"When we all think alike, then no one is thinking."
— Walter Lippman

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


   This month's ATC is a digital image that was made up of 5 separate photos and a few photoshop brushes, using 8 layers in the composition.   The individual photos were purchased from Tumble Fish Studio and include the boy, crown, key, and hand.   These became the raw material to transform and alter in photoshop.
   The prompt for the month was "Artist Tribute" and I chose to try something in the style of one of my favorite contemporary digital artists, Maggie Taylor.    A few years ago when I first looked at her work, it inspred me to experiment with photoshop.  With much yet to learn, I am still inspired when I go to her web site and study her imagery.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Story House

 This is a model for a mixed media class project in which each participant makes and embellishes a little house that "tells" or implies a story.  When all the houses are complete, participants trade houses, then interpret the visual clues to tell their version of the imagined story, in their own words.  Creative writing is encouraged and there are no wrong answers.
As my little story house sat on the work table, I continued to work on a small collage with similar colors and images.  A scrap of wood was used as the base.
The end result was two works that seem quite related.  
 In art, as in life, one thing often leads to another.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Mixing It Up On Canvas

Recently I picked up a fairly large stretched canvas that had been neglected in a corner of my studio.
Although I have seen many fine examples of mixed media work on canvas, I had never tried it myself and it was time to do so.
The process for this work started by dividing the surface into sections and applying layers of collage using matte medium and undertones of color with acrylic paint.   Each new layer that was added created more depth and interest and I liked working on the sturdy canvas.   It's not shown here but the surface treatment goes right around the edges of the piece so no framing is necessary.  
I'm already looking forward to the next adventure on canvas!

Saturday, July 23, 2011


  If you ask them, about 98% of children will say they are artists and approach art making with joy and self assurance.   Sadly, by the time they become young adults, that number is about 2%.   Somewhere between childhood and adulthood, the gift of playfulness is too often traded for self criticism.   The large and free flowing paintings proudly displayed in childhood become small tight drawnings hidden under hands and turned face down.   
  There are many theories as to why this happens.  I believe that without nurturing it, we lose the ability to access that playful, creative part of our selves.    What do you think?
  Play is a means of discovery.    This is how I typically approach a theme: intuitively and with open possibilities, playing with immediate response, moving and removing images, arranging and rearranging.  I rarely know ahead of time what the end result will be until it is "discovered."
  The theme for this month's art exchange was "interior."  
  Starting with bare walls and floor, I filled the room with unexpected images rather than furniture.   Working intuitively up to this point,  the quote by Claude Debussy came to mind and the child's hand was added reaching into the space.
   "I wish to sing of my interior visions with the naive candor of a child."  
    Honor your creative spirit and make time to play and discover something new every day.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Visual Journals

 I love the look and feel of the hand painted artist's canvas over heavy book board and have made a few more of these books to put in my Etsy Shop.   
While I often use recycled leather for my spines, for this series I have been using hand painted canvas and it works beautifully.   
I begin with large sheets of artist's canvas, painting and embellishing the entire surface.  When it's dry, it is cut into pieces just right for covering the book boards and spines.  
Once the canvas is adhered to the book board, I paint it a little more so each book is unique.
The paper is cut and folded into signatures, then bound to the spine.
This one is ready to go!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Fred 1995-2011

On monday we had to say good-bye to our oldest cat, Fred.   He had been in poor health for some time, and had crossed that line between having pretty good quality of life and not feeling good anymore. There was not going to be a happy ending here, so we tearfully made the decision to give Fred the final gift of a peaceful end to his struggle.
   Over the course of his illness, Fred had gone from a robust, stocky physique, to mere skin and bones.  I wanted to override those final images and remember him as he looked in his prime.  So this morning I opened my journal and painted a portrait of Freddie....a cat in the prime of life, a mighty hunter of rodents, the super-cat he had been.   He was stretching, as he often did, just before he came up and gave you a good head-butt.... a real show of affection.  That's the way I will always remember him.
   The quote is from Walt Whitman, so thoughtfully sent to me by my art-exchange friend, Sharon Parker.  It was fitting that it should be included on the page:
"I think I could turn and live with the animals, they are so placid and self contained;
I stand and look at them long and long.   They do not sweat and whine about their condition; They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins;  They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God;  Not one is dissatisfied- not one is demented with the mania of owning things;  Not one kneels to another, nor his kind that lived thousands of years ago;  Not one is responsible or industrious over the whole earth"

Sometimes keeping a visual journal is a way to work through the difficulties that life hands us.  It's a place with no rules where we are allowed to express freely the things we are feeling and then stand back and say "There, now, that's a little better."

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

3 Funny Bunnies

Another digital illustration with a "numbers" theme.
Once again I began with a vintage toy as the focal point.
This one seemed appropriate for the season.
Happy Easter!

Friday, April 15, 2011


Numbers.  That's the theme of this month's exchange.  I used the image of a vintage toy robot and the lyrics from an old song by Three Dog Night.  "One is the loneliest number that you'll ever do..."

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Fun with Photoshop

Five different images were used to create this 16 layer work in Photoshop.  My inspiration came in the form of an email from my dear friend and kindred spirit, Terry Garrett. Yesterday he sent me several links of artist's work that he thought I might like.  After spending time looking at all the eye-candy,  I was so inspired, I could hardly wait to get started on some work of my own.  This is often how it begins.
The image of my cat Chance was the starting point and the composition grew intuitively from there.
There is still so much to learn about image manipulation in photoshop, but it is always an adventure to see what will happen.  Don't be afraid to experiment.  Go where the muse takes you and above all, have fun with your imagination.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Hide and Seek

My offering for this month's art exchange features the sport of Geocaching.
I decided to experiment with an original black and white photo and used a gradient blend of three colors to alter the image.  This is the result.   I hope it reflects the enthusiasm I have for this high tech game of "Hide and Seek."

The original photo for this image was taken near Clear Lake, Iowa at the site of the 1959 plane crash that claimed the life of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, The Big Bopper, and pilot Roger Peterson.  The "Virtual Cache" at this site called for a photo to be submitted with the cache log.  

There was a strange energy at this place that seemed to come through in the shot.  I made the half mile walk through a cornfield just after sunrise on a cold autumn morning and set up my tripod for the photo.  As the timer went off, there was a rustling in the rows of tall dry corn which caused me to look in that direction.  Crows.  
I stayed for a while looking out over that landscape and could imagine a snowstorm in the early morning hours long ago and the events that happened there.

For more information about Geocaching, click here.
For more information about the Buddy Holly plane crash, click here.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Red Leather and Centipedes

I like to recycle good usable materials whenever possible, and frequent trips to thrift shops are part of my routine.  On one visit I found a red leather coat that was probably not going to have a future in fashion.  It was an ugly coat, but the leather was beautiful.    I purchased the coat, took it apart and cut book spines. 
This journal was similar to another one I recently put in my store and I wanted to make it different somehow.   It needed a few red centipedes on the cover.....
As I was taking pictures of the new book, I suddenly had an assistant.  Chance wanted to get a closer look at that red leather spine.  He couldn't believe it was made from an old coat!
Here is the inside of the cover and the back side of the centipede stitches.  I like to leave them exposed.
Consider how you can recycle interesting and useful materials into your artwork.   Visit your local thrift store and imagine the possibilities.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

My Current Journal

Although most of the books I make go into the hands of others, this is the visual journal I am currently carrying and working in.  
The covers and spine are hand painted canvas.  I chose the dark earthy colors I love, and stitched 2 centipedes in waxed linen across the surface. 
Attached to a page-marker are some items that each have symbolic meaning.  The small face charm represents a playful childlike spirit, the key opens the mind to possibilities, and the metal tag with "Imagine" stamped on it reminds me to look beyond the obvious.
Much of the paper for the inside of this journal was pre-painted before being cut into pages and bound.  I used concentrated inks and put sea-salt on the wet pages to create the interesting textures as they dried.
I find a blank surface intimidating to work on, so I usually paint or alter the pages of a book prior to working in it. 

On the inner cover, you can see the back side of the centipede stitching.  I like the structure of this stitch and chose it as a place to write my name in the book. 

The title page has two important messages:  "Silence your inner critic" and "Take time to wonder."  
The page in view is the result of a drawing exercise called "Picasso Dogs" from the book Drawing Lab by Carla Sonheim.  I had so much fun with this technique that I introduced it to one of my drawing classes. 
Since this journal is in the early stages, I have only completed a few pages.  So many possibilities await!
Remember your childlike playful spirit, open your mind and look beyond the obvious.  

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Painted Canvas Covers

 One of my students recently gifted me with several rolls of fine artist's canvas.  Within hours a large section of the canvas was on my work table getting painted for book covers.    The painted canvas is adhered to heavy book board, resulting in a very sturdy journal cover.  
This example shows a strap binding with heavy leather.   Signatures are attached with a version of the longstitch binding method.  
With this new supply of canvas, the plans are to make a few more of these and continue to experiment with alternate cover treatments.   It's always an adventure and so much fun to play.
You will find this journal and others in my Etsy Shop.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Texas Jack

Texas Jack was the subject of one of my journal pages this month.   If you aren't familiar with this member of the Cowboy Hall of Fame, there is an excellent website devoted to his memory.  You can access his biography on the site by clicking here.   Frontier scout, actor and close friend of Buffalo Bill, Texas Jack was one of the good guys in America's Old West.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Different and Alike

Facing pages in one of my art journals..... or should I say "face-off pages"?    
The prompt was "altered faces" and this duo began with that intent, but evolved into a statement about our differences and similarities.  
We are drawn to each other because of our similarities but it is our differences we must learn to respect.

Saturday, February 5, 2011


Pages from my visual journal.   Some thoughts about fear.
The right page incorporates painted paper woven into the page.  Left over pieces became the horizontal bands on the facing page.  

Friday, January 21, 2011


When the theme for our January art exchange was announced to be "Black and White," I immediately thought of drawing Zentangles.   The first one on gray paper with  white highlights and the second one in the traditional black and white with graphite shading.   
For anyone wanting to learn more about the art of creating Zentangles, here are some links:
http://www.zentangle.com/whats-new.php   this is the newsletter link.... go back into the archive newsletters to find instructions for individual patterns.
http://zentangle.blogspot.com/  this is the Zentangle blog.
That should be a start.  Remember, anything is possible one stroke at a time.
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