pencils.

Happy Mother's Day to all you moms out there!

I'm happy with this artist card created from a photo of my Mom wearing purple and her red hat, which suits her very well. Mom is 84 this year and still the most politically aware person I know, and is going to many of her clubs and meetings even though she must now take her walker.
Of course you must know that humorous poem by Jenny Joseph who is now just about the same age as my mom: "Warning, When I am an Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple". On the off chance that you haven't read it I've copied it below. Jenny Joseph wrote this poem about a committment to being outrageous in her elder years when she was 30 years old, in 1961. Never too young to start "practicing".


When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we've no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I'm tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people's gardens
And learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

Jenny Joseph
an interesting blog post about this poem and a variation based on Jenny's poem:

Saturday, May 8, 2010


This card is one from yesterday. Left over castle pieces (acrylic transfer) from the "Perfect Harmony" card(s). Perfect harmony background (printed copy), Musical notations emphasized using Glossy Accents (Ranger). Clips of an image of candles. At first I had no idea where this came from--yet I liked it's other-worldly quality. But when I wrote that it had a "Perfect Harmony" background I got it. I need to address what "haunts me" in my life--in order to create more peace. What haunts me? Money issues, negative self judgement, clutter and disorder, health worries, family of origin issues. I need to meditate more frequently in order to align with what is behind it all (harmony) rather than dwell in the twilight of my "issues". In addition I will make gradual progress on the life items that sometimes keep me in a mournful place.

Friday, May 7, 2010


I think this is my favorite artist card. It is a mason jar full of American icons (cowboy, corn, Washington stamp; Statue of Liberty stamps, peach, Statue of Liberty sticker, stars). The mason jar is an image from a K and Company ephemera pack with the small images (mostly from a kid's sticker book) layered on top, and a layer of plastic over it. Background is made from decoupage tissue and ripped pieces of scrapbook paper. Background "aged" with burnt umber colored stamping ink. I really like sanding the edges of cards with a "fine" sanding block from the hardware store and using small ink pads to color the card edges.

Associations to Mason jars: both my mom and Grandma Thompson canned tomatoes each harvest season when I was growing up. All winter we would make the best spaghetti sauce from those tomatoes. I remember that my mom also canned watermelon pickles one year. They were really beautiful but I never tried one because I only like pickles as relish on hotdogs and hamburgers. I used to make my own spaghetti sauce, simmmered all day, made with my mother's recipe. Then one day I discovered that Classico Marinara sauce was just as good and even came in mason jars! Great sauce, jars, and not having to cut onions. A no brainer.
I used to use these jars for turpentine and damar vanish for oil painting and for holding my brushes. Now I like the jars for water for acrylic and watercolor painting. My first card to use the Mason jar was my artist card featuring a jar full of fireflies (see earlier blog post). I'm thinking now that I will do several with the Mason jar image and a "perserve your memories" or "preserves" theme.
"Preserve Your Memories"
"Preserve your memories" is actually a line from an old Paul Simon song called "America". "Preserve your memories, they're all that's left you". This card was the last in a series of 5 cards I made for a "baggie swap". In the baggie swap participants send 5 baggies with 5 ATC ingredients to the swap hostess. She sends 5 different baggies to each participant, we all make 5 cards and get 4 back when the swap is over. The "extra" card is a bonus for the hostess for coordinating the swap. I actually ended up making 8 cards from the 5 baggies. The "Preserve Your Memories card is a good example of innovation being stimulated by necessity. I needed to make that 5th required card from ingredients I was having a hard time relating to. A cigar wrapper, a game marker, two stamps and 4 purple flower punches. Suddenly I thought of putting all the ingredients in a Mason jar with an interesting background. The cigar wrapper became a portrait with wings by cutting apart the wrapper and reassembling them. This card actually proceeded "US" and in many ways stimulated the "us" card.

My favorite Mason jar card is the "firefly" card.  It reminds me of hot summer nights as a child and catching fireflies.  Seems like we caught them all because they are gone now, for the most part, in my Illinois hometown.  I've heard that the DDT fog they used to use for mosquitoes may have killed them.  Another good reason to "preserve your memories".  You never know when what you love and take for granted will be gone.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Light and Airy

3 Wingeds
This art card is very simple but has some pleasing textures. The base paper is gold cardstock that has been embossed using a "Splatter" stamp (All Night Media) with a tinted embossing pad (Emboss It) and Kalidoscope embossing powder (Stampendous). Next, two different rice papers. I got a nice thready deckle by folding the top and bottom of the blue rice paper and running a line of water with a paintbrush along the fold, then ripping. The "wingeds" were cut from a greeting card. I think two are moths and one a butterfly, but not sure--hence the name. Antenne added with a fine Pitt pen.

Scraps Collage

"Liberty's Song"

This card is one of three artist cards made from snips and scraps from my art table. I'm loving the patterned scrapbook paper pad "Life's Journey" from K & Company. I've been using the paper that has vintage musical notations on one side and vintage plaster on the other. I added a picture of a vintage Liberty Head coin clipped from the Sunday paper, lots of scraps including torn monopoly money (great borders) sprayed with Walnut Ink (Tsukineko), scrapbook paper, gold wrappers. Embossed using the Versamarker watermark pen and Hematite embossing powder (Stampendous). Raised, clear details created with "Glossy Accents" (Ranger).
It's like looking at a quilt made from my children's old clothes--I know which artist card each leftover scrap came from. This is the second time I've made a card using a Liberty Head image. To me this image can mean many things: a "liberated" woman, a Greek goddess/muse of freedom and abundance, and perhaps about valuing independence and lasting self worth.

Morning Song

This art card uses many of the same scraps found in the Liberty art card. Addition of a picture of a vintage Indian Head coin and other images found in the Sunday paper. Gear from Tim Holtz. Clear raised accents created with Glossy Accents (Ranger). This art card is about connection to nature, even in the modern world (needed even more in the modern world), and singing a song of praise and thanks for the new day.

This artist card is called "O U" because of the letters on the left side, middle. It was a snippet of a newspaper page that orginally said "Your House". Gear from Tim Holtz. Torn Monopoly money, scrapbook paper, random snips and scraps. I like this card equally well in a vertical orientation. Fun to make these cards. They might be studies for larger paintings.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Monet's Garden

"I dreamt I was painting in Monet's Garden"
Acrylic and Intense Watercolor Pencils.
This card was made for an ATC lottery (everyone in the lottery makes one card and the lottery winner takes all). The theme was "I dreamt I...". My big dream (other than to always pay my bills on time and to have a larger art studio) is to paint in Monet's Garden. Definitely on my bucket list. However, in the meantime, there are so many great pictures of Monet's garden on the Web. I do have to wait to visit but I don't have to wait to paint from those photos. Love the three elements--the foreground water lilies, the clouds reflected in the water and the willow branches hanging down. Ok--if I win the "real" lottery--nothing but painting flowers, sky, water for the next 20 years. Heck, even if everything stays the same in terms of my finances. Nothing can stop me from painting my favorite images every day.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

More About the Creative Process

"Unlock" (series, 2 0f 6)
I was thinking about what I wrote about the creative process last night. I wanted to talk about the pitfalls on the path of the creative process. Here's were you can fall into and get stuck:
  • Never getting beyond the inspiration (bolt from the blue) stage.
    I tend to be a dreamer as opposed to a doer, so I really understand this one. Daydreaming and brainstorming are very pleasurable but there are next steps that must not be ignored. There is more "real" pleasure in bringing you ideas to life rather than just dreaming about them.
  • Stopping when the hard work starts.I've heard creatives call this part of the process "the shitty part". That's a good way to say it, in some ways, because it acknowledges there is a "shitty part" that is part of an often rather pleasant voyage. You may feel lost at sea but don't give up. You may need to truly experience the storm, or sea creatures, or just look up through our atmosphere and into the mystery of space, or chart an entirely different course. But know this: breakthrough follows breakdown when we are talking about the creative journey. It's not really that hard but you have to keep working. As an exercise keep on working on a drawing, painting, whatever until you have passed through the ugly duckling stage. Takes time.
  • Not realizing that it takes some pushing and persistence to birth your project.This is related to the bullet above. The creative process takes not only skipping through the daisies but also a bit of sweat and blood. If it takes work it does NOT mean that you are somehow doing it wrong. It is not all easy but it all turns out to be worth it.
  • Asking for feedback from those who do not mean you well.Hate to tell you but there are those just waiting to stomp on your creative effort. Beware of those who offer devastating "advice".
  • Asking for feedback from those who are blocked creatives or who fear the creative process.
    There are those who are themselves blocked creatives who fear the unknown or have been taught that the creative process is a waste of time, waste of materials, just for children or the soft of head or heart.
  • Asking for feedback from those who think artists are weird, incomprehensible, insane, (fill in the blank).
    People are really different from each other in many ways. Some people live exclusively in their logical, rational minds and can not comprehend why anyone would even want to go to the "right side" of their brains. Just see what happens when you ask a logical/rational predominate person to make a mind map instead of an outline (this is the college teacher part of myself talking). Humorous, expect insults. Sometimes is not that they don't want to "be creative". It's just really, really foreign to them.
  • Giving up because you mistake the "happy accidents" for insurmountable problems.My favorite parts of the creative process are the moments when something does not turn out the way you expected and you have to come up with a new idea to go on. When you say--"Oh, this is a door--wonder what's behind it" rather than "Oh, I messed up, there's a brick wall, better stop" you will discover what the creative process is really all about.
  • Perfectionism/Over controlBottom line, need to give it up to the Great Creative. You could call it your muse, your creative impulse, your guardian angel or anything you like, but, I'm telling you, there is a force greater than yourself that gets expressed when you let go to the creative process. You don't control everything, you know (smile).
  • Fear of Cracking EggsTell that maternal voice that is telling you to not make a mess to just go iron some sheets or something. Ever heard the saying "You can't make an omelet without cracking some eggs"? Get cracking. Remember when you inner child wanted to play in the mud and let the child play. We've got plenty of soap, water and clean clothes for later.
  • Post-project depressionThis common reality has ruined many a famous (and unknown) artist. At the end of each creative project there is often a let down. It's like a hormone drop after giving birth. It can be a powerful biological reality. What to do: overlap projects so the new project high overlaps the finished project let down. Prepare for the letdown by planning for future projects, taking a holiday or adding a positive new routine (walking, exercise, going to a new place to journal and sketch or write). Meditate. Get plenty of sleep.
    What not to do: drink to excess or drug or other self medication or self or other attack strategies.
  • Fear of completion/the end/being finished/looking at the "results"This can be related to stopping when the going gets tougher than you expected. But there are some who fear the journey's end. Fear of failure? Fear of success? Not wanting the fun to end? You know (or are beginning to know) where you fall on this continuum. Journal about it. Come to terms with the fact that everything that exists in time has a beginning, middle and end. But there is no shortage of creative ideas available to you. You literally can't use them all up. There is always a new journey to be begun. Love what you create, or hate it or use it as fertilizer to grow your next project. Not every one of your brain children is going to win a beauty contest--but guaranteed that each of your completed projects will have a unique and compelling quality or two.
    So go an MAKE something!