Dream Journal, new online class offering

I am putting the finishing touches on my first on-line journaling class Dream Journals and boy would I like to see you there. We will learn to use watercolors, resists, we’ll draw, paint, play and create journal pages that are richly layered and dynamic. All techniques covered in the class are taught in my book, Dreaming from the Journal Page, but that isn’t a required purchase. I do hope you might though!  The class stands alone, but also compliments and expands upon what is contained in the pages of the book. And beside that, we will be working in community with one another, helping and encouraging one another as we go.

The daffodil above, is an example of dry on dry watercolor painting, which is covered in two long videos (so far there are over 12 videos in all, more to come). Arrow to the left demonstrates the use of frisket as a resist. I will get you layering, building, drawing, painting and making pretty pages, using easily approachable techniques, in no time flat. I will get you drawing with fun and memorable warm up techniques, and if you have ever been heard to say, “I can’t draw”, you’ll prove yourself wrong.

And in order to get the word out about this new class offering, I would like to give away at least one spot in the class. 

Here is how it works:

1. Simply comment on this post to put your name in the hat.

2. To double your chances of winning, link to this post on your blog, Facebook, Pinterest, or your favorite social networking site. BUT, you will need to come back here and leave a second comment with a link to your post, for a total of two comments in your name. You are responsible for this (please don’t link to me on Facebook, as I won’t be able to keep track of that, the comments here are the easiest way from me to keep it simple) .

So please help me get the word out, will you? I will announce a winner one week from today, July 10, so please check back. Thanks a bunch.

Dreaming from the Journal Page Give Away+

Dreaming from the Journal Page is a pretty snazzy book, if I do say so myself. North Light was very gracious to me when they heard I had been diagnosed with cancer and rather than flying me to home base to have step out photographs taken, they hired a photographer to come to me. Many of the shots in the book are candid, taken in our tiny apartment, with images of my paint boxes, pencil cups, and ‘smalls’ (the little things collected that make us happy). 

So you get to see my beloved peg board, our lifestyle, my belongings, one of the last photos taken of me fully figured. When I first saw the photographs, I was floored! I could pretend our apartment is huge! I could believe the story that was created by beautiful photography. 

The author photo shows me with a doo rag covering the glare of my shiny, bald head (which I came to love as a symbol of my strength.) I was in the midst of my 4th chemotherapy dose, just the week before my 5th, when I felt my best. I think back on this and marvel at my strength and tenacity. This helps me to realize just what I am (we are) capable of. And to have such a thing, bound, laminated with my name on the spine as a reminder? Priceless. (I had the spine cut off  the covers laminated, had them give it a spiral binding. I even signed my own copy, why not?). I saved the spine and applied a magnetic strip to it, it is on the fridge!  🙄

So, if you own a copy, here is some insider info:

Page 32, behind the plastic dye containers, on the wall is an ornament that Judy Coates Perez made for me.

Page 88 and 89: That is my good friend Cricket, who hepled the photographer and I organize ourselves.

Page 91: We had to rearrange the apartment to take the three sewing machine shots.

Page 112: The little wooden sewing machine was made for me by my friend Jod, the Snape ring to the right of it was made by my friend Shanna. The pinecones were sent to me as stuffing in a package.

Page 120: I call my bed quilt The Beast (it is KING size), I asked the photographer to take this photo, he didn’t really want to because it a wonky angle. But it made it in the book!

Page 126: The author photo was taken across the street, it was the first photo that was taken of me for that purpose. I like my softness. 

And, because this is a celebratory day, my one year anniversary (birthday?) from surgery, I am going to give away two books to folk who commented after helping me with my survey.

And the winners are?

Suzan Engler won this copy. Please email me!

Janet Burns won one copy. Email me please.

And heck, if you would like a signed copy, please don’t hesitate to click that button on the upper right. Or if saving some cash works better for you, Amazon has a pretty cheeky discount, Dreaming From the Journal Page.

And you know? Thank you. It has been a long road since this post, where Leslie helped me tell you what what happening. So many of you sent packages, cards, love, care, emails, prayers. You helped me to see that I am as well loved as I love. Thank you for that. That is a gift beyond measure.

Positively Flash Card Friday

Flash Card Friday

Here is another contribution to Flash Card Friday. Last week we talked about Negative Space, this week we talk about Positive Space. Positive space is object itself. Positive space is the person, place or thing that you are drawing. In the last post, I painted the negative space around the chair, in this one, I painted the chair itself.

As I have said before, negative space stymied and alluded me for years. I didn’t get it, so I created these two images to have relationship to one another so that you will not get confused like I did.

Have you considered making a set of Flash Cards for yourself? These can be used to challenge yourself to a throw down, as Chapter 5 in Dreaming from the Journal Page suggests. This will help you to start layering and building innovative and interesting journal pages all while trying out each technique in the book.

Embracing Ambiguity.

Two weeks ago, David and I went to Kripalu, a yoga retreat center that we visit regularly. Of course I packed up my travel kit, journal and special treats and I took the time to find a flower to two to draw and paint.

While drawing the orange flower I was bit by a nasty bug and am still healing from it!

The next day, I returned to that bug infested place for more torture, ops, I mean, same spot to color the drawing. This is the third drawing I have done at Kripalu. If you have Dreaming From the Journal Page check out pages 118 and 122 for the other two Kripalu flower drawings and a piece of art inspired by them.

When I came home, I continued to work the page using stencils to help ‘pattern up the page’ (this page is featured in video content from the Stencil Magic class (please sign up, I would love to work with you). I want the frenetic energy of the wildflower patch to really shine through and don’t feel as if I have captured that yet. I like the page a lot, it is moving into the right place but is not quite there. Almost, just about, but not quite. Oh the ambiguity. 

When I first started working in my journal pages over time like this, it felt quite uncomfortable. I felt as if I needed to return to the page as soon as possible and complete the image. But, I find when I would do that, I often make impulsive and ill defined decisions that leave me regretting and wishing I had taken the time to truly decide what my next step should be. For me, taking this sort of time is tantamount to creating the beautiful pages I want to see realized in my journals.

So, I wonder, how do you deal with creative ambiguity? Do you embrace it, struggle and push against it? Do you not experience ambiguity?  Talk to me! 

Flash Card Friday: Negative Space


It is once again Flash Card Friday, where I discuss techniques used in Dreaming From the Journal Page.

I don’t know why, but for years I had a very hard time remembering what negative space was. I had a mental block. Then one day my pal Angela looked at a stamp I had carved and said, “You have great command of negative space”. I looked at her dumbfounded and asked her to please explain what that meant.

Negative space is the the area around an object. Simple.

The use of negative space in my work is akin to creating windows into previous layers. See the peach/teal/polka dots? That was the first layer. After which, I outlined two figures (which is my Man and I) and painted around them using a royal blue. The royal blue is negative space.

Easy peasy, right?

When I journal, there are a few images that continually recur, this ‘couple’ is one of them. I started drawing elongated people and calling them David and I after we saw some Giacometti sculptures at Tate Modern. It was such a fabulous trip and the artwork spoke volumes to me, so they became personally iconic. Do you do this too?

My Guy and I are going away for a relaxing retreat at our favorite yoga center and we really need it. See you again on Tuesday!

Numinous thoughts.

Kass Hall and I speak to one another through Facebook, she is also a (4 time) cancer survivor and she has written a book, soon to be published about Zentangles, called Zentangle Untangled. Kass recently wrote a review of Dreaming from the Journal Page on her blog. Then she went and wrote this post.

And I got to thinking. When I was diagnosed, it was the exact same week I received the contract for Dreaming from the Journal Page. I approach life with a glass half full mentality. So, if you can’t do anything about a situation (in this case that would be a cancer diagnosis), and you love making stuff and have a contract sitting on your desk to write a book. You write that book and do whatever else needs doing, like get chemo and have surgery. This seems normal to me. Many people act as though this is an aberration, and make statements like, ‘I would curl up in a ball and sleep during something like that’. (Kass didn’t say this, but more than one person has.)

To which, I am nonplussed. Really?

But my thing is, if in doubt, paint something. If my mind is filled with negative, start a project and focus intently on it until reason prevails. Fear will always beckon, it’s the ‘frenemy’ you wanna shake and can never quite release. So, why give the mind a chance to settle in that place? And I am not saying that writing a book while going through treatment for breast cancer, or any cancer or sickness, is an easy thing to do, not at all. Maybe I am grateful that I have cultivated the wherewithal to apply art to major life experiences-no matter how challenging.

My bald head during treatment became a beacon of strength to me.

Where do you find courage and ability? Are you one of those who might curl in a ball and sleep? I find courage in the making. Painting, drawing, sewing, it fortifies me. It reminds me that I have ability and can push myself further. It reminds me that I want to be better, live more, extend myself to the limits of possibility.

To have my life threatened by a disease and to know that my lease on life is tenuous at best? That seems like courage to me. Or at the very least the impetus to be courageous. At the same time, I often feel like Kass, I know what I want and the steps I need to take in order to make my goals acheivable, but I freeze.  

My very own signed copy of Dreaming from the Journal Page

Are you frozen? Do you apply art to necassary situations? How do you cope with challenging circumstances? Kass and I would like to know.

Flash Card Friday: Stencils

One Flash Card for every technique in the book!

Here is the scoop, Chapter 3 of Dreaming from the Journal Page contains a lot of the techniques I use to play around in my journals. I encourage you to mix and match these ideas by engaging with the concept of ‘Throw Downs’, A Throw Down is a challenge or a creative ‘Double Dog Dare’, where you will take 1, 2, 3 or more techniques and use all of them on a single page of your journal. This is a way to get you layering and building imagery.

What better way to learn about each technique that to make a set of Flash Cards for yourself. I am not going to go into detail about how to do each technique (I wrote the book and would love for you to get a copy) but I will talk about each technique and how I go about using them.

The card up above is an image of Arrow, my supercat. I created the image by making a stencil inspired by a photograph. I have been using stencils in some really creative ways and I will share samples of each  technique and its use, here, on my blog on fridays, Flash Card Friday.

You may also be interested to know that my first Clever Guild class is called Stencil Magic, please sign up today!

A sample from the Stencil Magic Class.

This is a sample from the Stencil Magic class. I fully illustrate how to create this piece of cloth in the Stencil Magic class.

Find inspiration where you are.

Here is an example of a stenciled image photographed on a walk in my neighborhood. 

I am about to use my Arrow stencil in my journal, and will post the image later in the week.

If you would like to purchase a signed copy of my book, please check out the sidebar on the right hand portion of the blog. And. Um. I was thinking of charging a small fee to create signed Art Sticker for those of you who would like a ‘signed copy’ but have already bought your copy elsewhere, is there interest for this idea out there? Leave a comment.

The Webinar and a travel journal update

A sampling of what I would take if I were traveling to France! Or anywhere else.

Oh my goodness! I just finished the Webinar with Create Mixed Media and I think it was a success. I was a bit nervous, but that is to be expected. If you attended, thank you so very much for coming and for checking out my website, blog and… ahem….

my new teaching website, The Clever Guild.

The questions were great and I wanted to address a few of them here. 

When I make my journals I have been using Saunders Waterford 140lb. Hot Press Watercolorpaper. I am fickle and can change my mind often but this has been a favorite for the last two journals made. When I went to F.I.T, my teachers were adamant that we use Cold Press paper and I can’t remember why. They helped me form a habit that I was just recently able to break. Using Saunders Waterford 140lb Hot Press paper is somewhat new to me and I really like its flat surface and ability to hold a puddle of water for a long time.

The one paper that I do not like is Arches and the reason behind this is, when wet, it has a funky smell. I have never liked it and can’t confirm that their paper still smells because I am not willing to purchase it again.

The last journal I made used 4 different watercolor papers (and if you would like to hear my thoughts on them, just comment here on this post and I will expand on the topic), and I made the book with 4 different papers in order to test them out and see what I thought. There was one paper in that journal that I really did not like. But the Saunders paper shone like a pretty nugget of gold, so I have become a fan.

Above you will see what I would bring as a travel journal kit. The little palette is brand named Jack Richeson and I bought mine through Roz Stendahl‘s local art store, Wet Paint (she turned me on to these palettes [and if you go ahead and order a few, please tell them Melanie Testa sent you-I don’t get anything out of this, they are just really good people and independant). The little guys are just two dollars fifty, so buy quite a few and give them as gifts to your favorite art buddies (I do this and you know who you are!) 

I also carry a Pentel Pocket Brush Pen, a refillable cartridge style pen with actual bristles in the brush (!!!), a mechanical pencil with 3B lead, my favorite, and a Lamy Safari Fountain Pen using Platinum Carbon Black Ink. One of the best waterproof inks out there. I also carry and empty dropper bottle and fill it when I get to where I am going.

Free Webinar!

Webinar Promo from The Clever Guild on Vimeo.

I am teaming up with Create Mixed Media to offer a free webinar to celebrate the release of Dreaming from the Journal Page. Please sign up using this link. The Webinar will be Thursday, April 26th at 1 p.m. All registered participants will receive a recorded transcript that can be listened to and reviewed at your leisure.

See you there!

Survey Says!

Hi there-Please take a few minutes to fill out my online workshop survey. Ten questions, nothing fancy.

As incentive for responding,  I will give away, at random, up to three signed copies of my book. The number of copies given away will depend on the number of responses tallied.  So please, take the survey, leave a comment to enter your name in the giveaway and then email, facebook or otherwise contact your friends and art buddies so that they too will take the survey and perhaps win a copy of my book. Your enthusiasm and input will be (and is) greatly appreciated.