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!!


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

How-to Prep a Children’s Board Book for an Art Journal, and My Little Board Book of Verses

I love using old children’s board books for projects…they’re easily available, usually cheap (if you pick them up at garage sales, thrift stores, or used book stores), and so many of them are great sizes for making into little stand-alone art journals or projects.

One of my faves in the past is My Manifesto board book (check that out here).  If you haven’t looked at it before, take a peek, it makes a great comparison with the one I’m playing with now…and I want to share with you what’s working so much better for me with this current little board book.

On my little book of manifestos, I prepped the board book by carefully peeling off the actual story part of the pages.  The book itself was pretty banged up before I got a hold of it.  So the slick, printed part of the pages was already peeling up a bit on most pages, and it didn’t seem to be that much of a chore to peel it all off.  Wrong.  It was quite the chore, I griped and fought with it and even had some pages that it didn’t all come off the pages.

I didn’t let any of that sweat me at the time, I just chalked it all up to adding lovely texture 🙂 With a bunch of gesso, the pages did come out to be a mostly even canvas to use for the book.  Some of the pages did keep the look of the fuzzies from where the paper had been peeled off, and some of the pages had some smooth parts and some fuzzy parts, lol.

This time around, I’ve gone a different route.

I didn’t try to peel anything up.  This time I used some very rough sand paper to sand all of the pages.


This works way better.  I thought before that sanding was going to be way more work, and I was so incredibly wrong!  The sanding is less troublesome.  Sanding the pages gave a smoother and more pleasing canvas to work with.

You do not have to over-sand.  While much of the artwork will sand off from the printing, what you’re really going for is getting the plastic coating and the shine off of the pages.  Just about everything else can be covered up with gesso and paint (or whatever medium you’re using).

I do use a lot of NeoColors in my pages, so I did work at getting a lot of the printing off…so that I don’t have to worry so much about coverage.  And, I do like the texture and depth that a bit of the printing shows through the backgrounds.

Here’s what a page from my prepped book looks like:

The pages are a dream to work on, the smooth is so pleasing, I actually sat and ran my hands over the pages for a while before I ever got to working in it!  This little book is the perfect shape, very square.  And it has the perfect number of pages (one page at a time, not two-page spreads) for this project.

My hubby and I are taking a discipleship class together at our church, called Experiencing God (put out by LifeWay).  One of our weekly activities is to memorize that week’s Bible verse.  The class has 13 weeks and 13 memorization verses.  This little book has 13 pages.  Serendipity.  And making a page in the little book for each verse each week gives me a lovely art project to do along with my class and actually helps me memorize the verses, cuz I’m thinking about how the look to me visually.

Here’s the first two pages:



“I am the vine, you are the branches; if you stay in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me, you can do nothing.”  ~ John 15:5








“Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.”  ~ Psalm 20:7




Prompt:  Do you have a favorite Bible verse?  Use it in your art journal, build the page around how the page looks to you in your mind’s eye.  It’s incredibly satisfying.

Prompt 2:  Find a board book and re-purpose it.  They make for great gifts and great inspirational books to carry with you!!

Mixed Media Canvases for Christmas in July

Here we are on the last day of July ~ hard to believe, huh??  This summer has flown by at breakneck speed.  I thought about Christmas in July for months…and I really have no idea where the summer has gone!

For this last day, I wanted to show you a couple of canvases that I made to give as gifts.  And to share with you some ideas and resources for making your own canvases, or even Christmas cards.

The backgrounds for my canvases came out of my stash of ephemera.  I used bits of patterned paper, almanacs, and gift tags.  Even when I know that the background papers are going to be buried quite a bit under other layers of paint and papers, I still choose things that go with my theme.

For example, in this first canvas, I used a piece out of an old almanac for a page on December plantings.  You can’t really see at the end that it was a page out of almanac, and maybe no one will ever know that I did actually use the page from the season.  But I know.  I feel that the whole thing is more meaningful and, well, just more, because I used the page from the season.

I used round amethyst beads for the swag at the top of this canvas, and it can hang down on the canvas like in the picture, or it can also be used above the canvas as an actual hanger (I used the amethyst cuz the recipient of this canvas has a February birthday and an amethyst birthstone).  It’s hard to see in the pic, but this canvas has gold and silver paint to make the whole thing kind of shiny and sparkly.  The text is a lyric.

Another tidbit is that music paper that I use for Christmas projects is actually Christmas music.  I collect old sheet music from garage sales and thrift stores and used book stores, but I also get some sheet music from the inter webs.  You can find lots of music freely available by doing google searches.  Then I print the music, stain it with tea bags, tear out the piece I want to use, and finally singe the edges with a lighter.  The music will have an old and vintage look to it, adding to the overall piece.

Take a look at for lots of free music and lyrics.

In this second canvas, I used the music paper to cut out snowflakes for the foreground of the canvas.  Now, if you’re like me, you can’t remember from your grade school days how the heck to cut out a snowflake that actually looks like a snowflake.  So, again, I hit the inter webs.  You can look at a quick tutorial on how to do the folding of the paper and then where to make your cuts so that you don’t cut the whole thing apart.  Another really fun, and super addictive snowflake website is Make-A-Flake, where you can make virtual snowflakes.  It’s a fun way to map out snowflakes and see how they’ll look before you try the real thing.  Only I got stuck there for a while, and every year that I go back, I get stuck again, lol.

The text on this canvas is made up of words and phrases that are meaningful to me.  You could use song lyrics, Christmas words in different languages, all the words for Santa, religious words, all kinds of things.  Make it meaningful for you or for the person with whom you’re sharing it.

I used vellum run through my laser printer for the words on both canvases.  Both of these canvases are 6″ X 12″ wrapped edge canvases and are painted around the edges so that they can be hung without a frame.

Closer to Christmas time, I will come back and share with you some Christmas cards…I am one of the crazy gals who makes a lot of cards…not for all of my business clients, or for every person I meet, but I do make them for the family and close friends to us.

Again, I know that not everyone is thinking about holidays in July, but hopefully these projects are things that you can stash away and inspire you when the time comes.

Shall I say Merry Christmas??  Or Happy End of Summer??  How ’bout both???


Super Exciting and Giant Blog Hop is Here Tomorrow!!

Join us for the fun, in The Art of Wild Abandonment Blog Hop!!

Another Paint Color Sample Card Idea

I dance to the song of the Universe.  It may look a little bit odd, but only to those who don’t hear the music.

~ Christopher St John

My favorite styles/sizes

Here is another neat-o idea for some of those paint color sample cards you have stashed. I am including a pic of an unused paint color card for my friend Jo over in the UK, as she tells me that she is unsure if they have these over there.  Jo, hopefully seeing one in its natural form will help you figure out what else is comparable!  On a side note, I’ve always wondered why it is that so many people call these “paint chips”, as it seems paint chips refers to actual flakes of actual paint…hmm…

When I first started really exploring art journaling, I spent lots of time poking around blogs and videos looking at background ideas.  I got really really good at backgrounds…it took a while before I started even considering what goes on top of the background…what do you call that?  Oh, yeah, the foreground!

I fought the fear for quite some time.  So I just played, creating lots of lovely backgrounds, waiting in my journals and on my papers, waiting for me to decide if they would ever see any more action.

Christopher, on the other hand, hasn’t had that same battle with the fear.  And we love collaborative works…which totally works out for us.  He can see something in backgrounds that I make, even when I don’t.  If I give up on what comes next on a background, he’ll see something in them and get to work on a foreground.  Over time, that has actually helped me see more in my own work, and I have learned to see thing myself.  But I still love when he adds to works that I’ve started…

This particular work is one of those collaborative projects.

I started with a piece of cardboard cut out of a box.  I glued down the paint color sample cards, and then started adding paint with a brayer.  I smeared a color on with the brayer, and then wiped off some of the paint.  After the paint dried, I’d do it again, sometimes with the same color, sometimes with another color.  Little bit by little bit, I build up color where I wanted it.  I did work on keeping some of the color names and some of the lines between the colors on the card peeking through (like artsynaturenut does in some of her art journaling).  On the top layers of color I added Neocolors to grunge it up a bit.

After all of the colors were dried and set, I hit the background with sandpaper.  That basically grunged it up some more, and that also “blended” the whole color scheme together, sort of tying it all in together.

I did add some textured stamping and some color added with bottle caps for an additional layer of texture.

Prompt: What else fun can you do with paint chips?  I have seen huge blog postings around on the internet with fun ideas for these little cards.  Take yourself on a date to the hardware store and pick some of these little cards up!  Try to get out of your color comfort zone.  Make a cool background with some.