Breaking the Counting Habit and a DIY Art Journal

I have had a certain habit quirk neurosis.  Okay maybe not my only one, but my most serious.  Counting.

I don’t mean like normal counting that might come up in your regular daily life.  I mean, like, I count.  A lot.

What do I count?  Oh, I count how many days till this or that, kind of normal.  I count stairs, going up or going down, no matter how many times I’ve counted them before.  I learned a while back that lots of people count stairs.

I count how many songs on my playlist, I count how many people have looked at a particular blog post or how many followers I have.  I count pages left in my sketchbooks and art journals.  I count my art journals.  I count weeks till Christmas, how many nights’ dinners worth of groceries I have in the kitchen, and how many dollars I still need to earn to pay the rent and the electricity.  The hubs can look over at me and know when I’m counting something.  In fact, I didn’t realize how often I was counting before I spent many years with him asking me from time to time what I’m counting…

It may all sound innocent enough.  But I learned something.  Stick with me here, I do have a point.

My counting can get in the way.  It’s an old pattern that keeps me from realizing certain goals and dreams.

Here’s how it goes…when I’m feeling a bit anxious or a bit doubtful, usually about finances, I start counting.  Usually I’m counting time or money.  It’s like biting your fingernails as an outlet for the stress (although I have conquered that monkey through art journaling, you can read about that here).  But instead of biting my fingernails, I count.  I even use my fingers to do the counting 🙂

The big mistake here is that when I’m so focused on the counting of the money or the time, I’m focusing on the need.  How many dollars I still need to get something done.  Or how few days I have to get it done.

Seriously??  I have been totally focused on the lack, not on my God-given blessings and abundance!!  I couldn’t even see it, I thought that I was so optimistic and so good at being grateful and faithful and so focused on creating a life of abundance.  I couldn’t see what I was doing to get in my own way.

Crikey!  I really hadn’t looked at it that way until very recently.  And you know what happened next?  I started counting, way less.  I almost don’t count at all.  And next?  Well, next we started getting more calls for cool painting projects.  I started getting through some artist tantrums that I was having.  I started sleeping better.  I even got more patient with the kidlets.

The point in this little story is this:

Are your little quirks helpful or do they stunt your growth?  Do you even know what your little quirks are?  And if they are not so helpful, can you find another to replace it, that might help you on your chosen paths?

As artists, we have so many options to help us release and express our emotions and work through junk.  We have the opportunity to continue learning and growing and building our brain and our soul.  Whatever medium we choose at any given moment, we can receive messages from our souls, from our Creator, from our subconscious.

Prompt:  What’s your go-to activity to relieve stress?? 

*I needed a routine to help during my regular counting hours.  I’m exploring some options, but one that I’m trying to help with a daily routine is ROOT, Lisa Sonora’s 30 Day Journal Project.  It’s actually only day 2, so you can still jump in on this free journaling challenge.  For me, this is a great motivator to get past some old baggage I’ve been carrying that kept me from journaling, for about the past 12 years.  30 days seems like a huge commitment to me, so I’ll let you know how it goes 🙂  I did make my own art journal for this journaling and for another journaling project that I’m practicing.  This book has me inspired and makes me feel good.

Cover made of cardboard, gesso, spray ink, paint, glue, ink, stamped letters

Cover made of cardboard, gesso, spray ink, paint, glue, ink, stamped letters

DIY Book Back

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DIY Book Pages 2

I used all kinds of papers, book pages, paper ream wrappers…

DIY Book Front Page

 

 

 

DIY Book patterned pages

Patterned papers…

DIY Book Pages 4

Old advertisements…

 

 

DIY Book Pages 3

Junk mail with gesso…

DIY Inside Cover

Music paper…

 

 

 

DIY Book Pages 1

Glossy picture book pages…

I think it has about 90 pages.

I think it has about 90 pages, including many blank pages of drawing paper. All cut to size and bound with the two rings…and I got to play with my crop-a-dile to punch all of the holes!

 

How-to Make Your Own Stencil, the Easy Way

I have been making my own stamps for a while now.  I have made a few of my own masks as well.  And I have learned a lot from both, like which materials are easy to cut, which materials absorb too much product versus which ones don’t absorb enough, and so on.

What I haven’t done much is make my own stencils.  I’m not sure why, it seems like a natural next step, right?  I think that I had some crazy block, telling me that stencils are always made out of that plastic sheet stuff, and who can actually cut a neat, crisp stencil by hand out of that stuff??

Silly, I know.  That’s a look into my personal type of hangup.  I have a creative difficulty: I can’t always see the possibilities from my neatly-packaged black-and-white world.

Seriously?!?!

How can I possibly be an artist, you ask.  How can a creative type be stuck inside the proverbial box?  I dunno, but sometimes I find myself sitting in the middle of a really tiny box, and I never know what’s going to burn it up around me, freeing me out in to the world of fearlessness and color.

This time, it was making my own stencil.

I can’t tell you how joyful and good I feel to finally have gotten out of that stupid box!  I love stencils, love them so much!!  I fondle stencils at the store, I pine for them, I ooh and ahh over stencils I see other artists playing with in youtube videos…and I ache that I can’t just run out and buy every single one of them (I use my art supply monies on color, everything else I improvise, I have to have colors)…

I was just sitting here, pondering my next journal page, and I started pawing through the ole art cabinet.  I was actually thinking of cutting more shapes out for another stamp.  And that light bulb up above my head started to flicker and turn on.  Duh.

The easiest stencil ever.  Craft foam, if you haven’t ever played with it, is the greatest thing since, well, since bubble wrap and punchinella.

Craft foam is really does cut like butter, it’s fairly forgiving, you can draw on it, you can layer it, you can use it to make stamps and masks, and as it turns out, it makes great stencils!  AND, it’s cheap and commonly available!!

Stencil 3

Here’s the how-to part of this ramble:

1. Draw some shapes on the foam.  Start with something simple.  I used circles the first time.

2. Cut out the center of the shapes, in my case, the center of the circles.  Leave the outer parts in tact.

3. I went back and trimmed some of the outer edges so that the corners of the foam sheet didn’t show up in the stenciled images afterward.

Stencil 2

Ta-da, a stencil!

The trick really is to play and practice a bit.  After the simple design, you kind of get the feel for seeing the design that you’re leaving after you cut out the centers.  It took me a couple of tries before I figured it out.

 

 

The foam is also not absorbent, which I like.  When I use the stencils with sprays, the spray that collects on the stencil just kind of sits there, which makes for an awesome flip-side ghost print.  Just flip the stencil over and press.  Usually I can get a couple of presses out of it, depending on which sprays I’m using.

Stencil 1

 

And they also work great as caulk stencils because they have thickness.  The design comes out nice and deep or tall.  Or whatever you call that 🙂

Your Prompt??  Grab some foam, draw some designs, and give some stencils a try, let me know what you come up with, and have FUN!! 

 

 

Ink Sprays, My New Obsession

I have a new love, a new obsession…Dylusions Ink Sprays.

They are so very vibrant, so yummy, so colorful!  They blend wonderfully, you can use water to thin them out or to mix them together, and you can spray them directly onto your project or into a little puddle to then use with a brush.  I love using them on watercolor paper, canvas, gesso’d papers, book pages, cardboard, and muslin.

I love them!  I wish I had all of the colors, but for now, six colors is what I’ve got 🙂

I have also been playing around with making stencils out of foam sheets…and the sprays work great with them.  After spraying through the stencil, the ink sits on the foam and makes for an awesome ghost print after that, since the color doesn’t absorb into the foam.

Joy.

And I do use them along with my very favorite versatile medium, NeoColors.  The spray inks have not usurped water color crayons from their number 1 spot, at least not yet!!

And here for your enjoyment, an example of sprays and color and foam stencils and watercolor paper…and yet another mash note to my hubby 🙂

And I’ll work on bringing pics of some of my fun foam stencils, coming soon!!

PROMPT: What’s your favorite new supply of the summer?  Have you tried the Dylusion Ink Sprays yet?? 

*On a side note, you can find them at JoAnn’s and usually you can find a 40-50% off single item coupon to go with your purchase 🙂 

Two HeartsTwo Hearts 1Two Hearts 2

 

Soundtrack of My Life

So, I have an ongoing interest thing obsession with paint chip cards.  You know, those sample cards that you can grab at any paint store.  I love all of the different colors, all of the different shapes of cards for different brands of paint, and the weight of the paper.  I love searching google looking for cool things people do with these little gems.

It just so happens, Christopher is always taking me to Home Depot and Lowe’s 🙂 I am a lucky gal ~ I love the hardware store, it’s brillo for Art Fodder™!!!  Poor hubby, he has to deal with me smuggling out paint chips.  I feel a need to be super-nonchalant since I’m always there.

Maybe the paint section workers don’t think anything of it as we’re always actually buying paint…at least that’s what I hope…

Sometimes I just sit and flip through my collection of cards.  It is extensive and worthy of pondering.  Other times, I use the cards for making teaching aids for the kidlets.  We’ve made sight word flash cards, multiplication fact cards, vocabulary cards, Bingo cards (I’ll have to come back with some pics later, those turned out way cool!).  And I’ve made party invitations, Valentine cards, RAAK cards for art mail, Mother’s Day cards, and mini-books.  And I have a whole computer file of great ideas for the little boogers!

As I was reminiscing just now, I kind of forgot my whole point.  Those little cards do that to me, lol.

This particular journal page is not terribly ornate or anything, but I was experimenting with using the paint chips and silhouettes.  I think they’re pretty neat, and I thought you might like the idea:

Dancers

Clearly I was also pondering some of my favorite Pandora lists at the same time 🙂

PROMPT:  How do you use paint chips or paint sample cards?

*On a side note, if you’d like to check out what we’re listening to on a regular basis (cuz wordpress doesn’t have a super-duper Pandora widget), you can check out our Pandora station: http://www.pandora.com/profile/stations/motherdana.  I’m not completely convinced that leaving this link here for you will work, but let me know.  My profile is Dana Saint John.  The harder rock stations belong to my teenager, so don’t think that’s my music, lol.  But DO check out the others, lots of good art music contained therein!!  Some of the stations I have actively spent tons of time cultivating, others are still needing my input…

I am currently, right at this very moment of typing these very words, listening to my Greenskeepers Radio station.  Enjoy 🙂

 

 

Face Practice

GirlWow, so long since the last post.  Sometimes I wonder how I miss so much time??

Our painting business continues to grow.  We built a small website (take a look here).  I am amazed at how much better I feel getting out and painting and refinishing cabinets, and really physically working.  For so long I have used my brain and my conversation skills, selling and serving customers and, well, sitting.  Way too much sitting, talking on the phone, using the computer, and not getting up and moving around and doing more physical labor.

I really like it.  My body is feeling strong, my back feels better, my soul feels better…this kind of work is so meditative!  And I get to spend my work time hanging out with my hubby, making things beautiful!!  It just really doesn’t get much better than this 🙂

And in my art time outside of that, I have been continuing to focus on drawing faces.  Maybe soon I will start practicing bodies to go with the floating heads, lol…

The biggest challenge for me with faces is the coloring…I thought I would battle more with the features, but nope, it’s the coloring.  I have really come up with some interesting color combinations, that’s for sure!  But I keep at it, I’m actually learning to not fight it, but to just keep going…like so much else in art.  That’s a common theme for me, it seems.  Trust the process (I wrote ages ago about that here).

What a feeling of accomplishment, though, to keep at it and begin to see the success!  And this particular girl has a special place in my art journal…she is on the last available page of my current large journal!

Finishing an art journal…that has a very solid feeling of accomplishment.

I have been working in that particular journal for two full years now.  It’s funny, when I first started journaling, I would work in one journal straight through, then moved to the next journal.  Along the way, I started working in a whole bunch of art journals at one time.

I have old books that I used as journals, I have kids’ board books as journals, I have loose pages that I journal together, I make mini-journals out of bags or cards or junk mail, I have composition books as journals…and I have my sketch books.  I have themed journals, I have chronological journals, and I have extra paint journals (you know, the ones where you slap extra paint or ink on pages that you use as backgrounds for stuff later).

And the journals are all over the house!  I was cleaning up some shelves, and I counted…seven journals going at the moment!!  My kids thumb through them, they show them to their friends, and my hubby looks through them all of the time.  My art has become such a way of life in our home, I never imagined how ingrained in our lives it would all be.

That has its own very satisfying and fulfilling level of accomplishment, too.

Keep Visiting, We Are Still Creating

Life is beauty through and through
Life is sunny, life is cool

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros,

Life is Hard

We have been working to redefine and sort out what we want with our blog.

I guess I’m not completely sure where the blog world needs St John Family Studios, but the times that I’ve asked I seem to get few responses.  I’m unsure how y’all all get interaction on your blogs…but I seem to get nowhere in that department.

I do know this: during this past hiatus, our blog continues to have momentum, it continues to have this weird life of its own…it keeps going, people keep searching our art and coming to our page and looking at it over and over again.

I really have NO idea how that happens, but it’s pretty cool.  So something we do here is interesting 🙂

I’ve been completely involved with some new classes, a job outside of the house that I really do dislike a whole bunch, and other regular life stuff.  But my goal this year is to figure out what’s next, where the blog fits in, and how to keep sharing cool art and techniques and inspiration…and to figure out how to get the art and the surrounding stuff get to be the focus and the stupid job less of a focus.

Do you feel that pull?  How do we get to the place where what we love and feel passionate about is what we spend our time doing, and still eating and paying rent??  Any thoughts??

The other big goal this year for me is to learn to not be afraid of drawing and painting the human form, faces, hands, noses, eyes, hands, and all of the super-duper things that float around in my mind’s eye.

So I leave you with a sample of how I’ve spent my recent time arting.  Please keep coming back.  We will figure it out 🙂

xoxo

Class from LifeBook 2014 with Tamara LaPorte

Class from Life Book 2014 with Tamara LaPorte

What’s Up at St John Family Studios

Wow.  Once again I find myself realizing I haven’t posted on the blog in quite some time!

My J-O-B has taken way more of a toll on me than I previously expected, which has been kind of a downer…but this week I was able to change my schedule around a bit…which gives me early work times and home earlier in the day.  Unbelievable how much difference it’s already making after only one week!

My mood, my attitude, my soul feels way better.  I get home before it’s dark, I have time to play with the kids and art a little, hang out with Christopher while he’s cooking dinner…I may be working the same number of hours, but I feel like I have more time and way more quality time!

Hopefully that will mean more blogging time as well.  I do miss the blog when I’m away too long.  I have a number of different projects going that I want to share soon.  I’m working on a design for a pencil/marker roll-up case, made of denim from old jeans to give to each of the kidlets for Christmas.  I’ve been working on a fun jounaling-arting prompt list to share with you.  And I’ve been doing more art journaling and trying to get some more canvases ready for the etsy shop, as I’ve sold most of what we had listed in the shop.

So I’ll leave you with a couple of pages from my Little Red Art Journal and look forward to coming back with some completed projects to share 🙂

JoyShine

 

Ephemera Give-Away, And Getting Back to It

This past week was full of playing with Brave Girls’ Club and managing that excitement…so we sort of dropped off working on the Activity Blitz and awesome ephemera give-away.

Crazy to get started and then change momentum, huh.  But here we are, back to it.  Seems like so many people ran over to the Facebook page and found us there, but no one remembered to come back and leave a comment here about it.

Maybe the whole thing was too complicated?  I don’t know as I’ve never run a give-away like this before…so I’ll give everyone a BRAND NEW OPPORTUNITY!!

We’ll keep it simple.  And we’ll spice up the enticement a bit and share a sneak peek picture here with you 🙂

Ephemera Collection Give-Away

Buried in this pile: sheet music, French book pages, an Alka-Seltzer ad book, old letters, old snapshots, poems, dictionary pages, and more!

Leave a comment here.  Tell me what you like to make with ephemera, bits of stuff, saved little doo-dads that you keep or find.  Collage?  Canvases?  Cards?  Art journal spreads? ATC’s?  All of the above???

And if you run over to the Facebook page (you can find a link at the right now), leave a comment there too.  Just say Hi, and give us some love.

I’ll make sure that you’re entered for going there and leaving some love here on the blog.

Is that simple enough? 

I know that I’m not the most social of creatures, so I understand if you are not typically all about leaving comments and participating in small talk…but you’ll have to leave a comment somewhere to enter the drawing 🙂

This will not knock out anyone who has already entered or who stops by the first post and gives us love there.  I know how the whole random number generator thing works now, so I’ll get you all entered.

All of this is towards a great end.  With the official launch of SWAAK Paks™ just around the corner, the more activity we have here and on Facebook, the more our RocketHub page will get seen.  You can be a part of something greater by just helping our activity and interaction levels grow.

We are asking for your help to share the activity and buzz by participating a bit, and we’re willing to bribe you to do it!!

And to those of you who joined in the give-away for the new Brave Girls’ Class…this is pile of awesome Art Fodder™ to use in your projects!!

 

Tooray! Winner of Soul Comfort Class!!

We totally pushed pause on buzzing about our other give-away for the excitement of the Soul Comfort class give-away.  So be sure to check that out as this one’s ending…you can win some awesome ephemera!!  And we’ll be back tomorrow to share a sneak peek at what’s in that awesomitacular collection!!

Hosting this give-away has been terribly rewarding…I have totally loved all of the comments and feedback about what everyone does as comfort to the soul.

Originally, I had all kinds of reasons for wanting to host this.  I loved the thought of being involved in drumming up excitement for a class from Brave Girls’ Club…I guess you could say I’m kind of a fan girl 🙂  I was so excited about being a part of that!

You know what I found, though?  Brave Girls’ Club devised such a beautiful way to share their own successes and excitement.  They offered out the classes for the other bloggers to give away, FOR FREE!!  I know, it seems like it was a great way to get other bloggers to reach out to their own followings and spread the news of the new class, but really.  Brave Girls’ Club has a way bigger following than does St John Studios.  And when I asked to be a part of the whole give-away blog fest, they didn’t say “Oh, no, your blog is way too small.”  They didn’t tell me I don’t have enough of my own subscribers.  They were totally positive and delightful and then pushed my blog out on their own messages to send people to this blog to enter the contest!!

Talk about sharing in the success!  We have had such an amazing boost in traffic and interaction and lovies from people who might not have run into our blog otherwise!

And I get the joy of giving away a spot in their new class!!!

Talk about paying it forward, about spreading joy and love, about helping others, about building up other artists.

I can’t thank them enough.  I can only profess here, publicly, that I so love and appreciate Brave Girls’ Club and Melody and Kathy for their precious gift.  Thank you.

Alright, so on with the WINNER!!!

Random Number 2Autumne Horan Sep 17, 9:04 am

When I hear the words soul comfort I think about being deeply rooted in the ground, I think of being empathic of myself, self care, and being gentle with myself. I have post traumatic stress disorder and spent the summer in trauma treatment centre, soul comfort would help me with the transition from this centre to home, self care, connection to self, and self love.

 

Tooray! 2

Please drop me an email Autumne to verify your email and other details so that Kathy can get your spot in the class all set up.  Congratulations!!

I do hope that those of you who are new to St John Studios will come back.  You can follow the blog and get wind of new posts and goings-on around here by subscribing over at the left.  You can also find our FB page and follow us there, we’d love to see you!

And don’t forget to come back tomorrow to see the sneak peek of our AWESOME ephemera pack!  It will be fun Art Fodder™ to use in your Soul Comfort class 🙂

We’re Hosting a Give-Away to the New Brave Girls’ Club Course, Soul Comfort

Hot dog!

I have the honor of sharing with you the details of a FABULOUS class starting next week…Tuesday September 24…with Brave Girls’ Club!!!

Do you ever have one of those surreal moments, where you look around and wonder how something this groovy happened?  I was at work, pouting pretty much cuz I couldn’t play hookey and paint all day…when I found out I was going to be sharing with you such a super-cool opportunity…that I get to give away an artsy-journaling class!!!

I shared with you earlier this summer new of a meaningful class I was taking with Brave Girls’ Club here, and then finished up the summer sharing with you the cover to the book I worked on throughout the class (check it out here).

And now Brave Girls’ Club has a new class coming, next week!!  And I am honored to share with you an incredible opportunity, to win a spot in the class!

Outstanding 🙂  And we will be holding the drawing, a random winner chosen out of the comments left on this very post…it could be any one of you, just leave a comment below answering this question:

What do you think of when you hear the words “Soul Comfort”?

WOO-HOO!!!  Here’s some class details:

To the tired, the exhausted, the overstretched…here’s an invitation…

Life can be simple.

What if we celebrated the brave act of….taking a break?

What if simplicity,
comfort, and quiet were the goal?

What if there really was a way to quiet the chatter in our minds and let us recharge our body & soul?

And what if it was fun, too?

Introducing a new eCourse . . .

Soul Comfort

Soul Comfort is a fresh new concept using art and journaling as a means to relax and comfort yourself and to get grounded while dealing with the craziness of every-day living.

This course if full of beautiful projects to fuel your creativity in very simple and easy ways that are meditational and relaxing , beautiful comforting things that will have your soul infused into them so that you want to keep them forever.

Brave Girls Club - Melody RossMelody (course creator and teacher) says, “I want to teach you some new habits of creativity mixed with simplicity that I have learned over the years. Being a recovering hoarder of supplies and techniques, this is really a new way to give yourself permission to do things simply but beautifully.

One of the most wonderful things about this course is that everything fits into one fabric tote bag . . . I wanted to create a whole course where all of the supplies fit into a tiny space so that you could take it everywhere you go…so that you could do it sitting on your bed, on your couch, with your family, do it with your children, in the car, wherever your day takes you. It’s incredible. This has changed my life. This has been something that I have used on my own and I can’t wait to share it with you.”

Brave Girls Club - Soul Comfort - Melody, Patrice, Kathy

You can count on this class to be . . .

  • enlightening, enjoyable, fun, & simple
  • customizable with many choices to fit your exact style
  • interactive, encouraging, and supportive with a private community on Facebook and weekly live chats
  • a beautiful experience that will help you relax, simplify, and enjoy your life 
  • a place to learn simple new ways to journal, plus the  ”Brave Girl” way to use stitching and such to create both beautiful things you’ll love AND peaceful relaxing moments
  • a place to learn exactly what nourishes YOUR body and soul, and how to fit comforting rituals into your day
  • something that you can finish without feeling overwhelmed
  • produced with the level of caring and  excellence and attention to detail that Brave Girls Club is known for

Brave Girls Club - Soul Comfort Stitchery

We’ve worked to narrow down things to quench the yearning of your soul…to be able to be creative but also to be sensitive to the mess that it makes and the time that it takes as well as the brain space it takes for complicated tools and  techniques. We will teach you fun ways to make beautiful things while relaxing yourself . . .and we’ll be participating in the class right along with you.

  • This will be relaxing, fun, and simple
  • You’ll be able to take it along with you, everywhere you go
  • Instead of overwhelming you with one  more thing to stress out about, this eCourse will help you relax, enjoy, and feel comfort and peace no matter what else is going on in your life.

Brave Girls Club - Go Create Something stitchery

It is YOUR time for some Soul Comfort. Come join us!

        • Supply List – simple, inexpensive supplies
        • Register Here – tuition $99
        • Class begins September 24. Access the online classroom through January 2, 2014.
        • Divided into 4 segments, with a new one released every two weeks to give you lots of space to breathe.

Brave Girls Club - Soul Comfort journal prompts

Remember: Leave a comment below, answering the question,

What do you think of when you hear the words “Soul Comfort”?

We will choose the random winner Saturday, September 21, 2013 at 9 a.m. PST.