Cool Resources, and Scrap Wood Art

With creative people, truly new horizons open up.

~ Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau

I feel like my little universe has been expanding lately.

Artist’s dates at the Home Depot have been a regular occurrence for a really long time now.  Stretching my idea of where to find art supplies was a wonderful and exciting deal for me…

Since then, I’ve been reaching new heights in discovering alternative resources for all kinds of stuff.

Free at the Library

For instance, I can access digital downloads of ebooks through my library. I can check out a digital edition of a book, and it goes through my Amazon account and onto my device for two weeks. At the end of my loan time, I can renew the loan or let it end and leave my device.

We’ve been doing that for some time as well. But while I was perusing the library website the other day, I found that I can through my library membership, access Mango. Really??  Did you know that??

Learn a Foreign Language

I almost paid a fair amount of money to get a year’s subscription to Mango so that the hubs and I can learn Italian together. And the kids want to learn Spanish.

And through my library membership, I set up our profile and we can all learn any language we want and it keeps up with our progress and everything. Just like I bought our own program!!

Maybe I’m a bit late in this game, but I am truly filled with wonder and awe. I have been exploring the library website more now and have found several other very helpful resources for my kids’ schooling. For. Free.

Fun Live Shows

We’ve also been going to the library for super-fun and interesting live presentations.  We’ve seen live animals, including a giant tarantula and a kangaroo. We went and watched a live story teller. We just had a presentation all about local beekeeping.  Seriously. And all free.

Homeschool Co-Op, Not Just for Homeschoolers

The other amazing and free resource that we’ve been having tons of fun with is an ezine called Click Schooling, through Homeschool Buyers Co-Op. (Affiliate Link)

Some of you might not be homeschooling anyone. Maybe you know someone who is. Or maybe you have kids in brick-and-mortar school. Or you know other families with kids.

Let me tell you, it is really really cool. The Co-op is a great place to find information on educational material and curriculum. It’s a great place for people to connect and find fabulous pricing on all these materials, because the Co-op buys as a group, as a large body. Kind of like a school district. And with size comes better pricing. That better pricing is extended to all of its members. And joining is free. Following my link and joining for free does earn me smart points that my family can use towards educational materials.

But the part I seriously LOVE: the ClickSchooling e-zine. You can choose what subscriptions you want in your profile when you join.

A New Free Website Resource Every Day

ClickSchooling ezine comes out each day with whatever that day’s scheduled topic is.  Like Wednesday is language arts day.

And the email will have a link and some info to a free website to go and learn something. Free. Cool. Educational. Not just for the kids. I go to all of these sites and learn stuff. More than my kids.

I know, I know. I’m supposed to be schooling my kidlets. But I am having so much fun on these sites 🙂 I have visited the live shark reef exhibit at the National Aquarium in Baltimore, and I went back to watch the live demonstration at feeding time last week.

I’ve watched how airplanes are made. I learned all about Alaska. I played with some art lessons on some of my fave artist and made art in their style! And I brushed up on my grammar, which is helpful for my writing. Sort of, lol.

I’m telling you, this cool resource is worth its price of admission. Or lack of price, really.

And Now for Some Art

I have a few other tidbits I’ve been learning about finding cool stuff and I’ll keep ’em coming. But for now, I’ll leave you with this: a couple of pics of three little canvases I made on some of my hubs’ scrap wood I found in the garage 🙂

I LOVE LOVE LOVE having a hubby that leaves his scraps lying around!!

Prompt: Do you use “trash” to make art??

Inspire Wood CanvasHappy Together wood canvasBlue Wood Canvas

How-to Make Your Own Stencil, the Easy Way

I have been making my own stamps for a while now.  I have made a few of my own masks as well.  And I have learned a lot from both, like which materials are easy to cut, which materials absorb too much product versus which ones don’t absorb enough, and so on.

What I haven’t done much is make my own stencils.  I’m not sure why, it seems like a natural next step, right?  I think that I had some crazy block, telling me that stencils are always made out of that plastic sheet stuff, and who can actually cut a neat, crisp stencil by hand out of that stuff??

Silly, I know.  That’s a look into my personal type of hangup.  I have a creative difficulty: I can’t always see the possibilities from my neatly-packaged black-and-white world.

Seriously?!?!

How can I possibly be an artist, you ask.  How can a creative type be stuck inside the proverbial box?  I dunno, but sometimes I find myself sitting in the middle of a really tiny box, and I never know what’s going to burn it up around me, freeing me out in to the world of fearlessness and color.

This time, it was making my own stencil.

I can’t tell you how joyful and good I feel to finally have gotten out of that stupid box!  I love stencils, love them so much!!  I fondle stencils at the store, I pine for them, I ooh and ahh over stencils I see other artists playing with in youtube videos…and I ache that I can’t just run out and buy every single one of them (I use my art supply monies on color, everything else I improvise, I have to have colors)…

I was just sitting here, pondering my next journal page, and I started pawing through the ole art cabinet.  I was actually thinking of cutting more shapes out for another stamp.  And that light bulb up above my head started to flicker and turn on.  Duh.

The easiest stencil ever.  Craft foam, if you haven’t ever played with it, is the greatest thing since, well, since bubble wrap and punchinella.

Craft foam is really does cut like butter, it’s fairly forgiving, you can draw on it, you can layer it, you can use it to make stamps and masks, and as it turns out, it makes great stencils!  AND, it’s cheap and commonly available!!

Stencil 3

Here’s the how-to part of this ramble:

1. Draw some shapes on the foam.  Start with something simple.  I used circles the first time.

2. Cut out the center of the shapes, in my case, the center of the circles.  Leave the outer parts in tact.

3. I went back and trimmed some of the outer edges so that the corners of the foam sheet didn’t show up in the stenciled images afterward.

Stencil 2

Ta-da, a stencil!

The trick really is to play and practice a bit.  After the simple design, you kind of get the feel for seeing the design that you’re leaving after you cut out the centers.  It took me a couple of tries before I figured it out.

 

 

The foam is also not absorbent, which I like.  When I use the stencils with sprays, the spray that collects on the stencil just kind of sits there, which makes for an awesome flip-side ghost print.  Just flip the stencil over and press.  Usually I can get a couple of presses out of it, depending on which sprays I’m using.

Stencil 1

 

And they also work great as caulk stencils because they have thickness.  The design comes out nice and deep or tall.  Or whatever you call that 🙂

Your Prompt??  Grab some foam, draw some designs, and give some stencils a try, let me know what you come up with, and have FUN!! 

 

 

Ink Sprays, My New Obsession

I have a new love, a new obsession…Dylusions Ink Sprays.

They are so very vibrant, so yummy, so colorful!  They blend wonderfully, you can use water to thin them out or to mix them together, and you can spray them directly onto your project or into a little puddle to then use with a brush.  I love using them on watercolor paper, canvas, gesso’d papers, book pages, cardboard, and muslin.

I love them!  I wish I had all of the colors, but for now, six colors is what I’ve got 🙂

I have also been playing around with making stencils out of foam sheets…and the sprays work great with them.  After spraying through the stencil, the ink sits on the foam and makes for an awesome ghost print after that, since the color doesn’t absorb into the foam.

Joy.

And I do use them along with my very favorite versatile medium, NeoColors.  The spray inks have not usurped water color crayons from their number 1 spot, at least not yet!!

And here for your enjoyment, an example of sprays and color and foam stencils and watercolor paper…and yet another mash note to my hubby 🙂

And I’ll work on bringing pics of some of my fun foam stencils, coming soon!!

PROMPT: What’s your favorite new supply of the summer?  Have you tried the Dylusion Ink Sprays yet?? 

*On a side note, you can find them at JoAnn’s and usually you can find a 40-50% off single item coupon to go with your purchase 🙂 

Two HeartsTwo Hearts 1Two Hearts 2

 

Soundtrack of My Life

So, I have an ongoing interest thing obsession with paint chip cards.  You know, those sample cards that you can grab at any paint store.  I love all of the different colors, all of the different shapes of cards for different brands of paint, and the weight of the paper.  I love searching google looking for cool things people do with these little gems.

It just so happens, Christopher is always taking me to Home Depot and Lowe’s 🙂 I am a lucky gal ~ I love the hardware store, it’s brillo for Art Fodder™!!!  Poor hubby, he has to deal with me smuggling out paint chips.  I feel a need to be super-nonchalant since I’m always there.

Maybe the paint section workers don’t think anything of it as we’re always actually buying paint…at least that’s what I hope…

Sometimes I just sit and flip through my collection of cards.  It is extensive and worthy of pondering.  Other times, I use the cards for making teaching aids for the kidlets.  We’ve made sight word flash cards, multiplication fact cards, vocabulary cards, Bingo cards (I’ll have to come back with some pics later, those turned out way cool!).  And I’ve made party invitations, Valentine cards, RAAK cards for art mail, Mother’s Day cards, and mini-books.  And I have a whole computer file of great ideas for the little boogers!

As I was reminiscing just now, I kind of forgot my whole point.  Those little cards do that to me, lol.

This particular journal page is not terribly ornate or anything, but I was experimenting with using the paint chips and silhouettes.  I think they’re pretty neat, and I thought you might like the idea:

Dancers

Clearly I was also pondering some of my favorite Pandora lists at the same time 🙂

PROMPT:  How do you use paint chips or paint sample cards?

*On a side note, if you’d like to check out what we’re listening to on a regular basis (cuz wordpress doesn’t have a super-duper Pandora widget), you can check out our Pandora station: http://www.pandora.com/profile/stations/motherdana.  I’m not completely convinced that leaving this link here for you will work, but let me know.  My profile is Dana Saint John.  The harder rock stations belong to my teenager, so don’t think that’s my music, lol.  But DO check out the others, lots of good art music contained therein!!  Some of the stations I have actively spent tons of time cultivating, others are still needing my input…

I am currently, right at this very moment of typing these very words, listening to my Greenskeepers Radio station.  Enjoy 🙂

 

 

I Art Because I Must

More than two years ago, when I first started blogging, I tackled the topic of why I art.  And I asked my readers, Why do you art??

I don’t really think that the answer is totally different, exactly, but it is more.  Or more defined.  Or, hmm…the answer is more.  Full.  That’s it: more full. 

I understand why art is a discipline.  I understand why it’s a hobby.  And I understand why it’s a passion.  I think that art is all of that, for most of us that art.  Sometimes, we have to force ourselves to sit down and art.  We don’t feel like it…we don’t feel inspired…we don’t have a good idea

But if we can just do it anyway.  If we can just dominate our feelings and do something.  Anything.  We can overcome that inner critic that says we don’t have anything worthy of arting about right now.  We can own it.  We can ART.  We can art anyway, to spite all of the crap that tells us we’re not good enough, or our inspirations aren’t worthy of immortalizing, or that it’s only time to art when we are in the right place with the right materials and the right light and the right ambiance.

All of that is crap.  Total crap.

Sometimes we’re going to make something that’s a bit less than great.  That’s okay.  We have to get through those creations to learn something.  Maybe we have to learn a color combination that we love or that doesn’t work at all.  Maybe we have to try a new pen stroke or brush stroke to see if it works or not.  I know you get it.

Maybe we have some unspoken quota of garbage-to-fabulous-ratio, like 30:1 of crappy so-so creations to amazing creations.  Then we just have to get through the 30 less-than-stellar practice runs before we hit the home run, museum-worthy artistic wonders of the world.  We just have to get them done.  And that 31st creation will be the one we were waiting for all along.

I once heard a golfer explain the game of golf like this: Golf is a series of terrible shots that make you curse and hate the game and wonder why the hell you’re wasting your time.  And then suddenly, Whack!  You hit the perfect shot, the shot that you know will land you on the Pro Tour, the shot that just connects your club with your ball perfectly.  The Universe is in total alignment.  The sound, the feel of the club, the whisshing of the air as the ball goes flying, it’s all perfect.  And you’re like, Yeah, I love this freaking game!!

Art can be like that for me.  Sometimes I wonder why I even made that mess on the canvas in front of me.  But whether or not I get the perfect shot, the messy ones make me feel better.  I enjoy arting.  I feel more aligned, I feel more relaxed, and well, I just feel way COOLER when I art.

Yep, I’m an artist.  Just sounds cool, right?  Did you know you’re cool, too?  I always loved artists, you’re an interesting bunch, you have a lot of feelings and things to say.  Share them.  And don’t give up.

What about me??  It’s simple…

I art because I must. 

photo(1)

 

Keep Visiting, We Are Still Creating

Life is beauty through and through
Life is sunny, life is cool

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros,

Life is Hard

We have been working to redefine and sort out what we want with our blog.

I guess I’m not completely sure where the blog world needs St John Family Studios, but the times that I’ve asked I seem to get few responses.  I’m unsure how y’all all get interaction on your blogs…but I seem to get nowhere in that department.

I do know this: during this past hiatus, our blog continues to have momentum, it continues to have this weird life of its own…it keeps going, people keep searching our art and coming to our page and looking at it over and over again.

I really have NO idea how that happens, but it’s pretty cool.  So something we do here is interesting 🙂

I’ve been completely involved with some new classes, a job outside of the house that I really do dislike a whole bunch, and other regular life stuff.  But my goal this year is to figure out what’s next, where the blog fits in, and how to keep sharing cool art and techniques and inspiration…and to figure out how to get the art and the surrounding stuff get to be the focus and the stupid job less of a focus.

Do you feel that pull?  How do we get to the place where what we love and feel passionate about is what we spend our time doing, and still eating and paying rent??  Any thoughts??

The other big goal this year for me is to learn to not be afraid of drawing and painting the human form, faces, hands, noses, eyes, hands, and all of the super-duper things that float around in my mind’s eye.

So I leave you with a sample of how I’ve spent my recent time arting.  Please keep coming back.  We will figure it out 🙂

xoxo

Class from LifeBook 2014 with Tamara LaPorte

Class from Life Book 2014 with Tamara LaPorte

What’s Up at St John Family Studios

Wow.  Once again I find myself realizing I haven’t posted on the blog in quite some time!

My J-O-B has taken way more of a toll on me than I previously expected, which has been kind of a downer…but this week I was able to change my schedule around a bit…which gives me early work times and home earlier in the day.  Unbelievable how much difference it’s already making after only one week!

My mood, my attitude, my soul feels way better.  I get home before it’s dark, I have time to play with the kids and art a little, hang out with Christopher while he’s cooking dinner…I may be working the same number of hours, but I feel like I have more time and way more quality time!

Hopefully that will mean more blogging time as well.  I do miss the blog when I’m away too long.  I have a number of different projects going that I want to share soon.  I’m working on a design for a pencil/marker roll-up case, made of denim from old jeans to give to each of the kidlets for Christmas.  I’ve been working on a fun jounaling-arting prompt list to share with you.  And I’ve been doing more art journaling and trying to get some more canvases ready for the etsy shop, as I’ve sold most of what we had listed in the shop.

So I’ll leave you with a couple of pages from my Little Red Art Journal and look forward to coming back with some completed projects to share 🙂

JoyShine

 

Ephemera Give-Away, And Getting Back to It

This past week was full of playing with Brave Girls’ Club and managing that excitement…so we sort of dropped off working on the Activity Blitz and awesome ephemera give-away.

Crazy to get started and then change momentum, huh.  But here we are, back to it.  Seems like so many people ran over to the Facebook page and found us there, but no one remembered to come back and leave a comment here about it.

Maybe the whole thing was too complicated?  I don’t know as I’ve never run a give-away like this before…so I’ll give everyone a BRAND NEW OPPORTUNITY!!

We’ll keep it simple.  And we’ll spice up the enticement a bit and share a sneak peek picture here with you 🙂

Ephemera Collection Give-Away

Buried in this pile: sheet music, French book pages, an Alka-Seltzer ad book, old letters, old snapshots, poems, dictionary pages, and more!

Leave a comment here.  Tell me what you like to make with ephemera, bits of stuff, saved little doo-dads that you keep or find.  Collage?  Canvases?  Cards?  Art journal spreads? ATC’s?  All of the above???

And if you run over to the Facebook page (you can find a link at the right now), leave a comment there too.  Just say Hi, and give us some love.

I’ll make sure that you’re entered for going there and leaving some love here on the blog.

Is that simple enough? 

I know that I’m not the most social of creatures, so I understand if you are not typically all about leaving comments and participating in small talk…but you’ll have to leave a comment somewhere to enter the drawing 🙂

This will not knock out anyone who has already entered or who stops by the first post and gives us love there.  I know how the whole random number generator thing works now, so I’ll get you all entered.

All of this is towards a great end.  With the official launch of SWAAK Paks™ just around the corner, the more activity we have here and on Facebook, the more our RocketHub page will get seen.  You can be a part of something greater by just helping our activity and interaction levels grow.

We are asking for your help to share the activity and buzz by participating a bit, and we’re willing to bribe you to do it!!

And to those of you who joined in the give-away for the new Brave Girls’ Class…this is pile of awesome Art Fodder™ to use in your projects!!

 

We’re Hosting a Give-Away to the New Brave Girls’ Club Course, Soul Comfort

Hot dog!

I have the honor of sharing with you the details of a FABULOUS class starting next week…Tuesday September 24…with Brave Girls’ Club!!!

Do you ever have one of those surreal moments, where you look around and wonder how something this groovy happened?  I was at work, pouting pretty much cuz I couldn’t play hookey and paint all day…when I found out I was going to be sharing with you such a super-cool opportunity…that I get to give away an artsy-journaling class!!!

I shared with you earlier this summer new of a meaningful class I was taking with Brave Girls’ Club here, and then finished up the summer sharing with you the cover to the book I worked on throughout the class (check it out here).

And now Brave Girls’ Club has a new class coming, next week!!  And I am honored to share with you an incredible opportunity, to win a spot in the class!

Outstanding 🙂  And we will be holding the drawing, a random winner chosen out of the comments left on this very post…it could be any one of you, just leave a comment below answering this question:

What do you think of when you hear the words “Soul Comfort”?

WOO-HOO!!!  Here’s some class details:

To the tired, the exhausted, the overstretched…here’s an invitation…

Life can be simple.

What if we celebrated the brave act of….taking a break?

What if simplicity,
comfort, and quiet were the goal?

What if there really was a way to quiet the chatter in our minds and let us recharge our body & soul?

And what if it was fun, too?

Introducing a new eCourse . . .

Soul Comfort

Soul Comfort is a fresh new concept using art and journaling as a means to relax and comfort yourself and to get grounded while dealing with the craziness of every-day living.

This course if full of beautiful projects to fuel your creativity in very simple and easy ways that are meditational and relaxing , beautiful comforting things that will have your soul infused into them so that you want to keep them forever.

Brave Girls Club - Melody RossMelody (course creator and teacher) says, “I want to teach you some new habits of creativity mixed with simplicity that I have learned over the years. Being a recovering hoarder of supplies and techniques, this is really a new way to give yourself permission to do things simply but beautifully.

One of the most wonderful things about this course is that everything fits into one fabric tote bag . . . I wanted to create a whole course where all of the supplies fit into a tiny space so that you could take it everywhere you go…so that you could do it sitting on your bed, on your couch, with your family, do it with your children, in the car, wherever your day takes you. It’s incredible. This has changed my life. This has been something that I have used on my own and I can’t wait to share it with you.”

Brave Girls Club - Soul Comfort - Melody, Patrice, Kathy

You can count on this class to be . . .

  • enlightening, enjoyable, fun, & simple
  • customizable with many choices to fit your exact style
  • interactive, encouraging, and supportive with a private community on Facebook and weekly live chats
  • a beautiful experience that will help you relax, simplify, and enjoy your life 
  • a place to learn simple new ways to journal, plus the  ”Brave Girl” way to use stitching and such to create both beautiful things you’ll love AND peaceful relaxing moments
  • a place to learn exactly what nourishes YOUR body and soul, and how to fit comforting rituals into your day
  • something that you can finish without feeling overwhelmed
  • produced with the level of caring and  excellence and attention to detail that Brave Girls Club is known for

Brave Girls Club - Soul Comfort Stitchery

We’ve worked to narrow down things to quench the yearning of your soul…to be able to be creative but also to be sensitive to the mess that it makes and the time that it takes as well as the brain space it takes for complicated tools and  techniques. We will teach you fun ways to make beautiful things while relaxing yourself . . .and we’ll be participating in the class right along with you.

  • This will be relaxing, fun, and simple
  • You’ll be able to take it along with you, everywhere you go
  • Instead of overwhelming you with one  more thing to stress out about, this eCourse will help you relax, enjoy, and feel comfort and peace no matter what else is going on in your life.

Brave Girls Club - Go Create Something stitchery

It is YOUR time for some Soul Comfort. Come join us!

        • Supply List – simple, inexpensive supplies
        • Register Here – tuition $99
        • Class begins September 24. Access the online classroom through January 2, 2014.
        • Divided into 4 segments, with a new one released every two weeks to give you lots of space to breathe.

Brave Girls Club - Soul Comfort journal prompts

Remember: Leave a comment below, answering the question,

What do you think of when you hear the words “Soul Comfort”?

We will choose the random winner Saturday, September 21, 2013 at 9 a.m. PST.

A Giveaway, Oh My!

Giveaway 2Woo-hoo!!!  It’s time for an activity blitz!

We are building a project near and dear to our hearts, hoping to reach out to the art communities and family communities and Christian communities through the blog and Facebook and any other awesome online communities through all of you!

If you haven’t stopped by the SWAAK Pak page on our blog yet, please do so.  You will be able to read details there of the exciting vision we’re building.  This is a purely community-driven project, so we need YOUR help to get the Word out!  WORD!!

Now for the activity blitz part.  Several awesome and unique giveaways are getting started here with St John Family Studios Blog.

We will be having some fun giveaways as we work to build the readers on the blog and the Facebook page.  As we build the activity, we will be sharing updates and fun stuff as we move forward to the birthing of the Rocket Hub SWAAK Pak™ project and going LIVE!!

Okay.  So the first giveaway.

The first round is an AWESOME collection of ephemera!!  Wowsers!  This project is SO important, I will be sacrificing a collection of my personal horde collection: genuine-time-aged music pages, French book pages, old advertisements, vintage photos, shiny bits of stuff, sparkles, and more!  Oh, the fun you will have using these goodies in your canvases or your collages or your art journals or your hand-made cards or your love letters!  And if you’ve been following our blog for a while, you know how much I love collecting ephemera, so this will be no slouchy prize!!  And I will ship this anywhere. In.  The. World.  BangPow! *whispers* the world…

Your To-Do List:

1.  Follow the blog.  You can find the “subscribe” spot over there on the right-hand side of this posting.  Leave a comment and let the world know how cool you are for doing so 🙂

2. Run over to the St John Family Studios Facebook page and like it.  Come back and leave a comment here that you did 🙂

3.  Share the St John Family Studios Facebook page on YOUR Facebook page.  Hurry back and leave a comment that you did 🙂

4.  Share the link for this post on your Facebook page and let us know back here 🙂

5.  Share this post on your own blog and leave us some love here and let us know you did so, and you can leave a link to the post in your comment…that way everyone else will see the link to your blog, too!!

6.  This is the free-for-all-extra entry for the giveaway: Share this post on any other place that you share stuff.  I don’t know all of those places, but I know that you do!  Share it on twitter or pinterest (I have no idea if that kind of stuff goes there) or on your ning groups or anywhere that you have buddies.  Leave us a comment here to let us know 🙂

It’s as simple as that.  Simple.

The idea here is that with each comment, you’re entered a separate time into the giveaway.  You see?  You could enter 6 TIMES!!!  And if you’ve already liked the FB page or subscribed to the blog or some such thing, we TOTALLY appreciate you and aren’t leaving you out!  Just leave a comment about it and you’ll be counted in the entries for the giveaway!  

And the whole thing is gonna build as we go.  The BIG idea is to build MOMENTUM!!  So…

The first giveaway for the big brilliant box of beautiful ephemera (alliteration much?) will be given away when we reach the first milestone of 100 likes on the Facebook fan page.

You have till then to enter this thing as many times as you can. 

Then we will work towards the next giveaway (oooh, wonder what the prize will be???), that will be tied in to the next goal.  Your activities during this round will help you during the next round cuz you’ll be leaving comments then about these things you’re doing now…already liking the page and so forth…and you’ll have extra opportunities then with sharing our latest news then.  Makes total sense…well maybe only in my head, but hang in there, we’ll keep having fun stuff and prizes in the coming weeks!!!!!!!  And helping out now will help your entries then!

Whew!  So thanks for coming ’round and seeing what’s going on here with us.  We so look forward to gettin’ moving and dragging pulling bringing you along 🙂

XOXO