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!! 🙂

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.



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

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!

Something Wicked This Way Comes, Movie Lines as Prompts?

Something Wicked This Way Comes…an old favorite.  I think of that whenever the winds of change seem to be a’ blowin’…

Do you have favorite little tidbits and quoties and movie lines and personal jokes?  Things that it seems you’re the only one to catch them and appreciate them??

I have a plethora of them…and yes, I do know what it is a plethora (again, an inside joke?  or a movie line that maybe not everyone knows??)…

el guapo

Sometimes it seems like my whole day is a long string of movies one-liners and funny little jokes, things that sometimes have me feeling like I walk to such a different beat, that I don’t really fit in to the rest of the world’s cadence.

But, shoot, I sure do have a good time, lol!!

As I mull these things around in my brain, they all become potential art prompts.  Prompts that spur my art journaling or paintings or mixed media works.  Prompts that lead to journaling and blog posts and funny little conversations with Christopher (thankfully, he totally is on the same wavelength, and very rarely does he not catch one of my funnies, or I his).  Prompts become Art Fodder™, and the fodder gets added to the running list of ideas, and that list grows and grows, awaiting some fantastic arty goodness.

How do you keep up with ideas?  Do you sketch them, jot them down, record them into your phone, stick posty notes everywhere with thoughts on them??

Here we’re fixin’ to start some new things on the blog (that’s Texican, by the way, for preparing).  I’ve been threatening videos for the last few months, which has actually been a bit more technical than I once thought.  I kinda thought you just hit record, do some art, and TA-DA!  A cool technique video!  Not so, it seems.  So…as we get the computer nerd part of editing the videos all figured out, the videos will be forthcoming.

But for now, a little art journal love and prompt to share with you!  As I’ve mentioned before, I HATE to waste bits of paint…so I tend to grab another journal or book pages or folders and slap the paint down and use those things later for arting.  This is one of those, little bit of paint left-over (from an earlier prompt), I did sort of the ink blot thing, and left it.  Came back later and had a cool background to doodle on my hands.  And I love having the picture of my hands in one of my sketching/idea journals.

Hand Prints 1

Prompt: Trace your hands and doodle the insides.  Fill them up with the kinds of doodles you use to doodle on your book covers.  Or fill them up with your handwriting, a love note to yourself, or your favorite Bible verse.  As artists, our hands are one of our most favorite body parts, right?  So memorialize them, draw them, show them the respect!!


Childlike Wonder, and Prompt for You

Think what a better world it would be if we all – the whole world – had cookies and milk about three o’clock every afternoon and then lay down with our blankies for a nap.

~ Robert Fulghum

Coming down off of the holiday season is always a bit tough for me…I so enjoy all of the preparations and music and sparkly magic of everything.  And this year, in particular, was at moments, more chaotic than usual for us.  We had company for extended visits, which is unusual for our little family.

It all seemed a bit noisier than usual.  We were catching up on some school lessons, and I had a lot of business work to get done.  Suddenly, the holidays are over, and I have been mildly fighting that let down that happens after a huge amount of activity and focus.

Do you get the let down?

My kiddos, however, just don’t miss a beat.  They keep right on playing, imagining, creating.  They don’t lose any magic, doesn’t matter if it’s the holidays or the summer or right in the middle of a school week.

So I took some lessons from them.  I’ve been dressing like my four-year-old baby girl: skirts and leggings and layers of shirts, all put together just because I like them.  Not because they necessarily go together, and not just because the patterns match.  She’ll wear eight different shades of pink, with flowers and stripes and stars.  Then she’ll top it off with a sparkly pink tutu, Happy New Year tiara, and costume jewelry.  Oh, and her pink snow boots.

Okay, so I don’t have a tutu, but I did wear clothes that felt pretty and colorful and comfortable (and warm!).

Then I spent time playing with them at the kitchen table, trying all of the new crayons and markers and glitter glue that Santa put in their stockings.  We made colorful drawings of giraffes and little kids and hearts and rainbows and trucks.  We glued together little bits of sparkly wrapping paper and coloring book pages.  And we hung them all over the fridge with magnets.

When’s the last time you made a colorful drawing to hang on the fridge gallery??

To play like a child, to keep a hold of the childlike wonder of a child’s eyes…that is the gift that my kidlets continually bring to me.  They think that I’m teaching them since I run our school day, they think that I’m supposed to be showing them how to be in life.

When in fact, they show me.  How to play, how to let go of my angst, how to remember what the best things in life are.

Art Papers 2Yesterday afternoon and evening I spent some arting time playing and making some artist papers (I have no idea “artist papers” has some other meaning usually, I just kind of categorize these beauties as my art paper).  I use them in all kinds of projects, collage and mixed media works and in my art journals.  I hadn’t sat down and made a batch in some time now, and whew, it was so satisfying!  It seems I’m always working on a planned project these days, I have so many in my head waiting to get out.  But last night, I just enjoyed playing with paint and stamps and making a mess (and it has been too long since I last really thought about Child’s Play)!

The details:

  • I used colorful or interesting magazine full-page ads, spread a very thin coat of acrylic craft paint around on the page, followed by stamping shapes and textures on top of that with other colors of acrylic craft paints.
  • I use my fingers to spread the layers of paint on, no brushes involved in this play!  Sometimes I let layers dry before applying more paint, sometimes I just start with the next layer, not worrying about whether or not the last layer is dry.  
  • Sometimes I spread the layer of paint on the page and then take another page and press it onto the first page and get paint on both pages that way.  Makes for some added neat-o texture.
  • Then I stamp.
  • I typically use stamps that I’ve cut out of craft foam, bubble wrap, rubber bands wrapped around kids’ blocks, that sort of thing.
  • Sometimes I stamp in a pattern, sometimes it’s totally random.
  • All kinds of stuff works as stamps…Broccoli stems, plastic wrap bunched up, fingers, bottle tops, burlap, bubble wrap, q-tips, shapes cut out of styro foam packaging…no limits here.  I love making my own stamps!
  • I will make a bunch of pages at one time, kind of assembly-line-style.  I’ll end up with a few pages in the same color schemes, then I’ll switch it up on other pages.  Drying space is the only limiting factor here 🙂
  • These pages make for awesome fodder for other projects later!  I’ve made art journals, collages, mixed media projects, all using these papers (I usually spend some time just looking at and pondering my favorite pages for a while before using them…I also get wonderful inspiration from them!).
  • This is also a great use for those old magazines you have no idea what to do with…recycle?  give away?  save for a rainy day?  I watch craigslist for those people trying to give away magazines, too.

Art Papers 1

Your Prompt:  Go. Play.  And make some artist papers.  Pull out an old magazine and throw some paint on it.  Use your fingers.  Don’t worry about the mess.  And see what you can find around your house or your studio to use as texture stamps.  It’s fun!!

Ta-Da! Word of the Year and Looking Forward

I asked my hubby what he thinks of the whole word-of-the-year idea.  Asked him if he thinks it’s corny.  He says, It’s what we do, right?

Does he mean, the action of picking words-of-the-year, or does he mean the action of being corny??  So I chuckled, my I-have-a-private-joke-laugh, only it’s not so private, cuz he knows what I find funny.  Plural existence is sooooooo not lonely!

Word of the year.  Do you pick a word of the year?  Or do you stay with the whole resolutions bit?  Do you consider ahead of time what kind of theme you want running throughout your year?

Many years past, I have not so much thought about a theme for the year.  I have spent many New Years’ thinking about what kinds of things I wanted to accomplish that year, where I missed during the past year, and so forth.

I’m finding that considering the theme for my coming year, well, it feels WAY more positive.  What a brilliant way to look forward to 2013!  So after much deliberating, and much coffee talk with Christopher, I have the theme of the focus for MY year…the theme for St John Family Studios…drum roll, please…

Birdie spark Right

spark [spahrk]  noun  1. anything that activates or stimulates; inspiration or catalyst. 2. a trace of life or vitality.

verb  to kindle, animate, or stimulate (interest, activity, spirit, etc.).

I love it that our theme is a noun and a verb.  I love it that I think of glitter when I look at the word (cuz, ya know, everything is better with glitter).  I love it that the form of the adjective is sparkly, yay.

I love it that I can be inspired by a spark, and that I can be a spark of inspiration for someone else, by sharing our art and our conversations and our lives with each other.  I love it that some thing, any thing, can be the spark that stimulates my next project.  I love it that I can do the action of spark-ing, and stimulate interest or inspiration, which is the whole reason I blog and teach the kidlets and work with the youth ministry at Church.  I want to share as much spark as keeps filling my heart, brought to me by God, my husband, my kidlets, my Church family, other artists.  Spark finds me and grabs me and begs me to spread it around.

And I love it that spark is what I have in my heart and spirit.  I have the spark of God, the spark of love, the spark of inspiration, all of it.

It is the perfect word for my whole focus…focus on God, focus on my husband and children, and the focus on my art world.

May 2013 be the year of much spark for all of us.


Happy New Year, and St John Studios Anniversary!

Happy New Year!

It’s also St John Studios blog-iversary!  I can’t believe it’s been a year now, so much of this year has just flown by.

My goal at the beginning of the year was to post lots of art and work on connecting with others out in the cyber world, and after that to see what forms within the blog.

I’d have to say, it’s been a tremendous success!  I have posted lots of art and technique tips and we’ve made lots of artsy friends!  I’ve learned about what works and what doesn’t work so much on the blog.  I’ve learned how to use the blog interface and I’ve learned how high-maintenance it can be at times.  I’ve even had to learn to deal with occasional technical issues with my hardware and with the software!

What has been most amazing to me throughout this year is which posts and which art images get viewed repeatedly.  It never seems to be the posts that I think are awesome.  I’ll post something that I think is thought-provoking and inspiring and beautiful (for a great example see Why Do You Art), and then it’s the post that gets the least amount of traffic.

Then I’ll post something else that I think is not nearly as good, or that later I’m even a bit bashful that I even posted it.  That will be the one that ends up getting the most views over and over (my most viewed is What Are Your Love Words).  The picture of the journal page on that post is one of my most viewed images on the web, coming up on a google image search within the first several pages out of over a billion image results!  It’s funny, the whole page came out of playing with a new set of Faber-Castell art markers I had just gotten in the mail!!

So, as I look forward to a brilliant year in 2013, I look to where the blog might go.  I look toward where my arting and inspiration will take me.  I look toward taking some more inspirational art classes.  I look toward monetizing some of my artwork.  And I look toward making more connections and more art friends out there.

I hope y’all have as much joy and hope and love and blessings in the coming year as I’ve had in this past year…and as much as I intend to give and share this coming year.  I thank you for your support and encouragement this year, because without you, I would’ve stopped blogging long ago…and I look forward to continue sharing art with you and continuing to get to know you and your art as we all inspire each other and our art!


Snowman Christmas 2

Gifts from God, a Journal Page

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.

~ Romans 12:12

I played a bit further with the ideas from the “Sketching my Breakfast” art journal pages, and Ithen I moved along to the next video in my class…which took all the sketching to a new journal page.

Although I had sketched coffee cups and muffins, my next project turned into cuppie cakes.

The kiddos one-by-one came along and asked me to make cuppie cakes just like the ones in my page, they looked so yummy!  I guess you know you’re successful when…right??

One of the most fun parts of this fun, luscious little project is the “canvas” part of the page.  In our class, Miss Junelle told us that she likes to gesso together book pages before she uses them as a place to sketch and watercolor…

Now, I use lots of old book pages for lots of things, but I simply couldn’t wrap my head around the way she kept saying that she gesso’d three book pages together.  I listened to her on the video like 5 times, trying to see if that’s what she really meant.

Well, let me tell you, that’s what it was all about!  I pulled out some of my extra book pages and gesso’d them together (I would normally Mod Podge them).  And to my delight, not only did it work, but it gave the paper canvas this wonderful feel, and crunch, and texture.  Nothing like the stiffness and bendy that comes from Mod Podging the whole thing together!

What a dream!  And not only is the texture awesome, but the edges are really easy to fray up a bit, adding to the look and feel of tattered pages.

I love it!!










Prompt: Try using old book pages as a canvas…you can gesso the pages together to make a thicker batch to work on.  NeoColors work wonderfully on the gesso’d pages!  And if you haven’t read my Ode to NeoColors, check it out for some fun ways to use water-soluble wax crayons!