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 🙂


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

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!!

Art Journal Page Turned Canvas, or Using Your Art Journal for Inspiration

I have no idea how it has been almost two weeks since I last posted on the blog!  Where does the time go??

Around here, I suppose that the time flies away from me when I get my head buried in art projects…I have so many projects floating around in my head, as I work to get them out as fast as I can.

I keep a list of things that I want to do, otherwise I’d forget them as other inspirations grab space in my head.  Maybe my head’s too little, whaddya think?  Okay, don’t answer that, lol.

We did get some listings finally active in the etsy shop.  I opened that shop ages ago, and have just been dragging my feet, or maybe a bit of fear was holding my little footsies back. I dunno.  But finally, I just started.  You can hit the link, or find the button over on the sidebar of our blog to check it out.  We will be adding more along the way, so keep checking!

That’s always the best way to go about new things, isn’t it?  Just get started?

I’ve also been enjoying some classes with Jeanne Oliver.  I sort of forget to ever sit down and watch video classes cuz I can’t seem to put down the paint brush.  But it always seems to help get my head straight to sit down and focus on something other than the images swirling around in my head at break-neck speed.  And Jeanne has such a lovely and calming way of talking, such a heart-felt and personal way of speaking directly to me (and everyone else of course!).

I have a number of fun little projects at the ready to bring in and show you here on the blog, not to keep taunting, but I will soon.

Beauty Blooms from Within closeup 1


So I played with the pastel chalks in the art journal, using them to “paint” tulips.  I so liked how the page turned out, I decided to take it to a canvas (it is listed in the new etsy shop!), or in this case, a wood board canvas.

Once again, my art journal play time became the inspiration for a canvas.  I love how it translated, I love that my art journal means so many things for me.

Beauty Blooms from Within Canvas 1

Prompt: Let your journal inspire you.  Find something that you think looks super-cool or something that moves you.  Take it to a larger format, a canvas, or a huge sheet of paper. Get it out of the journal and onto something you can hang on your wall.  It’s incredibly satisfying.  And don’t worry about whether or not it just looks like a huge art journal page hanging on your wall, sometimes that’s exactly what your wall needs.



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

Art Supply Sample Inspiration, and Playing with the Kidlets

The sun illuminates only the eye of the man, but shines into the eye and the heart of the child.”

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

December is speeding by, way too fast for my liking.  I hold my breath, hoping to hold on to the moments and slow them waaaaaaayyyyy dddoooooowwwwwwnnnnn.

Know what I mean?

This past week and half, I ended up lying in bed, feeling sorry for myself, nursing a totally stuffed up head and horrible chest cold that kept me from breathing a full breath.  And I am not the most gracious sick gal.  I pout, I whine, I pine for getting up and getting back to my normally scheduled activities.

I just couldn’t seem to kick this horrible cold, really, it kicked me.  Hard.  The only bright side was I got to nap a lot, which I don’t usually do (is that really a bright side?).

So I am behind, way behind, on everything.  And I feel a little bit like I lost some of my Christmas-song-listening-time.

Ah, but now I’m sort of back to it.  And the kiddos and I got to play yesterday after schooling was all done.  I have managed to get myself on a couple of art supply sample mailing lists, and so lately I’ve received several AWESOME packages in the mail with samples!!  Yee-haw!

It’s funny, while I was really just excited about getting some new artsy stuffs to play with, I hadn’t expected the joyful inspiration that would come out of it.  And not just my inspiration.  The kidlets were so excited to dig in and play, too!

They really are growing up, they’re no longer just mixing all of the colors on the paper and turning everything muddy grey-brown.  Now, they’re more purposefully putting color in places, thinking before they just smear stuff around.  I get the explanations of what they’re doing, they have stories and images and thoughts behind what’s going on to the paper or canvas or whatever.

And they’re digging in and trying new things, using gesso and collage and glue and found objects.  And they don’t get caught up (much) in what they’re supposed to be doing…they just play and create what feels good.

I love my little people.  They remind me what it’s all really about, that having a cold isn’t the end of the world, that not getting all of the official traditional stuff done is okay, that just hanging out and napping and playing is a great way to do it.

Ryland's World 3

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!