Pencil Box Thrift Store Treasure

I haven’t been in my art journal in a couple of weeks now, kind of weird for me.  It seems I have a number of back-logged projects fighting to get out and onto canvases and stuff.  You know, like old boxes and drawers and found objects and craigslist finds…I really just need more time, lol.

So this little project is not so deep and thoughtful, but it is whimsical and fun!

I found this awesome little metal pencil box at my favorite thrift store (which, on a side note, is closing and I just about fell apart when I found out the other day!!).  It was buried in a bunch of kid stuff in the back of the store, I was digging through the kids’ books when I found it.  So I brought home this puppy for only 10 cents!!  Yes, that’s right, my ten cent project!

And just so you know, I did sand it a bit and gesso the box before I started painting, just wanted to make sure the paint and inks and stuff would stick well.  Be sure to look closely at the black circle-spray markings on the outside of the box: yes, that is a stamp mark from a slice of LIME!

And at the end, I did have Christopher heavily spray the whole thing, inside and out, with clear polyurethane spray.  It seems to be helping with grubby finger prints.  Although, nothing seems to help with the kidlets grabbing the box so they can go through my stash of fave pens and pencils and erasers!

Have a super weekend, a lovely Easter, find something cool to spruce up, and I’ll see you next week!  And keep an eye open, inspiration and fodder can come from anywhere, I just found some pics on craigslist, of some denim re-purpose ideas that I’ve got to give a whirl 🙂  

I will be back, I am working on several new mixed media works that I can’t wait to share and get listed up on the etsy store!

Pencil Case 2

Pencil Case 4

Pencil Case 6Pencil Case 3

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

A Little Bit of Pen Love

After the whirlwind of Valentine posts, I got a little blog shy…or maybe just a bit blog tired…

And after my totally planned set of posts and projects for the holiday, I found myself playing with several projects, not really getting any one thing completed.  I just went kind of scatter-brained!

I do have some upcoming fun stuff to share, I’m almost finished with a gratitude journal made out of paint chips, a couple of junk journals, and some fun doodle-paintings on music paper.

I also spent the last couple of evenings with my now 8-year old girlie, making foam stamps and practicing origami.  I must say, I really suck at the whole origami thing, though.  She’s way better than I, and she thinks she needs to look at me to direct her, poor baby.

Home is Where My Heart Is 2


So, today’s bit of goodness, a bit of advisement for those of you that like to use pens on top of other layers.  I’ve had a running conversation with some good folks on fb, on Art of Wild Abandonment 2 (class via Christy Tomlinson and Junelle Halstrom Jacobsen), and it always seems to come back to the question of what kind of pen do I use to draw on NeoColors II (you can check out some my other ramblings on these little sweeties here):

My fave fave fave pen is the Pilot Uni-ball Vision.  It’s waterproof once it sets, it comes in different colors (although I mostly use black), it’s fine point, and it’s readily available at most office supply stores.  And maybe Wal Mart.

The waterproof thing is super important for me, cuz along with always remembering something else I wanted to add to my project after doodling, I am left-handed, and I drag my own hand through whatever I write…thereby smearing my own handwriting.  Constantly.

Now, no matter how awesome the pen, you still have to keep a couple of things in mind when you’re doodling all over your other stuff.  Gel pens and liquid roller ball pens work, but they can get all gunked up with the wax-y color from the wax crayons.

So, first, if you really wait long enough to let your colors dry all the way and set a bit, it will be easier.  I know that’s easier said than done, I’m totally impatient and mess with stuff way before it’s totally dry.  Try not to go too fast with the pen (tough for me when I’m doodling!).  Keep a scratch pad nearby, and you can scribble on it to get the wax or gunk or paint or whatever off of the tip and start doodling again.  And keep a light hand, if you press too hard, it’s way easier to get the ball or the tip all blocked with gunk.

When I am not feeling way too impatient to get to the doodling, I actually will stop and spray the project with clear, matte polyurethane.  It dries fast, and then you can do more work right on top of that.  It keeps a bit of a tooth.  You can doodle, use more paint, more NeoColors, do shading, glue more stuff on, and you don’t mess up what’s underneath.  And you can wipe a mark off if you’re quick, if you decide you don’t like the mark you just made.

Again, I’m not often patient enough to stop and do the step of spraying.  On my larger projects, like canvases, I do this step.

Now I’m off to a Friday night date with the hubby and kidlets…we’re going to JoAnn’s, I have a coupon!!!  I get to walk around one of my fave stores, holding hands with the hubs, looking at art supplies.  Doesn’t get much better than that 🙂

Have a great weekend, and let us know in the comments section if you have good tips on pens, what you like to use, how you cope with goo getting in the way!

Home is Where My Heart Is


Valentine Card with Caulk and Paint Chips, a Technique Video

Prompt: Have you tried using caulk for texture?  Try caulk in your art journal…These techniques work well on paper, as well as canvas.  And anything can be used as stencils and texturing tools in the caulk.  Try something new!

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.

Time to Make Some Valentine Cards!

Now a soft kiss – Aye, by that kiss, I vow an endless bliss.

~ John Keats

What’s a Happy I Love You Day without cards??

I do love to make my own Valentine cards.  I love to play with glitter and hearts and doilies. It’s all girl-like and sweet and lovey-dovey expressive.

It’s early enough in this whole holiday of love to still get your own cards made for your loved ones…your spouse or your secret crush or your bff or your kidlets.  So I’ll share with you where some of my own Valentine card makings have taken me this year (to see what I was doing last year check out this post).

This year, instead of using stationary-type cards for my Valentines, I used paint chips, oh, how I love the paint sample cards!  I know that some of my friends across the sea don’t have available the same cards I have around here, but for those of you here state-side, my personal favorite are the Behr brand paint sample cards.  The size is super-yummy, the edges are already rounded, and the card stock they use is perfect for all of my mixed media abuse.

If you pay attention (sometimes I totally forget to pay any attention, I get so totally distracted the whole time I’m in Home Depot, lol) you can get sample cards with the most awesome paint color names…they actually have some in the pink color family with names like “Pink Bliss” and “Sugar Sweet” and “Be Mine” and “Scented Valentine” and “Dreamy Cloud”.  How do those color names work for Valentine’s??

And you can go with using either side, or both sides, of the cards.  If you use the side with the colors, you can be careful and not cover up the color names so that they peek through in your card.  I tend to use the other side, with the printing, and gesso over it before I do much else.  But I have used both sides on various projects, and both work out great…

I won’t bore you with my play-by-play on what paint or what stamping inks I used, I’ll just share some pics with you and let you go from there.  If you do have any specific questions on anything you see, feel free to leave a comment with your question or drop me a note and I’m happy to fill in the blanks.

I will tell you this: it’s totally addictive, haha!  Christopher wouldn’t let me post the pics of all the Valentine’s I made, he says I didn’t need to put pictures of all my craziness out on the interwebs 🙂  But I had a blast, I had to actually stop myself at some point and get back to other art projects!

And Mom, if you stop by and see the pics, you still have to act surprised when you get your Valentine in the mail!!  (And I love you!!)

Valentine A Valentine B Valentine C Valentine D

Your Valentine Prompt: Get out there and grab some paint chips and make some Valentine cards!  You still have time!  You can even mail them to your own peeps, even if they live with you, the little ones will love to receive mail 🙂


NeoColor Background Technique Video

Okay, so I know the two posts are a wee little bit separated, but here’s a video follow-up to my earlier post on using NeoColor Water Soluble Wax Pastels (I call them water crayons, lol).  This is a simple and quick way to put together a background in your art journal, and it helps you get past the whole fighting-the-white-page-in-front-of-me thing…

Enjoy, and please let me know what you think.  I’m hoping the videos get better and better as we plod along!


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!

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!!