Reinventing Myself

You go through phases.  You have to reinvent reasons for playing, and one year’s answer might not do for another.

~ Yo-Yo Ma

Have you ever reinvented yourself?

I realize, only after having a year of hindsight, that I have been doing exactly that.  Or, mostly exactly that.  I’ve also been reinventing my bubble, my environment, my world.

Artsy Business Growth

The hubs and I have continued learning all kinds of cool stuff, adding to our repertoire of painting and faux textures.  We started with cleaning up and re-coating cabinets, and we have gotten really good at re-coloring cabinets with stain and with paint.  We have re-done some cabinets in a distressed, shabby chic style.  We have even rebuilt cabinet doors with metal screens as the interior panel!

Recently we started working in concrete, making counter tops and awesome floors and oh, my gosh!  Talk about potential for all kinds of arting!  Concrete has so many possibilities, from texturing to a myriad of cool coloring techniques.  And smoothing it and forming it and playing in it is awesome.

Changes with the Kidlets

I’ve also taken over our kidlets’ education entirely.  We were previously schooling at home but following a program.  That program has changed so much in the past six years that it is almost unrecognizable compared to the original program.  The last school year I battled frustration and burn-out and in some cases, anger.  The kids were doing way too much busy work and had become tied to the stupid computers.

So we’ve left that program behind.  We’re now enjoying a much free-er, livelier, exciting learning adventure together!! 🙂

Personal and Artistic Growth

And I’ve also been plowing through some personal and artistic growth and expansion…and rebirth.  I’ve been getting into the groove of not being totally involved in the making money for the family.  Being a bit of a control freak, this part has been harder that I thought it would be.  But slowly I am letting go of thinking I have to be in charge of everything 🙂

That release has led to all kinds of stuff.  I feel more relaxed, and more peaceful.  I have stronger faith.  I have more inspiring energy to give to the kidlets and to making stuff and to my art.  Which has also expanded, way beyond my most common outlet of art journaling.  My projects are getting larger in scale and braver.

Overall, I have more courage and I feel more, well, more ME.  Which then turns around and make all of this bigger.

So where does that land the blog?  I’ve actually been missing posting here, and I’ve been amazed that my little corner of the blog-o-sphere still has a life of its own.  I still have traffic and activity and see my work show up in the strangest of places!

My goal is to connect the blog to my other online stuff, like our website and Pinterest and all of the fun and creative stuff we’ve been growing.  I’d like to include some of the family adventures in life and in learning.  Where it goes from there, who knows…but I’m coming out of the fog that’s been enveloping me.

I’m ready to share again, to look out here again, to see the world again!!

Rock Quote Pic

Art is My Job…Finally!

When I started blogging, my hope that was someday, somehow, I would figure out how to monetize the blog, or my art, or both.

The goal was simple: make art, post stuff, get subscribers, make money.

Have you ever seen the episode of South Park with the Underpants gnomes??  You know, they steal underpants, the kids follow them one night to figure out where all of the underpants were going…and the kids find the gnomes with enormous mountains of underpants.  They ask the gnomes what’s going on, and the gnomes tell them:

  • Phase 1: collect underpants.
  • Phase 2: ?
  • Phase 3: make profit.

The boys ask them, what about phase 2?  All of the gnomes stop and start mumbling and look around at each other, asking Phase 2???

That’s kinda how I feel…I have no idea what happens in Phase 2.  I just know that I make art, I like to slap paint on stuff, and I want to get paid.  Then I have way more time to art.

Oh, and I also love to talk about what I love doing, and I love sharing fun tips and ideas and inspirations, I feel a NEED to give it back cuz that’s how I found this whole thing, by checking out other artists’ blogs and videos.  That’s how the blog really got going.

And I knew only that if I kept blogging, somebody would eventually look at it, and I might be able to build up the following from there.  Doesn’t that seem like what others do?  They blog a bunch, they get a bunch of regular readers, and somehow they get paid.  Advertisers just magically want to start paying them for space on the blog, I’m sure that’s exactly how it goes,right??

Okay, so I understand that’s not reality.  And I have found all kinds of other satisfaction from the blog.

So as we kept plugging along, praying for some opportunity to get paid to be artistic, I got more and more frustrated with “practical” jobs, “practical” choices and so on.  I was having more trouble smooshing myself into that mold.

Now, over the years, my hubs has painted houses, sometimes all white (boring) and sometimes with super-cool faux painting schemes.  He’s re-done cabinets and installed awesome wood-work and helped people with color schemes and decorating diy ideas.  We just hadn’t really pushed it to become a more consistent and financially supportive part of our lives.

But now we are doing just that. 

What I realized is that I want to get paid to paint.  Commissioned work is pretty cool because I know the piece is sold before I make it.  And the customer gives me the idea and the inspiration.

Painting a house is exactly that: a commissioned work. 

It’s not exactly what I was thinking I was working  towards, but it is so way much better than calling people all day long, looking to make a sale.  Stuck in a chair all day long, no sunshine, no exercise, and no painting.  That kind of day sucks for me.

And because I’m playing in paint and painting tools and Home Depot for jobs, I am thinking about other projects and inspirations while I’m working.  And while I’m working, I’m listening to music, chatting with the hubs, and finding new ways of doing things all of the time…

It’s taken a few jobs to get in the swing of the physical exertion part of my day, but I’m feeling stronger and more energetic and more excited all of the time.  In fact, I had a break because my oldest kiddo and babysitter was at camp.  I had to send the hubs to the job without me…and what did I do?  I painted the walls in my living room in between art projects at home!!

Here’s the point…

So often many of us pine for an artist’s life.  We ache for a way to make money arting so that we can spend all of our time arting.  We feel a pang of longing looking at the artful lives of those out there and feel like we’ll never get there ourselves.

If we can broaden our scope of possibility just a bit, we can find ways to live the life for which we’re pining.  We might be able to find other ways to explore our artistic selves and to financially support ourselves and our art supply habits! 🙂

And all we did was put up ads on craigslist, fairly often, and eventually built a free little website so that we could give that link on the ads.  People can go to our website and see explanations of what we do and see examples, as well as click over to our flickr page for more pics of our work.  We also believed in ourselves, that we could do it, and kept up our optimism.

And people do call us.  We do get work.  And I get lots of left-over supplies to play with!

pink room

Pink and white walls, black doors, and stencils and stickers to decorate.

Painted walls, trim, and stained and painted stair rails and posts.

Painted walls, trim, and stained and painted stair rails and posts.

 *Now I’m looking for someone to get brave and hire me to do a full-blown mural!  Then I’ll really be having some fun 🙂





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 🙂


Time is the Greatest Expression of Love, an Art Journal Page

Yesterday is but today’s memory and tomorrow is today’s dream.

~ Khalil Gibran

What’s your relationship with time?  Do you constantly watch the clock?  Are you a scheduler?  Or do you not worry about the time of day, going through time without giving it much of a thought?

Are you always running out of time, wishing that you had just a few more hours in the day?  Or does time seem to pass too slowly, as you wait?

When I was just a kid, I always thought that time was way too slow, that I’d never reach whatever the next milestone was.  As happens with most people, I guess, time seems to move faster and faster each year.  I watch my little ones grappling with time, and I catch myself thinking that I wish it would all slow down now.

I did give up wearing a watch years ago when I gave up being an employee for someone else’s business.  I get a pretty good feel for the time of day from the sun, and we basically follow the natural day-lengths around here.

I say fairly often to my business clients “Time is the one finite resource we have”, usually when I’m talking to them about how to build a business system as they plan for growth.

Christopher told me as we were courting, that our bond transcends time and space (which it does, by the way, I’m pretty sure we’ve done this before and will do so again).

And in church last Sunday, the preacher talked about how the greatest expression of our love is the gift of our time.  Wow…the gift of our time.  And our time really means our attention, don’t you think?

Time is a pretty big concept.

What is your relationship with time?

Your prompt, create an art journal page around time.  Explore what it means to you.  Use words, pictures, quotes, colors, whatever seems to express that weird, ethereal concept.  Time.









P.S. For an added bit of fun, here’s a side note on my page: For the background and inspiration before I even got to the theme of time, I played with school supplies.  I used watercolors, markers, and some flower stencils that I got in the pile of school supplies for the kidlets.  Nothing in that pile was more than a buck, yay!!  The clocks were all cut out of old magazines.  A little bit of glitter glue and some embossing powder added the pizzazz.

A Mother’s Day Journal Page

God could not be everywhere and therefore He made mothers.

~ Jewish Proverb

What a whirl wind week this has been for us!  Up till now, I have been so consistent with blogging and sharing with you…I hate it that I missed a couple of days this week!  One of the things you’ll find in the tips of any blog about blogging, is stay consistent!  As your readers come to expect your posts on a regular basis, whatever that expectation is, keep it going.

With that said, while my goal is to keep this blog consistent and regular (wow, I don’t mean for that to sound like a bodily function, lol), I got super busy this past week with our business.

We were blessed with a huge new client and a large base of referral clients this past week.  We have been hoppin’ busy, taking care of their orders and phone calls, hosting conference calls, and doing paperwork.  I am so thankful for the blessing and the new business, but it’s cut into my arting a blogging time a bit.  Not a complaint at all, of course, but it has been tough not being able to art as much as usual.

I did take the day off on Mother’s Day.  I had the most awesome Mother’s Day yet, mostly because the little ones are big enough now that they are all making me lovelies and cards and picking me flowers and so forth.  Christopher and my eldest grilled out fajitas and put together the most yummy Mexican Fiesta dinner for me.

And I did get in a bit of art time, enough to play in one of my art journals and make a bright and cheery page about the day.  I just finished it up last night…

This page is the result of me digging around in envelopes of Art Fodder™ I have stashed around my studio.  Sometimes just thumbing through the piles of stuff spurs the whole thing, and that’s definitely what happened here.  I wanted to play with the butterfiles from a card I had saved along the way.

I hope that all of you Mommies out there had a wonderful Mother’s Day and that the rest of you got the opportunity to call yours…

I did also spend some time reflecting on how much I love being a Mother, and how much my kidlets have taught me about love and life and the world and God.  I spent time reflecting on continuing to be the best Mom that I can be, and to continue striving to be even better throughout this coming year.

I will be back, Christopher and I are working on a couple of cool technique how-to’s for you, and I am still fixin’ to get ready to finish up my latest caulk canvas (I’ve been hiding from the hand-lettering that I’m going to attempt on the canvas).

Happy Freakin’ Friday…We Should All Be as Imaginative as This Kid

Not everyone takes the time to check out my Happy Freakin’ Friday videos, I know it’s sort of my own little joy…but this is well worth the peek.  This guy is innovative and believes in himself and in his dream.  We can all learn something from him…

Trust the Process Art Journal Page

The creative process is a process of surrender, not control.

~ Julia Cameron

Trust the Process.  Those are words of wisdom.  Words of simplicity, although not always words of ease.

In my alternate life, my business life, I spend a lot of time working with business owners, teaching them new concepts, helping them wrap their heads around new ideas that sound foreign and a bit overwhelming.  I find myself saying to them all of the time, Trust the Process.  It may seem like you’ll never figure this out, but if you’ll just trust the process, and keep moving along, you will eventually have a larger picture to view.  When you are able to look back on the larger picture that you have created, it will all seem to make sense.  It will look good, and you will know you have accomplishment.

I sound so smart, and like I really know what I’m talking about.  Funny, how is it that I can sound so smart, and really mean what I’m saying, but have so much trouble in my art life following my own advice??

Sometimes I know exactly, or at least mostly, where an art piece is headed.  Sometimes I have a vision in mind when I get started.  Many times, though, I have no idea.  I just get started.  What I am finding over time, is that whether or not I have the vision in mind at the beginning, somewhere during the process, I start disliking what’s coming out.  I start thinking I screwed up, or I shouldn’t have done that, or the whole thing is looking yucky.  I even go so far as wanting to abort the whole thing.

What I have learned from experience is to just keep going.  Don’t worry so much about the fact that somewhere during the process I start to hate what I am making.  Just keep working.  Just keep adding a little bit more.  Stop thinking so much about what I think I screwed up or the mistake I made.  Because as I move along, as I keep adding something, I start to like the whole thing once again.  Because as I try to work the imaginary mistakes into the overall piece, they become a beautiful part of the whole.

Sometimes, even, the mistakes become the best part of the whole dang thing. Sometimes, the mistakes turn out to be the best thing that I could’ve done.  Sometimes the mistakes lead me to use a different color, or a different texturing tool, or to add a layer. The mistakes can become something I try to do again later on another piece, and instead of remaining a mistake, they become a new technique!

And it turns out, my getting frustrated and thinking I have gone the wrong direction, has become part of MY process.  Weird, huh.

I think it has now happened that if I don’t have that emotional roller coaster to tie me to the piece, I don’t feel the satisfaction of accomplishment.  If the whole art piece was too easy, I’m bored and looking for the next thing.

This art journal page is a perfect example.  I was trying out some techniques for image transfer.  It did not go at all as planned or imagined.  In fact, I just ended up with a gooey shadow of what I was hoping for.  I really didn’t want an art journal page in my newest journal to be an abandoned page with a gooey lump.  That just wouldn’t do at all.  So I kept on going, simply because I had to make it look at least a little better.  By the time I had added some color and started incorporating the gooey mess into the colors, I started feeling a bit better.

By the time I got to the end, I got excited!  This page for me is quite a bit different than my usual journaling.  I actually used some text.  I used a very different color scheme, or maybe not such different colors, but way more colors on one page than I typically use.  I used some pastels that I don’t use much.  I made a quick foam stamp for some added dimension, and now I have a new texture stamp.

I sat with one of my kidlets at the kitchen table last night as she looked at the page.  She asked me what it was all about, so I bashfully read the text to her (I typically don’t share much text in my journals) and showed her where the “mistakes” were and how I got them to work.  She was able to ask questions and paraphrase what the meaning is.  She seemed to really get it.  So the whole page turned into something even more than anything I imagined…

So.  Trust.  The.  Process.

Neocolors, acrylic paint, ink, book pages, sumi ink, pastels

Is there a prompt here?  Do you ever find yourself fighting with trusting the process?  Okay, build your own Trust the Process piece, but try using a medium that you have sitting around but don’t use ever or often.  Pull out the pastels, or the markers, or the paint color that you never use.  If you usually use warm colors, go with cool colors.  Do something new.  And just keep going, just trust the process.  Be sure to let me know how it turns out!

Happy Freakin’ Friday! You Can Be a Creative Entrepreneur!

Are you one of those creative types who worries that using your creative gifts to build a business might hurt your creativity?  Have you fallen victim to the fallacy that entrepreneurs are somehow bad?  And that being an entrepreneur will mean that you sold out?

Without entrepreneurs, the world would stop spinning around and around.  Economies and everything else would stagnate.

And as a creative type, did you know that the whole creation of a business, however large or small, is a creative endeavor all in itself?  To build a business, you start with a concept, an idea, or a passion.  Just like in our art.  Then as you sketch out the basic idea, you begin to fill in the details, a little at a time, as you continue to see more details of the vision.  All with the hopes that someone out there will understand and appreciate the vision.  That your vision, your idea, can help someone.  If your vision can offer a solution to someone somewhere, then maybe he will pay you for your solution, through buying your product or hiring you to perform your service.

That’s the basics of it, right?  All of the other details involved in starting and building a business just go along with it.  Just like any other creative endeavor, once you’re committed, you’re going to see it through.  We all run into times when we’re plugging along and we start thinking that we really don’t like what’s happening.  What do you do when that happens?  You keep going, you keep adding more stuff, you keep pushing the paint around or adding layers or changing colors or whatever.  You just keep moving.  Don’t get stagnant, don’t give up.  The same goes with building a business.

Let the creation of your business be as inspiring and exciting as the creation of any other artwork.  Allow it to feed your soul and mind.  Allow it to go through the birthing process and be another outlet and expression for your heart.  You can be a successful entrepreneur, even if you never really thought of yourself that way.  All you have to do is rearrange your thinking and keep the faith.