More Art Time, or Turning Lemons into Lemonade

Look at every path closely and deliberately, then ask ourselves this crucial question: Does this path have a heart?  If it does, then the path is good.  If it doesn’t, it is of no use.

~ Carlos Castaneda

It’s funny…I hated my day job, I prayed for a way out, and I had been pining for more work time with the hubby…and I had been praying for new ways to bring in other sources of income so that I can work on more art and make money with my own hands.

I sort of thought, in all of that pining and praying and fervently hoping, that I would have some alternative worked out BEFORE I left the hated job.


So I don’t always get to choose the timing or the details or the exact path of how prayers are answered, or so I’m learning.  I did not get a new job lined up, I did not make sure I had plenty of savings at the ready, I did not have a whole bunch of multiple streams of income all neatly lined up.

Nope, I sure didn’t.  My prayers got answered with a big old fashioned kick in the butt as I lost my grip on the slippery rock of seeming safety.

I have been through this before.  When we opened our business consulting firm 6 years ago, I fought to keep a hold on that rock.  I was so afraid to let go and flow with the river.  I was afraid of the unknown, even though I hated the work that had me “trapped” in the known.

While I have since moved away from so much business consulting as the economics of small businesses have changed these past couple of years, I loved my work and my rules and my customers and my way of being able to sink or swim on our terms.

Then I got foolish and took another “Joe Job”.  And in the short time I was working it, I got complacent and liked the feel of the rock under my strained fingers.  I lost sight of my priorities and how I wanted to create my life and how good it used to feel when I felt good about the work I did everyday.

Then comes my answered prayers.  I lost my job.  Before I was ready, or not exactly on my terms and on my timetable and when I was all neat and tidy and “ready”.

And guess what??  I’m living through it!  It seems that I can earn money and art at the same time!  It’s a bit different than what I imagined, and is not the total sum of what I want to do in paying art time, but it so totally works!

Christopher and I have been painting the walls in people’s homes…faux painting, which is just an enormous art journal background!  And re-finishing cabinets and designing murals and playing in color and going to Home Depot…it’s what I love to do, just on a much larger scale than my art journals.  Of course, not so many rub-ons or markers 🙂  But I get to hang out with Christopher and listen to music and wax rhapsodic and paint and make something that looks beautiful and brings joy!

I am still fighting the fear a bit, it’s certainly uncomfortable still, but I have faith that we are moving in the right direction, and I feel so inspired when I come home from a day of painting!  And I have time to art more and get back to so many projects that were falling by the wayside…Now it’s just a matter of scheduling enough jobs to keep the lights on and the art supplies coming!!


Happy Fish



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 🙂


Class from LifeBook 2014 with Tamara LaPorte

Class from Life Book 2014 with Tamara LaPorte

A Project Journal from an Old Book, and a Decorated Cover

You can’t think yourself out of a writing block, you have to write yourself out of a thinking block.

~John Rogers

Before the summer started, and before I got hung up working a “real” job…I started working on a journal for a class with Brave Girls Club (I posted about it way back when).

So, it was an awesome class!  I hope I can get it together and take another in the near future.  But for now, I’m still poking along with a few of the activities, enjoying the inspired soul-searching found making the journal.

I won’t bore you with the inner conversation parts, but I really do want to share a couple of things.

As I’ve told you before, I do love to use old books, especially free-to-me books, as art journals.  Each one offers its own set of challenges and surprises.  I love the smell of the pages in an older book.  I love the feel of different kinds of finishes from different books.  I love having a huge variety of sizes and shapes from using old books.  And I love that I can use what’s on the pages to add interest and layers and texture to what I’m doing on top of the pages…

For this project, I used a book about women in architecture.  In retrospect, it really didn’t have as much room in the book as I could’ve used…next time for a specific project I’ll have to give that some more thought.

But it has a great shape, a great linen-style cover, and lots of cool pictures on glossy paper inside the book.

I got better this round at prepping the book: I used a straight-edge to hold down on the inside of the pages as I ripped out every other page.  The pages themselves were pretty heavy and glossy, so I didn’t need to glue any of them together.

The other main thing I learned from this book prep:

Make sure you know that the book is not something you’ll later regret arting all over.  I only realized after I had really gotten going, it was an autographed copy of the book.  I might have looked to see if anyone would want that autographed copy.  Duh.

I did end up making sure to use the autograph by painting a frame around it.  It turned out pretty sweet, but I did feel kind of bad about not noticing it in the beginning.

And I really really really love the cover!  The inner stuff is personal and kind of boring for anyone other than me, the cover is so totally something to share 🙂

Red Book CoverBook Spine

How-to Make Your Own Book: Junk Journals, Smash Books, Mini Books, I Love Them All!

Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem.  We all have twenty-four hours a day.

~ Zig Ziglar*

Alright, so I’m admitting openly, I do love all of the little journals and books and albums…all of them!  I have coveted a Smash Book for some time now, but I just can’t bring myself to pay the asking price.  Not when I am in serious need of more paints and new paintbrushes and gels…

So I keep making my own little books out of the various stacks of papers and ephemera I have in my stacks.

The super-cool thing is that they are always at the ready, waiting next to whatever my current project is, waiting for left-over paint…mixed colors or blobs on palettes as I’m creating.  I use the overage on pages in my little junk journals to make backgrounds as I go.  Then I have awesome little journals in which to glue clippings and love notes and odds and ends the kids bring to me.  I have also used small Moleskines for the same purpose, using left-over paint for backgrounds in a Fave Quote Journal.

I have looked at lots of other little journal how-to’s around the interwebs, I have seen pics of other cute things and done my own versions of back-engineering.  I have stapled together pieces of paper!  I have all kinds of little books around, not sure what their end purpose is, but they have brought me much pleasure and joy as I slap paint and glue doo-dads and fondle their pages.

That’s my adult-artsy version of scrapbooks and journals, I guess.  Maybe someday my kidlets will look at them lovingly and remember fondly their youth?  All I know, it sure is fun, and it sure brings a total satisfaction in my artsy play.

Here’s a couple of my latest faves, one is a book out of mostly envelopes, and I think a couple of marketing junk mail pieces.  The pockets in the center are toilet tubes.  The other is made out of file folders.

That’s been a lot of my projecting this summer.  I have worked on a number of larger art works, I will be working on taking photos at some point to put up and on the Etsy site.  We’ve also been working on a Facebook page for our arty bunch so that we can roll out a project in the works.  More on that to come.

Thanks for sticking around.  I so miss being able to art all day long, my heart aches, my artist soul is petulant…but the sales gal in me is having a great time at the job, and that has its own brand of creative satisfaction.


File Book 3 File Book 2 File Book 1 Envelope Book Cover Envelope Book 13 Envelope Book 10 Envelope Book 9 Envelope Book 8 Envelope Book 7 Envelope Book 6 Envelope Book 5 Envelope Book 4 Envelope Book 3 Envelope Book 2

*Zig Ziglar has always been one of my favorite motivation speakers and authors.  This quote is so fitting as I fight for time to work, time to art, time to blog, time to minister, and time to play with the kidlets and the hubby. 

Transitions, Cheers to New Beginnings All Over Again!

If nothing ever changed, there’d be no butterflies.

~ Author Unknown

Here we are again…I fell out of the blog-o-sphere for a week and a half.  How does that even happen??

I certainly don’t aim to bore, to fill you in with too many details of crap going on in our daily lives.  That’s not why we read blogs, is it now?  We want to be entertained, find something inspirational, or a bit of enlightenment.  I have just been a bit buried under the things that come along with daily life…

I have been arting like crazy, it seems that inspiration is striking from every turn.  Amen to that, right??

And I have also decided to jump into an online class, although I sort of was thinking that I wouldn’t have time for one any time soon.  And I sort of haven’t had class monies in the budget.  But this one called me, told me to bite the bullet, so to speak.  I couldn’t get past it, couldn’t find a way to talk myself out of it.

I probably won’t share too much of my work from the class, but I will send you over to check out what’s going on in…Life Restoration, aka Soul Restoration 2, with Melody Ross at Brave Girls Club.  It’s not your typical art class.  I didn’t know exactly what I was getting myself into, other than it’s a class about figuring out how to purposefully live your life.  Right.  Totally looking for that.

Of course, I have spent many-an-hour and much energy in my life working through self-help courses, books, art work, sales career seminars (which are all about building things on purpose) and a myriad of groups and videos and clubs…oh, pretty much anything that helps build and grow and that kind of stuff.

So why on Earth was I being called to yet another class just like all of the others??

I know now.

I have been working through the assignments, and while Melody has lots of great art technique videos (I have actually learned a few things, woo-hoo!), what’s truly amazing is the stuff I wasn’t expecting.  Plowing through garbage that I have been trying to figure how to clean out of my closet, finding the freedom to let go of the things that I didn’t realize I was holding onto so tightly.  Bringing into consciousness those things that I was longing for and hadn’t quite breathed into focus.

This comes right after I finished a class and self-examination with my church Pastor.  Finding Your Spiritual Gifts.

I feel a bit weird at the moment, a bit cloudy.  You know how when you’re cleaning the swimming pool, everything you stir up as you’re cleaning kind of makes it all look cloudy, and you’re wondering why you stirred it up to begin with?  But then when it all settles back down once again, you see how much cleaner it all is than before.  I’m right in the cloudy stirring at the moment.

As artists, I think we are continuously re-assessing.  Not just ourselves, but our art, our surroundings, our relationships.  We like to see things in new light.  It’s just what we do.

Right I was getting started on this class, I was finishing up this canvas.  Eventually I think I will add some text, but for now, it is what it is.

What the caterpillar calls the end of the world,

the Master calls a butterfly.  ~ Richard Bach

ButterflyButterfly closeup 1Butterfly closeup 2

Butterfly closeup 3

How-to Make a Mini Art Journal Envelope Album Smash Book Thingy

Book FrontBook BackI’m so pleased so many of you grabbed a download of the text sheet, that so many of you found it helpful or inspiring!

In the meanwhile, I have been totally consumed this past week by what started out as a random project.  What’s funny, this little project was nowhere on the list of up-and-coming art fodder!

I do have a number of random little books around, moleskine books, notebooks, old-books-turned-journals…little places that I slap down extra paint or scraps of papers.  Over time, they become backgrounds for other art journaling, just building up a bit at a time as I have leftovers.

But they are not projects that I focus solely on at any one moment.

This little book is totally different.  I started it, then I got totally into it, and then I realized just over a week had gone by and I hadn’t worked on any other art projects at all.  No canvases, no sketching, no blogging, nothing.  Just this little book.

Do you have projects come out of the blue and grab you that way?  Something so unexpected, something so unrelated to all of the “should-do’s” on your list?

It’s also one of those projects that grabbed the whole household and the neighbor children!  Many of the moments I spent playing with this little book was with a kid standing next to me or sitting with me, watching whatever was happening.  They had lots of questions and loved digging through the piles of stuff that ended up spread out all over the table as I was playing (oh, and the mess I have to clean up now!).

It’s also a funny little project, kind of a throwback to a bit of scrapbook-style playing.  Haven’t done that in a while, either.

I did not have a purpose or much of a plan in mind when I got started, I just wanted to put some bags and envelopes together and stitch the binding.  That’s really what got this whole thing started, I just wanted to use a decorative stitch on the binding and see how it worked with the bags.  And I had a super cute See’s Candies bag from a couple of years ago in my stash.  That was the whole plan.

As you’ll see in the pictures, it turned into quite the book.  I have used it as a favorite Bible verse book, I am going to gift it out, to a wonderful new friend (of course, after I’m done just holding it and flipping through the pages, haha!).

And what started out as a project using up some of the stashed envelopes and saved bags and little things and stuff I have stashed around,

Next time, I will use one less envelope or bag, it got kind of thick by the end of cramming all of that stuff in there.  I’ll also plan ahead a bit on how to tie the whole thing together, this time it was an afterthought.

It’s a bunch of pictures, but I want you to see how it all went together.  I didn’t think until I was well into it, about shooting pics of how I put the bags and envelopes together.  I really just stacked them together, flipping the ends of the bags back and forth, and flipping the envelopes vice versa, and then sewed straight down the center.  I did make a fold first to sew along.  I used a decorative stitch, so not only is it pretty but it’s a stronger stitch to help hold it all together.

Also, I used the bottom flap of one of the larger bags to make the flap.  So that bag is not folded in the middle, the fold lines up with the middle of the other pieces.  And one last thing, I did put a card stock piece of junk mail inside the cover paper bag to sturdy up the cover.  You could use a book like this for all kinds of themes, Bible verses, fave quotes, love notes, family pics and events, the list could go on and on…

Book SpineBook Page 1

Book Page 2

Book Page 3

Book Page 4

Book Page 5

Book Page 6

Book Page 7

Book Page 8

Book Page 9

Book page 10 w insert

Book Page 10

Book Page 11



























I used lots of the pockets for other little doo-dads, little cards with scripture verses, tags, and cards with song lyrics.  It also has space to add cards or papers and that sort of thing.

Maybe now I can move on to the next project, but I have the little book bug BAD.  I do have a couple of other books that I’ll show off in the next couple of postings, a file folder booklet, envelope smash book…who knows how stuck I am!! 🙂

Conquering the Fear, Artist-Style

Your soul has wings, so stop lumbering around and FLY.

I’ve had a conversation running in my head for some time now.  A conversation that I’ve wanted to bring to the blog, to share with you and ask your take on it (so leave a comment, share, what is your take?  I really do want to know).  A conversation that has been whispering to me…throughout the quiet moments of my day (which are not many) and throughout those arting dreams I have many nights.

I think a lot about how fear controls me sometimes, and how I’d like to conquer fear.  I ponder what might be the source of the fear, and I ponder how I ever let the fear get a hold of me in the first place.

I realize that none of that so much matters as does whether or not I let the fear grip me and keep from action.  The “why” of it only matters if it helps me figure out how to get past the fear.

When it comes to creating, I was thinking of fear as that thing that keeps me from trying new techniques and out-of-my-comfort-zone projects and using new colors, that sort of thing.  I was thinking that fear is what I conquer to get braver in my art, and to find my own style and free what comes out in the art.  You know what I mean?  Like, it’s easier to mimic another artist’s work, take a class to learn a new technique, look at images on the google, than it is to sit down and just play with paint or plaster or metal or whatever, and just see what happens.  That might end up in disaster, or a failure.

That’s how I saw fear.

Then something else…I realized that what I create, what comes out in the journal or on the canvas or on the crafty projects that adorn our home…these things are pieces of my heart, of my soul, a little window into what’s going inside of me.

Soul Left Soul Right









I let other people look at my art journals.  I post much of my art here on the blog.  I share pics on my facebook page.  I post art for sale in the etsy shop.  I hang it on my living room walls.  I leave my journals on a shelf in my home so others can see them.

I just leave the door to my inner self hangin’ wide open, and just invite other people right on in to have a look.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I don’t post many of my failed attempts, unless I want to make a point.  I don’t show off my botched tries at using a new medium.  But I don’t always only show my favorites.  And I don’t tear the bad ones out of my journals and hide them.  It’s all a part of my journey.

What about the inner critic?

I do fight with my inner critic and use lots of super-duper-magic-mojo-voodoo-stuff against that whiner.  But that’s just a game, really.

Nope, the real fear comes from that place inside that knows that being an artist is about wearing your heart on your sleeve.  It’s about being brave enough to take some thing from the inside of you and putting right out here on the outside.  It doesn’t matter if you blog about it or have an art show or whatever.  Just the act of creating something out here in the physical world, that was once inside your mind’s eye somewhere, is really an act of turning yourself inside out for someone else to see.

As I’ve been thinking through this, pondering this whole idea, you know what I realized?  First of all, I’m not as much of an introvert as I like to think.  I know, hard to believe.  I like blogging and talking with people over the interwebs because it feels safer somehow.  Quieter, more on my terms.

I also realized that maybe, just maybe, the fear does not have nearly as much a hold on me as I once thought.  Maybe I’m a bit braver than I realized.

And in realizing that, I realize that those smaller parts that I thought were really the fear, the shyness about trying new techniques and colors and so forth, those parts are so not important.  Those things are just these tiny little things that I can just stomp right out.  My art can be truly free from such inconsequential little bits of nothing.  Because without even knowing it, I conquered the real deal.

I found out that my soul has wings, and I can fly.

Soul Closeup

Planning the Princess Birthday, the Perfect Project for a Glitter Mama

A dream is a wish your heart makes.

~ Cinderella

My baby girl is turning 5!!!

She’s telling me that I don’t get to call her the “baby” anymore…yea, right…she’s still my baby 🙂

And because she is a Princess, you know, I get to have the most fun prepping for her birthday gathering on Monday.

I used to be one of those gals that would run up (or send Christopher up to) the party store, gather all of the trappings of a boxed birthday party, blow up balloons, and call it done.  Well, we also usually make some kind of crazy cake.  But the rest has been more of a boxed sort of birthday plan.

The more I art, and the more I collect stuff, the more I get away from the boxed approach and go more towards a do-it-yourself approach.

This birthday, Bella’s 5th, is coming together really really super-sweet!!  And cuz she’s all girl, a true Princess, I get to decorate in pink and shiny and flowers and glitter and all of the trappings of girlie stuff, perfect for a glitter gal like myself.  It’s better than Happy I Love You Day!  Along with the lovelies for the cake and the decorations, Bella’s getting some new tutus and dress-up pretties, and I’ve made some cute little packing tape artsy journals and favor bags for the kidlets, that will be tucked in with candy.

I’ll have pics of the interesting swags that I’m making, once I get it hung up and installed.  I put up some kind of Birthday Banner for each of their birthdays, they range from paper flags, to butterflies with words on them, to paper chains.  This one is a yellow and pink and fringe and lace thing.  And they all seem to think that I’ve upped the bar, since I had the sewing machine out for this one.  They’ve all started putting in their orders for their next birthday soirees!

And when I’m back, I’ll show you what we come up with for the custom birthday cake.  We have made quite the assortment of cakes over the years, some of them are total masterpieces, while others are, uhm, well, embarassing, heehee.

Here’s a fun look at some of our past cakes to tide you over till then.  These are quite the memories in our little fam, the kids remember the cakes that we make with joy and laughter and sometimes even a bit of anxiety (see the Elmo cake)!  The beautiful white and raspberry cake is Bella’s birthday yummy from last year, you can see it in more detail, along with the recipe links and so forth here.

Al's Cake

Pokeball ice cream cake\

Ry's Cake

350Bell's Cake













Ally 4 cake 2Sunshine cake







Have a wonderful weekend, I’ll be here playing Birthday Prep.  Be sure to check back for pics of all the festivities!


Happy I Love You Day! Get in the Swing of Things!

Baby, I’m amazed at the way you help me sing my song,

You right me when I’m wrong,

Maybe I’m amazed at the way I really need you.

~ Paul McCartney

Cuppie Cakes 5


Happy I Love You Day is here!  My little kidlets made it all the way till after breakfast before swapping their sweet little Valentine cards with us and each other…and we already had to get into the cupcakes, as soon as breakfast was over 🙂

Cuppie Cakes 2



And before the giant, teen-aged boy left for school this morning, I slipped a little booklet of Valentine jokes in his lunch.  Oh, and marshmallows (we’re not sure who’s kid he really is, he doesn’t like chocolate!).


And I made cute Happy I Love You Day cards, stuffed into an envelope with some Valentine joke bookmarks and mazes and coloring pages, and actually mailed them out ahead of time for the kids!  We’re gonna sneak out to the mailbox and put ’em in there so the kids get mail today.  How fun is that!  I almost never get things done ahead of time like that, lol.

If you haven’t gotten in the spirit of things before now, it’s not too late.  Plenty of Valentine lovey-dovey fodder around.  These cuppie cakes were super easy, just used the FunFetti cake mix and baked them in the flat, cake cones.  Don’t over-fill them, though, or they will overflow all over the place (yes, I did get one whole tray of them like that).

Or make a Valentine card…plenty of cute things around on the interwebs.  We’ve posted ideas the past two weeks, and you can still check out some of the lovies we posted last year.  Write a love letter to your loved one, to yourself, to the world…make a journal page with hearts…write a love poem or haiku…recite some Shakespeare…watch a romance…listen to a love song or two…Just feel the love!

I hope you feel the love today.  That’s what it’s all about.  And know that here, someone is thinking of you, as I think of you to whom I am writing, all of the time!

Valentine Logo

Kiss Me, a Canvas for My Valentine

Oh, kiss me beneath the milky twilight

Lead me out on the moonlit floor

Lift your open hand

Strike up the band and make the fireflies dance

Silver moon’s sparkling

So kiss me

~ Sixpence None the Richer, Kiss Me

Kiss Me closeupI sometimes get so caught up in thinkin’ about the subjects for my canvases.  Like so many of us, I fret over the empty canvas.  I look at it and worry that I’m going to “ruin” a canvas.  My art journals give me way less grief, because the paper seems so much less permanent and less expensive and less important somehow.

I can spend tons of time and loving arting energy on the paper, and then when I get to a canvas, I get all choked up, thinking that I have to make something perfect just because it’s a canvas.

I have been working on breaking through that barrier (always, always, keep on swimming, keep breaking the next barrier, keep Stretching the Boundaries).  One thing that has helped is to look at my canvas as a great big art journal page.  If I make something that ultimately I don’t like, I can always gesso and paint and glue stuff over it!  I forget that too often.

So I’m learning to work faster than my fear.  Just get the canvas out, and get started.  Make something.  And stop thinking so much (which is super difficult for me!).

Kiss Me heart closeupThe other thing that has been helping is to think less about the actual subject.  I’m going with what’s in my heart, using the images and ideas and subjects that I use on a daily basis in my art journals…that is, expressing the same ideas that I express in my journals, just in a bigger way on the canvas.  Those subjects for me are love, friendship, flowers, the beauty in the world around me, my joy in my kidlets, and my relationship with God.

Silly, I know.  Why are those subjects good enough for the journal pages and not so much for the canvas?  Why would I fight that??

Well, I’ll fight it no longer.  While I have used my journaling often as a place to work out what will later go on a canvas, as a practice spot so to speak, I realized that I need to take to the canvas the same joy that I have while working in my journals.

And I do have Happy I Love You Day on the brain (really, you ask??).  Yep, I do.

That brings us to the first in a small series of heart canvases.

Kiss Me 3

Prompt: Make something larger, something more out there, get out of the journal and onto a canvas, or a piece of wood, or a wall even…but get brave, treat the canvas like you treat your art journal.  Make something fabulous and playful, just like you’ll do in your journal.