End of Summer Break

I’m not sure that I originally set out to have a summer break, but here it is, the end of summer…and I haven’t worked on the blog in three months!

I have been keeping up with all of you through reading your blogs and answering comments.

At the beginning of the summer I took on a new job, outside of my home, for the first time in more than five years.  It has been quite the adjustment!  Between getting trained, adjusting schedules with the family, and church commitments, I have been fighting for time to create and get on the blog.

I did finish up the class I started and blogged about in May.  I learned so much about myself and about what directions I want to take!  And I did some super fun playing in a new art and personal journal…very different from my typical art journaling.  So often I use my journals as a practice forum for larger art pieces and not so much about journaling, it was quite the refreshing change for me.

I still get in a tiny bit of arting every day, I keep several projects going at all times so that I can add to them a little bit at a time.  Drying time happens while I’m working 🙂

And I’ve been organizing some exciting upcoming projects.  I can’t wait to share with all of you as they come to fruition!

My oldest kidlet starts high school tomorrow ~ I can’t believe it!  Seems just like a moment ago he was still snuggling in the crook of my arm listening to my off-key lullabies.

So know that I’ve kept you all on my mind and in my heart.  I will be working on regular posts once again, bringing you news of my little art corner of the world.  I hope you’ve had an exciting summer as well, and thanks for being here with me.  The blog has kept a life of its own during this quiet time, I’ve been truly blessed and amazed with how much activity has continued 🙂

xoxoBelieve

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Transitions, Cheers to New Beginnings All Over Again!

If nothing ever changed, there’d be no butterflies.

~ Author Unknown

Here we are again…I fell out of the blog-o-sphere for a week and a half.  How does that even happen??

I certainly don’t aim to bore, to fill you in with too many details of crap going on in our daily lives.  That’s not why we read blogs, is it now?  We want to be entertained, find something inspirational, or a bit of enlightenment.  I have just been a bit buried under the things that come along with daily life…

I have been arting like crazy, it seems that inspiration is striking from every turn.  Amen to that, right??

And I have also decided to jump into an online class, although I sort of was thinking that I wouldn’t have time for one any time soon.  And I sort of haven’t had class monies in the budget.  But this one called me, told me to bite the bullet, so to speak.  I couldn’t get past it, couldn’t find a way to talk myself out of it.

I probably won’t share too much of my work from the class, but I will send you over to check out what’s going on in…Life Restoration, aka Soul Restoration 2, with Melody Ross at Brave Girls Club.  It’s not your typical art class.  I didn’t know exactly what I was getting myself into, other than it’s a class about figuring out how to purposefully live your life.  Right.  Totally looking for that.

Of course, I have spent many-an-hour and much energy in my life working through self-help courses, books, art work, sales career seminars (which are all about building things on purpose) and a myriad of groups and videos and clubs…oh, pretty much anything that helps build and grow and that kind of stuff.

So why on Earth was I being called to yet another class just like all of the others??

I know now.

I have been working through the assignments, and while Melody has lots of great art technique videos (I have actually learned a few things, woo-hoo!), what’s truly amazing is the stuff I wasn’t expecting.  Plowing through garbage that I have been trying to figure how to clean out of my closet, finding the freedom to let go of the things that I didn’t realize I was holding onto so tightly.  Bringing into consciousness those things that I was longing for and hadn’t quite breathed into focus.

This comes right after I finished a class and self-examination with my church Pastor.  Finding Your Spiritual Gifts.

I feel a bit weird at the moment, a bit cloudy.  You know how when you’re cleaning the swimming pool, everything you stir up as you’re cleaning kind of makes it all look cloudy, and you’re wondering why you stirred it up to begin with?  But then when it all settles back down once again, you see how much cleaner it all is than before.  I’m right in the cloudy stirring at the moment.

As artists, I think we are continuously re-assessing.  Not just ourselves, but our art, our surroundings, our relationships.  We like to see things in new light.  It’s just what we do.

Right I was getting started on this class, I was finishing up this canvas.  Eventually I think I will add some text, but for now, it is what it is.

What the caterpillar calls the end of the world,

the Master calls a butterfly.  ~ Richard Bach

ButterflyButterfly closeup 1Butterfly closeup 2

Butterfly closeup 3

How-to Make a Mini Art Journal Envelope Album Smash Book Thingy

Book FrontBook BackI’m so pleased so many of you grabbed a download of the text sheet, that so many of you found it helpful or inspiring!

In the meanwhile, I have been totally consumed this past week by what started out as a random project.  What’s funny, this little project was nowhere on the list of up-and-coming art fodder!

I do have a number of random little books around, moleskine books, notebooks, old-books-turned-journals…little places that I slap down extra paint or scraps of papers.  Over time, they become backgrounds for other art journaling, just building up a bit at a time as I have leftovers.

But they are not projects that I focus solely on at any one moment.

This little book is totally different.  I started it, then I got totally into it, and then I realized just over a week had gone by and I hadn’t worked on any other art projects at all.  No canvases, no sketching, no blogging, nothing.  Just this little book.

Do you have projects come out of the blue and grab you that way?  Something so unexpected, something so unrelated to all of the “should-do’s” on your list?

It’s also one of those projects that grabbed the whole household and the neighbor children!  Many of the moments I spent playing with this little book was with a kid standing next to me or sitting with me, watching whatever was happening.  They had lots of questions and loved digging through the piles of stuff that ended up spread out all over the table as I was playing (oh, and the mess I have to clean up now!).

It’s also a funny little project, kind of a throwback to a bit of scrapbook-style playing.  Haven’t done that in a while, either.

I did not have a purpose or much of a plan in mind when I got started, I just wanted to put some bags and envelopes together and stitch the binding.  That’s really what got this whole thing started, I just wanted to use a decorative stitch on the binding and see how it worked with the bags.  And I had a super cute See’s Candies bag from a couple of years ago in my stash.  That was the whole plan.

As you’ll see in the pictures, it turned into quite the book.  I have used it as a favorite Bible verse book, I am going to gift it out, to a wonderful new friend (of course, after I’m done just holding it and flipping through the pages, haha!).

And what started out as a project using up some of the stashed envelopes and saved bags and little things and stuff I have stashed around,

Next time, I will use one less envelope or bag, it got kind of thick by the end of cramming all of that stuff in there.  I’ll also plan ahead a bit on how to tie the whole thing together, this time it was an afterthought.

It’s a bunch of pictures, but I want you to see how it all went together.  I didn’t think until I was well into it, about shooting pics of how I put the bags and envelopes together.  I really just stacked them together, flipping the ends of the bags back and forth, and flipping the envelopes vice versa, and then sewed straight down the center.  I did make a fold first to sew along.  I used a decorative stitch, so not only is it pretty but it’s a stronger stitch to help hold it all together.

Also, I used the bottom flap of one of the larger bags to make the flap.  So that bag is not folded in the middle, the fold lines up with the middle of the other pieces.  And one last thing, I did put a card stock piece of junk mail inside the cover paper bag to sturdy up the cover.  You could use a book like this for all kinds of themes, Bible verses, fave quotes, love notes, family pics and events, the list could go on and on…

Book SpineBook Page 1

Book Page 2

Book Page 3

Book Page 4

Book Page 5

Book Page 6

Book Page 7

Book Page 8

Book Page 9

Book page 10 w insert

Book Page 10

Book Page 11

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I used lots of the pockets for other little doo-dads, little cards with scripture verses, tags, and cards with song lyrics.  It also has space to add cards or papers and that sort of thing.

Maybe now I can move on to the next project, but I have the little book bug BAD.  I do have a couple of other books that I’ll show off in the next couple of postings, a file folder booklet, envelope smash book…who knows how stuck I am!! 🙂

Princess Bella’s Birthday Soiree, with a Polka Dot Cake and More!

Crown

I can’t believe that Princess Bella’s Birthday Soiree was already two days ago!  I have been fixin’ to get ready to post some pics since then, but so many other happenings kept happening!

So let’s get straight down to it.

The cake.  Oh, wow, what can I say.  The hubby is the most brilliant, wonderfully creative, enabling kind of guy.  I know this is all about Bella’s birthday and the cake and stuff, but I just have to say super quickly, my hubby rocks!  He doesn’t ever try to damper my whacky party ideas, he doesn’t try to bring me down to Earth and tell me I can’t do anything.  He actually jumps right in and has a blast with me, and even goes so far as to make it even more awesome than I had imagined!!!

Okay, so back to the cake.  I wanted some kind of cake befitting the Royal Princess (ya know, I hope that doesn’t start sounding like we do nothing but spoil our children, although we might, Bella just really was born in to this world to command it, her personality!)…and it needed to be a total girl cake.

And here’s how it finished up:

Cake

And here’s what was in the middle:

Cake Balls Baked

I know, polka dots!  That is all Christopher’s doing.  I’ll include here a couple of pics of how to polka dots were put together, I might come back later and do a super-quick how-to on that whole thing 🙂

Cake Balls Cake Balls 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But on to the Birthday Banner.  That has become some kind of tradition in our home, at least the kids think that they are supposed to have a banner now for every birthday and holiday event.  My fault…so this time around I just started grabbing stuff out of my fabric stash and throwing it into the sewing machine.  And the kids colored the crown cut-outs to add as decorations.

Swag

Swag 2

Swag 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

And yes, that’s some of my paintings on the wall, Bella wouldn’t let me move them for the party!

Now, the party favors.  We don’t do huge parties with all kinds of kids and people over.  Remembering our kidlets are home-schooled, so we don’t have to outdo all of the birthday parties of the whole kindergarten.  We do have a couple of buddies that play with ours just about every day, so we have them over with a couple of close friends.  So I don’t have to put together an enormous pile of party favor loot.  I got to really go for it 🙂

Party Favors

I made the treat bags out of pieces of denim from my stash, all from old pairs of blue jeans.  Jeans that have been outgrown, jeans that have gotten holes in the knees, jeans that finally have too much paint to wear in the light of day.  And I used boys’ jeans and girls’ jeans.  Some had sections that I could use as a whole piece, and some I had to piece together with patches from other pieces.  I also frayed the edges of everything a bit and left the seams on the outside.  For handles, I used lace and ribbons from the stash box.

Party Favors 3I worried throughout the week as I made the little bags, by the way.  I kept thinking they were looking dumb, or that they were a bad idea, just like going through hating some other piece of art I’m creating.  Not sure why I’d get away with it on party favors…

But I just kept sewing, and as the kids were in and out all week, they’d see the little bags coming together.  They were so excited when they finally got to have their little homemade artsy bag creation!  And they’ve been carrying them around with them since, including the neighbor kids!  They’ve all got the little journals I made them stuffed in the bags, along with video games and plastic jewelry and doodads and candy…they just carry their little things in them, even the boys!  It also helped that the bags had lollipops and ring pops and tootsie rolls and starbursts and plastic gemstone rings, too.

Here’s a quick peek at the journals I made them, a la clear packing tape and rubber bands (like the duct tape journals you see all over the place) and patterned papers and cardboard-painted covers.  And just like with the bags, the kids all watched me making the little books and squawked with delight when they finally got their hands on them and could start drawing in them!

Journal cover Journal cover 2 Journal inside

We cooked out burgers, and ate yummies and cake and ice cream, and Princess Bella delighted in all of the rightful attention she was getting.  And everyone showered her with gifts of love and sparkles, a whole pile of dress-up fodder…which she has been donning and trying on and admiring and wearing for the paparazzi.

It’s funny.  I didn’t have to run out and buy anything to do all of this preparation.  I just dug around in my boxes and bins of stashed fodder…so much of it was recycled material, or free craigslist stuff, or thrift store finds saved for a rainy day.  I spent a lot of time, and put a ton of love into it all, but not so much in monies.  But this will be one of those birthdays she’s gonna remember as one of the most magical and love-filled parties ever!

 

Works of Inspiration, or Really, It Didn’t Seem Like Work

Why do we always call our new stuff “Works”?

When I’m arting, when I’m really enjoying it, I don’t feel like I’m working.  I feel like I’m playing.  I feel like I’m the luckiest gal in the world, that I have some way to get the stuff in my head out and onto something in front of me.  That I’m lucky because I gave up the fear, and instead, I just get brave and get the stuff out…however it turns out.  It just happens, that with practice, I’ve gotten better at getting the image in front of me to at least somewhat represent the image I was holding in my mind’s eye.

So why “Work”?  Why don’t we call it “Play”.  These are all my original created pieces of Play.  Heehee.  How well will that go over??

I’ve got a couple of new things I’ve been wanting to share.  And I tried something a bit new for me.

I created these on canvases of wood.  Ooh, fun!  I spend a lot of time pondering supplies in the hardware store, and I’d been thinking about getting a sheet of wood cut up into different size canvases.  I finally had my hubby help me pick out the wood and sizes and so forth.  We ended up with a sheet of 1/4″ wood, it’s really pretty, although I can’t tell you what kind of wood.  Not that I wouldn’t tell you, but the sign just said “wood panel sheet” or some such thing.

But it’s pretty wood, the grain is nice, it wasn’t full of splits and that sort of thing.  The guys at the store ripped the sheet into the main big pieces that I wanted for no extra charge, and then we do some additional cutting at home as I decide on the sizes.

I do (or I do have Christopher) spray the wood with clear polyurethane before I do anything else.  That keeps the wood from soaking up too much of whatever else comes next, usually gesso.  And he lightly sands it after the spray.  Ahhhh, what a lovely surface to paint!  The only caveat I have here for you, I tend to do a lot of my backgrounds using my fingers…and by the time I was done with a series of pieces on the wood canvases, my fingers were getting a bit sore!

I tell you all of this to tell you this: the finished product looks awesome, not just the same ole canvas, and it’s waaaaay cheaper than purchasing a clay wood canvas for working, I mean playing, mixed media.

My inspiration for both of these lovelies comes from the Book of Psalm, these are from the NIV.

You can also see these babies over on the etsy shop (more closeups of the tree canvas over there)…Someday I will work on prints, but for now, the originals are what’s available.

Sunshine

 

For the sunshine on this canvas, I also got to play with something new: an awesome vintage lace stencil from Christy Tomlinson.  I looooooove my new stencil!!  I made the happy little sunshine with caulk on a book page from an inspirational book on love.  I think it turned out beautifully!!

Sunshine closeup

 

Sunshine verse

 

Tree 1a

 

Tree verse

 

YOUR PROMPT:  I’ve said this before, now I’ll say it again.  Go browse the hardware store.  It’s amazing how many things are so well suited for arting.  Find something you haven’t thought about using in your artwork before, and put it to good use.  You’ll find some great prices on really cool stuff there!!

Make a Gratitude Journal ~ Out of Paint Chip Cards!

Ahh, so often I can be super wordy…I know, I know, that’s probably way understating it, lol. This time, though, it’s all about the pics.  I will direct you back to a previous blog post, Thank-You For’s, to see our family philosophy on gratitude and thanking God for all of the wonderful goodness He brings into our lives.

Nope, not too many words of explanation needed here.  Only that I decided to make my own gratitude art journal, using paint sample chip cards as my journal pages, and making space for a month’s worth of thank-you for’s.  And the rest is pics of the lovely mess I made 🙂

This is the cover.

GJ Cover

They’re connected via a large binder ring at the top corner.

GJ 8 GJ 7

GJ 6 GJ 5

GJ 4 GJ 3

GJ 2 GJ 1

Hallmark Card, or Mixed Media Canvas for Valentine’s Day?

This is the third mixed media work in my Valentine canvas series.

I built up the texture-y background with tissue paper as the very first step.  All the other paint, marker, NeoColor, stamp ink and paper all went on top of the tissue paper layer.  I did not gesso in between the tissue and the other stuff.

I welcome any questions, this was a time-consuming and tedious work, as I painted the stripes and all of the shading.

But for now, I am off to play on this beautiful Saturday with the hubs…he’s fixin’ to start cookin’, and we’re keeping our Another Perfect Saturday roll going 🙂

Have a great rest of your weekend…and go make something for your honey for Happy I Love You Day!!

True Love

True Love Canvas Closeup 3True Love Canvas Closeup 2

Always Be Courting, a Caulk Canvas and Technique Video

Oh, my gosh!  I missed a Valentine post yesterday!  The shame…but I may have an okay excuse, I was helping the teenager with finishing up his science fair project.  Which of course was due today.

I don’t think I ever got a science fair project completed earlier than the night before, either.  And I’m pretty sure my parents would say they were always up late the night before with me, griping that I waited till the last minute to get it done.  Ha!  I did turn into my parents!

I must say, though, that I had no idea that you could measure the speed of light at home using a microwave and a bag of chocolate chips.

So here we are on Friday, the Friday before Valentine’s Day.  You still have the weekend to ponder prepping your love notes and making lovey-dovey projects for your heart-throb.

I am using the heart-theme to its full advantage 🙂

Always Be Courting

This canvas and video is one of my very favorite techniques.  It started a while back when Christopher saw that I was fighting the whole texture problem.  I would spend so much time adding layers, 2-D layers, of visual interest…which resulted in the look of texture, but not so much in actual tactile texture.  While a lot of art journaling techniques are all about adding the visual kind of texture, I was looking for tactile texture.  Something you can reach out and touch.  Something different, something that added serious dimension to my works.

Along came Christopher with a pile of tubes of caulk.  Ahhh, my texturing life got really exciting from there!  You can see one of my very first works using the caulk here (which is still one of my favorites, probably because of the emotional tie I have to it as my first caulk canvas, lol).

This video does NOT go into detail on painting the caulk texture.  It is a look into working the caulk, both on the background and on the foreground.  Color will come later.

And…this is my first appearance on video, for the intro.  You will see, I was extremely nervous, feeling super bashful, and clearly aware of the camera.  I am hoping with practice and time it will feel more natural.  So be nice.

Without further ado, here ya go.

Valentine Party Favors, Perfect for Little Valentines

Here in the St John household, we love to party, er, celebrate.  We have themed dinner parties (which are a total blast), we have Saturday night cookouts (no matter the actual day of the week), and we totally we make our own cakes for all of the birthdays.

Valentine’s Day is no different.  We decorate and make cookies or cuppie cakes or some such thing.  Sometimes I even make them from scratch…and we have some kind of wonderful dinner together, with red and white tablecloths and the works.

Valentine treats 3This year I made some cute treat holders for yummy little chocolates for the kidlets (I am one of those mommies that saves everything) using toilet paper tubes and paper towel tubes.

You just decorate ’em up, use tissue paper to wrap the goodies and pull through the tubes, and tie off the paper, just like a candy.  Voila!

Valentine treats 2

On a side note, I did make a bunch of these for the elder daughter’s birthday in the fall…they were a HUGE success!  I filled them with candies, little plastic Pokemon figurines (the theme of the party), and plastic rings and bracelets.  For those I used paper towel tubes…the kids loved them, and they were not just plain ole plastic bags from the party store.

How-to Make a Faux Wood Grain, Our First Technique Video!

Drum roll, please…

Here it is…Our very first technique video (crowd goes wild)!!

I know, I know, took a long time in coming, and the video was way more intensive the technique itself, so no worries for you 🙂

Let me know what you think, we kept it simple this first time around, and as Christopher is the techie nerd in the house, he gets to hold the magic spot of the first one…so be sure to leave him some props here in the comments section, so that he’ll keep editing the videos for me!