Come Join The Fun!

Monday, January 16, 2017

Playing Around With Lettering

Many of you know that back in October, Chris and I decided to open a booth at a vintage market, Picker's Place in Plant City. One of the side benefits of this adventure has been the opportunity to use my creativity in unexpected the sign you see above.

It's not perfect lettering and it didn't need to be for what it is—an attention grabbing sign! It was soooo much fun to do not to mention quick! (I copied the original for extra copies rather than lettering four different signs. It also stands out in the booth, letting folks know we have a few things we're looking to move out to new homes.

I love that I'm finding new and practical outlets for some of my creative energy!

Below is a peek at our booth:
This was taken during December. If you look closely, you'll see more lettering on the wall. You'll also see that insanely cool guitar lamp my uber-talented hubby made from a real guitar! Isn't that awesome?!
Here's a close up of the guitar lamp. It still has the strings and the volume knob is how you turn the light on and off! (Since I have "connections" to the guy who creates these beauties, I also have one hanging out in my living room!)

The clipboard was another opportunity to play around with yet more lettering (see a trend here?). It's a paper/cardboard clipboard from a discount market and was about to go in the trash. I slapped some chalkboard paint on it and spent a few very happy hours lettering out the saying.

I cannot tell you how much I enjoy adding an artistic touch to ordinary things and in unusual places. Sure, a lamp is a lamp, a wall is a wall, but why not add some flair to both by looking for ways to add your artistic style?!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Oh, The Surprises Life Can Throw At Us!

I found myself blessed with a VERY unexpected opportunity late yesterday—I was asked to appear on the Suncoast View as a guest to talk about Art Journaling!!

The cohosts finished a piece of artwork I had started (we only had five and a half minutes!!) while I answered questions about art journaling and gave a plug to Selby Gardens as well as the two upcoming classes I’ll be doing there in March and April.

If you’d like to see my very first LIVE appearance on television you can see it at the following links. The show airs at 4:00 pm today and will be available afterwords on the web site. I think my segment airs in the 30 to 45 minute section of the show.

Live stream link online at h​ttp://

Facebook: w​ww.

Following the broadcast and live stream, links to full episodes can be found at w​ 

I’d love to hear what you think (just be gentle—I've never done television before)!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Making Waves!

Can join me on Saturday, January 14th, for Anatomy of A Wave? 

One of the artists who is frequently in class made the statement, “I understand things better when I can hold them in my hand,” and she’s absolutely right. It is often easier to translate a 3D item onto a piece of paper once we understand how it is put together by holding it in our hands...but how do we hold a wave in our hand? It’s not possible!

What is possible is to look at a wave from different angles and see the shape it takes from those angles. Once we begin to understand a little of the shape, it becomes easier to adapt what we’ve learned to other viewpoints. By working in gray values so that color does not confuse us, we can learn the shape of the waves:

From there, we’ll need to work out the paint colors needed to replicate nature’s colors. You might be surprised to learn that we only need a handful of colors and among them you’ll find orange and yellow as well as violet! Below are some of the paint mixed used to create the final wave at the bottom of the post:

Last, we’ll put together what we’ve learned and we’ll create our wave in four steps. In the first step, we create just the basic shapes. In the second step, we’ll add shading to form the depth and volume of the wave. In the third step, we’ll adjust values. In the fourth step, we’ll add the “icing” which is the details of foam using a white pen. Each step builds one upon another to give you the final portrait of a wave breaking:

By studying shapes from different angles and understanding how a wave is formed, it becomes much, much easier to create those shapes on paper! I hope you can join me!

I hope you’ll come and join the fun of painting Anatomy of A Wave on Saturday, January 14th from 9 am to 12:30! Please note, to register for this class, please contact Keeton’s directly. Their number is 941.747.2995. They're located at 817 Manatee Avenue West in Bradenton, Florida.

UPDATE: For some folks, there are two small, blue boxes with question marks in them showing just above the first image and just below the last image. For some reason, I am unable to delete them. Only three images should be showing in the post regardless of those little blue boxes. My apologies for the confusion!

Friday, January 6, 2017

After The Holidays...

Happy New Year! 

Isn't it wonderful to begin a brand new year with a sense of hope and a lighter feeling? A whole calendar of days, pristine and unstained by what's come before (or so it seems). I'm not sure what it is about the new date that makes me so ridiculously hopeful and even expectant of good things to come, but there it is.

Unfortunately for me, 2016 ended much the way 2015 did—sick an upper respiratory infection that started way before Christmas. At the end of 2015, I wanted to throw the whole year in a trash heap and say forgetaboutit. 2015 seemed like a horrid, awful year even though it really wasn't. What I realized and wrote about here was that I was judging the whole year on the last two weeks of December when I was so ill.

Realizing I had not done a very good job of keeping track of my goals and accomplishments for the year, I resolved to make some serious changes. At the beginning of 2016, I got myself a planner and an accountability partner. I have to say those are probably two of the smartest things I've done in a very long time!

I also chose a word of the year (see below) and incorporated it into my planner as well as some art that hung out on my desk all year so I would not forget the word I'd chosen. These changes had a tremendous impact!

Fast forward to the end of 2016. Even though I've been sick for two three weeks, my feelings towards the whole year are completely, totally different. I can thumb through a stack of weekly emails that tracked what I worked on and when, goals accomplished, areas that could stand to be improved and a few areas where there simply was not enough interest to keep going. I redirected that energy into areas that could benefit from more attention.

My word of the year started out as progress and then progressed into thrive around the middle of the year. I was able to create more "live" teaching opportunities for 2017 with classes at Keeton'sMarie Selby Botanical Gardens as well as a chance to teach a week-long workshop in England with The Blue Walk! That's when I realized my progress was turning into thrive as many of my goals were beginning to come to fruition!

I found that having someone read my list of tasks week after week was a great motivator to get things done that probably wouldn't have happened without that check-in. It was also nice to have someone ask for specifics on an ongoing project as it helped me to get interested again when I found myself getting sidetracked by too many other tempting opportunities.

It also motivated me when I had one of those weeks that went off the rails and nothing on my tasks list was accomplished. My partner was there offer insights, to help me pick myself up and to push me forward rather than letting me sink into a pity party (that had the potential to derail the next few weeks).

As the year marched by, we started to refine our lists and efforts in ways that helped us to see where we were going and what we were doing as well as what we were accomplishing. We celebrated each other's accomplishment and milestones. We had occasional meet-ups so we could discuss things more fully than you can via email.

When we met late last year to wrap up 2016 and celebrate our accomplishments, we started working on ways we can leverage last year's success into making 2017 an even better year. The year has already gotten off to a crazy-busy start with several streams of attention that I'm attempting to juggle.
I suspect both my planner and my accountability partner are going to key to keeping me on track. Otherwise, I'm fairly confident I'm going to fall victim to attention splatter (read more on that here).

I'm looking forward to a prosperous, happy, 
fun-filled year that is my best one yet!

How did your 2016 shake-out? I know some of you were going to use planners while others were going to use a bullet journal or a program online and some of you lucky duckies were retiring...what worked for you and what didn't??

 Let's learn and grow from each other by sharing ideas!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Wishes For You

I wish for each of you the season's very best delights!

I hope your hearts are full, your eyes aglow with joy and you're surrounded by love. 

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Pack Your Bags, It's Time To Get Going!!

Oh, my goodness, I have so much to tell you! I've been quiet these last few months as I've been working on opportunities and I finally get to share all the joy with you! To cut down on confusion, I'm going to go in date order so I'm sure to cover all the yummy goodness coming up. You can bet I'll be sharing more in the weeks to come!

December 3, 2016
Festive Starfish Designs
Keeton's Office & Art Supplies
Bradenton, Florida
December 3
9 am - 12:30 pm
Cost: $35
Please call 941.747.2995 to register

These festive starfish can be arranged in a number of ways including a ball, a swirl, and a wreath, just to name a few! I know I haven't been able to stop at just one because this idea opens up so many possibilities.

This dimensional project combines scrapbooking paper, extra watercolor paper, salt, glue and a little bling! It's just another way we can make our journals come alive.

March 9-10, 2017
Painting Postcards In The Gardens Workshop
Sarasota, Florida
2-Day Workshop (March 9-10, 2017)
9 am - 3 pm
Cost: $215
Please click HERE to learn more and to register for the workshop. Registration is now open!

Selby Gardens is a lush, tropical playground and it's a perfect location to learn how fun Art Journaling can be! We'll work together to create a series of postcards of colorful sketches that can shared with friends and family, near and far. 

This class is open to all levels and will introduce various approaches to sketching and art journaling. Basic drawing skills, laying out a page or postcard, learning to observe,  adding interest with borders, background color blocks and such will also be covered. 

Weather permitting, our time divided between the classroom and working out in the gardens enjoying the sunshine! 

As a side note...I will be teaching an Art Journaling class at Keeton's Office & Art Supply in Bradenton, Florida on Saturday, March 11th. Keeton's is just a few miles north of Sarasota and the class will run from 9 to 12:30. If you would like to join this class, please click here. I will make the class information available as soon as possible! 

The recommended supply list can be found here

April 21, 2017

Advanced Painting Postcards In The Gardens Class
Sarasota, Florida
Friday, April 21, 2017; 9 am -12 pm
Cost: $65
Please click HERE to learn more and to register for the workshop. Registration is now open! 

We will continue to work together to create a series of postcards of colorful sketches that can shared with friends and family, near and far. 

This class is open to all levels and will quickly introduce various approaches to sketching and art journaling. Basic drawing skills, laying out a page or postcard, learning to observe,  adding interest with borders, background color blocks and such will also be briefly covered. 

Weather permitting, our time will mostly be spent working out in the gardens enjoying the sunshine with a brief beginning and closing session in the classroom.

The recommended supply list can be found here.

August 14-20, 2017
An Imaginary Trip Made Real To England 2017! Workshop
Stratford-Upon-Avon, England
Monday - Saturday, August 14-20, 2017
Please Click Here For Tour Details and To Register 

All aboard for a fabulous trip to the Cotswolds and in particular, Stratford-Upon-Avon, home of William Shakespeare! English cottages, impressive palaces, afternoon tea, rolling meadows, meandering canals, cobblestone streets...need I say more?!

I am so very, very pleased to be partnering with The Blue Walk to provide this travel workshop to you. You may have heard of the Blue Walk before as they have hosted a number of Art Walks with artists like Leslie Fehling and Jane LaFazio, to name a few. They get and understand the need to slow down and really see rather than look and go. Needless to say, we'll be in very good hands!

There will be many impromptu, on-location demos provided throughout the day, depending on our day's activities as well as some advance instruction because I am a strong believer in a-n-t-i-c-i-p-a-t-i-o-n and it makes the trip begin way before we ever step foot into the English Countryside! 

Once we return, there will be a little more info sent out to help keep you on track to finish your sketchbook and to add in a few memory sketches as well as any ephemera you may have picked up in your travels. 

Does seven days wandering the English town of Stratford-Upon-Avon, time spent with likeminded folks with the opportunity to indulge your love of art and sketching, sound like your idea of a great trip?!

If so, click here to sign up and join me!

I am in the process of creating the schedule for 2017 for the online classes we will visit via virtual reality. If there's somewhere you'd like to visit, please share the location in the comments. I'd love to know where you want to go. 

Whew! That's a lot and I am sooooooooooo excited to share all these fabulous upcoming opportunities with you. I hope there will a date (or seven) where we can connect and spend some time together making art and happy memories!

As always, please let me know of any questions you have!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Overcoming Fear And The "Perfect Picture" In Our Minds

Do you have a muse? A completely imaginary but totally real artistic influence that gives you courage and encouragement, tempts you to try new things and takes you to places you never would have gone on your own (either in life or in your artwork)?

I do! Her name is Sam and I've spoken about her on the blog before. She is as real to me as you are. I can describe how she looks, how she sounds, how she cuts her eyes at me when I say or think something limiting. 

By turns, she is daring, naughty, laugh-out-loud funny, fearless and kind. She doesn't ask for permission and she doesn't really give a hang about anyone's opinion, including mine. Maybe most especially mine. Simply put, she is the best of me and the best of what I'd like to be.

I can also hear her needling me about being too careful or convincing me to jump off the proverbial high dive board and how, quite often, she challenges me to keep going on a piece of art that I would likely abandon because it’s not going in the direction I intended it to go  it doesn't look like the "perfect picture" in my mind.

Seashells By The Seaside is one of those pieces. I can tell you from the very first mark I put on the page, I knew I was in "trouble" because it didn’t go where I meant for it to go, it wasn't going to match that "perfect picture" in my head. 

And I was working in permanent pen. Oops. 

As the page progressed, I continued to go down a path I did not mean to. It was taking me further and further from what I had in my head. While I was toying with the idea of starting over, Sam came over, pulled the pen out my hand and shooed me out of the way. 

Sam’s working theory on art, and life too, is this: There are NO mistakes, just new and different directions. When I’ve completely botched the original idea (read that as, “no longer held hostage by preconceived notions"), it's time for the fun to begin and to see where we can go! She’d also be yelling, “Yeehaw!” as she raced off with my our idea, but that’s her.

Needless to say, this piece of art is NOTHING like I had in mind when I started. It looks nothing like that "perfect picture" I had in my head.

Is it better? I can’t say. What I can say it that it’s different and rather than assign an arbitrary value to the artwork being good enough or better than, I decided to simply enjoy the work as it turned out.

We often cobble ourselves by focusing too much on the image in our minds rather than using it as a guide. When we make a mark on the page that doesn't sync with the perfect mind picture, we react to it as if it were a mistake but is it? 

What do you suppose would happen if instead, we took it as our "true voice" (read that as "muse") speaking up and making itself known? 

Our fears of making mistakes, of wasting time and resources, of others' opinions can take away our true voice and bog us down in a rut doing the same thing—safely—or keep us from experimenting with a new or different way of doing things.

In hindsight, making marks that did not work with my "perfect mind picture" was a gift of freedom. It allowed me to kick the idea to the curb and start fresh. What you see above is what happened when I let myself play. 

If you're in the Bradenton/Sarasota area, I hope you can join me at Keeton's Office and Art Supply on Saturday, September 24th, from 9 to 12:30 as I delve more into the process and overcoming those pesky fears. For more info, please click here

How do you get past your fears? What do you do when your work and your "perfect mind picture" part ways? Do you stop and start over or keep going?

Saturday, August 27, 2016


Okay, I'm in serious denial. This is Florida with temperatures in the high 90's, with hurricanes and tropical storms swirling around us, and we don't see Autumn before December (usually) at the earliest...but why let a little thing like reality spoil the party?!

 I'm going to have myself an An Imaginary Visit Through Autumn and my autumn is going to have cool temperatures, gorgeous jewel-toned leaves, a cup of tea, a bowl of my favorite soups, maybe even a wood fire! Wanna come play with me?!
I did this piece last November and it was meant to pay homage to some of my FAVORITE things! in fact, I was picking up acorns in a parking lot today. (I think I may have been a squirrel in a past life!) I'm thinking there might be a few more items to add to this list...

Farmer's Markets, gorgeous flowers, scarecrows, crows, acorns, pumpkins, and who knows what else might show up on our sketchbook pages! I hope you'll consider joining me. The class will be four assignments long (6 weeks) and starts this coming Thursday, September 1st! 

I can tell you it's going to be a blast. I may have to crank the AC down and dodge a hurricane or two, but I can't wait for cooler temperatures and turning leaves!

For more information on An Imaginary Visit Through Autumn, please click here. I look forward so sharing the fun with you!

Monday, August 1, 2016

There Will Be Days...

There will be days when the challenges stack up, left and right.

There will be days when it seems easier just to give into the defeat than to keep fighting.

There will be days when nothing makes sense and the fight seems pointless.

And yet...

There will be days when I remember why I do what I do and why I love what I do. Those are the days I live for. The moments that make up those days are the reasons why I continue to overcome the challenges that would see me give up.

I've recently had a bunch of those challenging days gang up on me all at once. Technology is a wonderful, marvelous thing—until it's not working right, a piece of the system changes or has to be replaced. I use an analogy of a spider web. Wherever a spider web is touched, it is felt all over the web. The bigger the touch, the stronger the vibrations.

My camcorder malfunctioned and I was quite annoyed to learn that the maker considered the camera "obsolete" even though it's only six years old. Of course, in the world of technology, that's a dinosaur. When I switched to a new camera, my lighting setup no longer worked well. More changes. Then there was a memory card malfunction. And if these had the only challenges, it wouldn't have been so bad, but life doesn't work that way. There were other challenges, unrelated to work, going on in the background.

A casualty of those "stacked" challenges was my concentration to write and post to the blog.

There are days when I have to scrape pretty close to bottom before I realize it's not a place I want to be, let alone linger in, and the only way for me to realize this seems to be for me to go there.

One of the things that helped to pull me back up and refill my well was a great class at Keeton's. Since it's been so bloody hot here in Florida (and a lot of other places as well), we worked on painting ice cream in our sketchbooks using stencils for the cone and backgrounds.

And, yes, we had a blast! Below are three of the ladies from class with their gorgeous ice cream cones (everyone chose their own flavors) and there wasn't a calorie in sight.
Marilynn, Mary and Gayle
Once again, it was the healing fun of art, the camaraderie of working with others to learn and create art that seemed to restore a sense of balance to my life.

The challenges are inevitable. To some degree, they're even wanted. How boring would life be with no mountains to climb or obstacles to scale?

And I'm sure there will be more weeks when they all happen at once and yet again, decisions will have to be made about whether to fight or give in.

I'm also willing to bet art will be there to save the day!

How is your (hotter than all-get-out) summer going? Are you painting, sketching or pursuing some other artistic pursuit? Please share in the comments!

Monday, June 20, 2016

Come And Play!!

Two quick reminders for this week!

An Imaginary Visit To A Tulip Festival will begin this Thursday! We'll be working with all kinds of bright color both close up and at a distance over a field. We'll also play around with all kinds of greens and how to make them interesting. If this sounds like fun to you, come and join me! Please click here or on the class title to sign up!

P.S. As will be celebrating six years of creative fun and learning, I am offering this class at a special celebratory price. Check out the link above to find out more!

Next up, if you're anywhere nearby, plan on joining me for a class at Keeton's Office And Art Supply in Bradenton this Saturday, June 25th! We'll be capturing the jeweled wings of the Monarch Butterfly in our sketchbooks! It seems kind of appropriate since today marks the Summer Solstice!

To sign up for this class, please contact Keeton's directly by following the link above!

Hope to see you there or in the Imaginary Realm!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

(Help Me To) Pay It In Kindness #ForOrlando

Laying awake last night, I found myself asking the same question over and over.

"How do you stop the hate?"

What would make a young man so full of hate by the ripe, old age of 29, that he would take it upon himself to kill 49 people while leaving scores more injured?

I found no answers. Folks far smarter than me don't seem to have the answers either.

I've watched some of the vigils held around the world to mark solidarity and to remember the victims. I've given money to some of the relief efforts, and yet, I feel...frustrated. Like those few token gestures were not quite enough. Perhaps you've felt the same way?

You may have called your congressman or woman to ask for stronger gun laws, or you've sent a letter or joined in a protest or you may have sat quietly and cried tears for the incredible loss of life. I have.

As I chased this question around and around in my mind last night I finally decided there was something more I could do—I could Pay It In Kindness.

Paying It Forward
Here's my idea—I intend to pay kindness forward 49 times for each of the lives lost. Then I'll pay kindness forward 53 more times for each of those injured. That's 102 acts of kindness paid—deliberately—into a world that seems to have tilted ever so slightly off its axis.

If even one other person joins me, we'll be bring 204 acts of kindness into the world. And if ten of you join me, there will be 1,020 acts. If one hundred people act, that's 10,200 and if a thousand people act, that's well over 100,000 acts of kindness.

Kindness Of Every Kind
There are thousands of ways to be kind. Even the poorest among us can spare a smile or a compliment. It makes no difference if the person knows of our acts or not. Because we know and kindness has a way of making us feel good just as it does the recipient. A few suggestions:

Hold the elevator door...share your a cup of coffee for the next person in line behind someone pick up spilled items...tell someone how much you like their eyes or their smile...speak kindly when aggravated...take a breath to let go of impatience...tip your waitstaff a larger amount then necessary...let someone in when you're sitting in traffic...give a stranger a flower...let someone have your seat on the as you pass people on the sidewalk...stop and visit with an elderly person for a few minutes...tell a child how much they inspire you...give the toll for the person behind you...curb your impatience for the person driving slow in front of you...

Maybe, just maybe, if we fill the world with kindness, we'll begin to crowd out the hate that drives someone to harm others.

This Is About The Human Condition
This post is NOT about political party lines, gun laws, alternate lifestyles, religious beliefs, or anything else EXCEPT recognizing we're all in this together and it will take all of us to bring about change. I cannot change the world. You can't either. But we can change ourselves. We can all be kinder and share kindness with those we love as well as unsuspecting strangers.

Please SHARE
I don't usually ask for you to share anything from this blog, but this time, I'm asking you to share this idea with others. Share the graphic at the top of the image along with a link to the post or give it your own spin.

Join me in bringing something good out of the horrific events in Orlando this weekend. 

Thank you.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Unexpected Gifts

An Imaginary Visit To A Tulip Festival!
One of the coolest things to happen along my artistic path are the connections I've made along the way. It is odd to me that some of my "closest friends" are people who live thousands of miles from me and I only actually see once in a great while, but then to me, that's the real beauty of the world wide web.

One such connection is Claire McFeely who recently sent me a disk full of gorgeous photos from a trip she took with her family to Skagit Valley, Washington, to the annual Tulip Festival—a place I've always wanted to visit!

Undulating waves of colorful blossoms, kites rising gently over the fields, happy shining faces of the visitors, portraits of delicate tulips lifting towards the sun...and an imaginary visit was born!

I had intended to wait until next April to put the class on the class schedule as this when the real festival happens, but I decided I didn't want to wait. This unexpected gift was too bright and colorful and fun to be ignored and we all know artists are hard pressed to ignore any new, bright, colorful, fun thing that comes along!

I invite you to come and visit the tulip festival with me. An Imaginary Visit To A Tulip Festival with start on Thursday, June 23rd! To make this even more of an unexpected gift as Imaginary Trips is celebrating six years of travel sketching, I have included a discount on the pricing of the class. Click here or on the class title to find more information!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Simple Changes That Make A Big Difference

Monarch Butterfly on Globe Thistle
Ink and Watercolor
The drawing for this piece of art has been sitting on my desk for a while. It took me a while to realize I was avoiding painting it. In its former life, it was a full page sketch with the background mostly abstract containing suggested shapes and lots of greens, yellows, blues and violets.


It didn't excite me and it was a lot of space to paint. Especially when I wasn't all that excited about it. (I don't know about you, but if I'm not excited about painting something, I tend to do a lousy job at it.)

After realizing I was resistant to tackling the piece, I began the process of sussing out what the problem was and it was mostly the background. It took up a lot of real estate and it didn't really add anything (IMO).

Playing around with ideas, I scratch out some thumbnails looking for a better overall use of the space.  I was looking for a composition that excited me:
While they're not a lot to look at, thumbnails do the job of visualizing possibilities. Starting at the upper left, I started with a smaller version of the full page, limiting the background and adding a title at the bottom.

I then decided to break the border and put titles at the top and the bottom. I then moved on to putting the title along the right side. From there I abandoned the title idea and put in an erratic line for a border, and—eureka!

I decided to break the border AND put the word, monarch, down the right side, as part of the border.

Once I started drawing the page again, I scaled the box back even more so that butterfly's wings would break through on each side.

That made the stems kinda short and I would have lost one of the leaves, but by leaving them outside of the box, I added a little more interest.

After the painting was done, I decided to add splatters (mostly because I need to camouflage some errant drops of paint). Splatters are an easy way to add energy as well fill in "too" much white space (if that's even possible. I've never had too much white space, but I digress...).

In about half the time it would have taken me to create a full page, I had a page that I not only liked but I'm looking forward to sharing with my class at Keeton's Office and Art Supply on Saturday, June 25th. If you can, please come and join the fun!

Please click Keeton's name to find more info on signing up on the class.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Craving Distraction, But Too Distracted To Be Distracted

From the Imaginary Visit To Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks class*
Have you ever found yourself desperately wanting to distract yourself from something ongoing in your life and at the same time you're too distracted to do anything for long? 

That seems to describe where I've been at for the last few weeks. 

The few times I've been able to focus has been either while preparing class materials like the piece above from the Imaginary Visit To Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks class or when I am painting in my sketchbook...not sketching, but painting. 

I guess painting takes a lot more concentration and so I find my sketches turning into paintings in my current sketchbook. 

What is it that I need to be distracted from? My mother's worsening dementia. 

We've started exploring options for in-home care to take some of the load off from my father and it's been...rocky. Big-boulder-sized-rocks-kind-of-rocky. 

Painting has always been a balance between meditation and torture for me. The further I've traveled down this path of creativity, the more the balance has shifted towards mediation and away from torture. 

In the past, I've struggled over the smallest things gone wrong in a painting. Now I recognize it as part of the process and not critical (usually). It flavors the painting with nuances of the me, as the artist, as the imperfect being that I am.

From the Imaginary Visit To Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks class*
It is times like these that I am so very thankful for the outlet of creativity in my life. I feel like maybe, just maybe, I might create something beautiful out of the stress and unhappiness that comes from watching my mom fade away. 

The image above is from my Lavender Fest "story"'s morphed way past a journal or a sketchbook at this point as it has become my escape when things get a little too intense. 

This situation has been impacted my life in many ways with (or not) sketching being one of the more obvious. It has also had an impact on the time I've spent online and posting to social media and this blog. So if I go missing, know that I'll return. I'm either dealing with a mini-crisis or recovering from one!

* The two top pieces of art focus on incorporating maps as decorative elements onto the sketchbook page. The diagonal rectangle in the top image is an envelope that will be filled with a treasure from my trip. The cool thing about the envelope that there is another map printed on the inside!

Friday, April 22, 2016

Escaping Through Art

I don't know about you, but every once in a while, life gets obnoxiously tedious with lots of little "events" that I could do without. Things that cause small amounts of stress and worry. By themselves, they're no big deal.
Unfinished Daffs from 2009

But together, it's like being ganged up on and pecked by a bunch of ducks until I'm a bundle of raw nerves. Together, all those events feel huge. Overwhelming.

And that's when I turn to art as an escape.

Back in 2007, when my job was outsourced to another country, I spent 18 months trying to find another. Unfortunately, the economy was in a nosedive and there wasn't much out there. During those months, art became my way of maintaining my sanity.
From 2008

I started sharing my work on this blog and people stopped by to say hello. I found myself with a new community of friends and before I knew it, I was launching Imaginary Trips!

Before I started the trips, I would frequently "run away" to the garden or the kitchen or a coffee shop so I could escape into my sketchbook and away from the worry of trying to find a job in a lousy economy.

What I realized early on, was that I really liked traveling via my imagination! Who knew it would be so much fun. I could go where I wanted, when I wanted and I didn't have to pack a thing!

Imaginary Trips, from the very beginning has been about escape. Sure, the classes are about growing our skills and preparing for a big trip. It's also about going to places we've not been before or are not likely to get to any time soon.

Sometimes, we're not physically able to travel or we can't break from from our obligations and other times, it's not financially feasible.  There are a host of reasons why it makes sense to travel via our imagination rather than in reality.

By going on an imaginary trip, it's possible to control the weather, how long it takes to get somewhere, the circumstances upon which we travel and where we go. We can travel solo or with friends and we don't have to worry about anyone standing around tapping their toe wishing we'd hurry up. There's no rush to get home and we get to sleep in our own beds each night! We don't have to wait for the seasons to change—you can see them all if you want to—on the same trip.

It's also a fabulous way to keep our skills sharp or to continue to grow our skills when we "go on a trip." Especially if I'm preparing for a real trip I have coming up in the future. I find it so much easier to be creative all along rather than to try to get creative right before or during a big trip.

But for me, I think the most important thing about going on an imaginary adventure is that while it lifts me out of my current circumstances, it also allows me control over those circumstances. It allows me to forget about the struggles and worries for those few precious moments I'm in the zone and creating a memory on my sketchbook pages. Stress goes away. Worry melts. Joy comes and infuses the minutes and a sense of balance is restored.

Sounds pretty good, doesn't it?

If you'd like to join in on an imaginary adventure, please join me for "An Imaginary Visit to Yellowstone and Grand Tetons National Park" starting on May 12th. We'll explore the rugged mountains, hot springs, abundant wildlife and delicate wildflowers without having to camp or sleep on the ground! Click the class title for more info.

If you're not able to join in an interactive class, take a look over at The Imaginary Realm for independent learning classes. They're the same as the interactive classes without the time constraints. You work at your own pace and you have access to the materials for a year. Click on the link for more information.

Detail shot of the front cover
If classes are not for you, strike out on your own. Pick a location and decide when you're going to go, how you'll travel and who will be traveling with you. Look for information on the internet about where you'd like to go along with photos in the public domain to paint from and build an adventure in your sketchbook.

In my "spare" time, I've started a journal to chronicle a trip to the Lavender Festivals. I've only just started it and I work on it in starts and stops, but the time I spend playing in that journal are so very important to my wellbeing. It's a relief to "be away" from the daily grind.

Your imagination is the limit!

Friday, April 1, 2016

National Ball Cap Day

Is it my imagination or has the old-fashioned courtesy of taking your hat off when you're inside gone the way of the unicorn?

We went to dinner with my father-in-law the other night and I was amazed at the number of guys (and a few gals) with hats on. I drew the two gentlemen in the sketch above simply because they were sitting in front of us. It also surprised me to see a guy wearing a purple polo! Go, dude, good for you. 

It started out as sketching practice—and I'm pleased to say I'm improving—before becoming more of an awareness about the hats. You haven't seen the other people sketches because they looked more like aliens. Disfigured aliens. Maybe a few zombie aliens. Definitely not pretty. But highly entertaining.

I started looking around and it seemed over 50% of the male population was wearing hats. I'm sure this is nothing new. It's just one of the many gifts of sketching—it tends to raise your level of awareness about what's going on right in front of you.

Have you had that happen to you? You're sketching a place or a thing and suddenly you're launched down a totally unexpected path of learning because the sketching made you slow down to observe? That's what keeps me sketching. Those unexpected paths that lead me to random, seemingly unrelated learnings...that nearly always comes back into play at a later date.

I especially find travel journaling to be like that. Maybe because my mind is already open to new experiences in a place I've not been before. My left brain becomes a little like a toddler, "Why? Why this? Why that? How come that's green or he's wearing that or she said that?"

The cool thing about my left brain being busy is that it leaves my right brain alone and allows it to do what it does best, draw.

If you're interested in learning more about sketching on location, come and join me for An Imaginary Visit To Sweden, starting on April 7th. We'll be explore the country, its people and history. Click here for more info.

P.S. And by the way, National Hat Day is in January. As far as I know there's no National Ball Cap Day! Happy April!!

P.S.S. I am one spread away from being finished with this no name watercolor sketchbook that has been my purgatory for the last six months or so. Cannot wait to be finished with it so I can get back to my beloved Stillman and Birn sketchbook.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Knowing When To Give Up...And Take A Break! (Saturday Class)

Knowing when to give up and go to the beach...sounds so simple, doesn't it?! And yet most of us just keep slogging rather than taking that much needed break.

It's hard to step away even though we may not be at our best and on top of our game. We keep pushing and pushing.

Giving ourselves a break is often much easier to do than we think it is. We may not be able to get to the beach, but what about playing with the dog or sitting in the sunshine?

When I saw the original quote that gave me the idea for this, it was about having a drink and while that works too, I think getting outdoors and enjoying the springtime is a much better choice—especially if you happen to be close to the beach!

With that in mind, I set out to create a quick page in my sketchbook and that blossomed into a class!

I'll be teaching this at Keeton's Office and Art Supply, this Saturday, March 26th. They're located in Bradenton.

I hope you can come and enjoy the fun. You do not know how to do lettering to create the page!

I hope to see you there!

Friday, March 11, 2016

The Gateway To Creativity: Mistakes

There are those days...when it seems that despite the very best of efforts, mistakes happen.

And let's face it, mistakes are going to happen. They can no more be separated from the creative process than breathing can be separated from living.

We're stuck with them...and I dare say that's a good thing!

When Mistakes Happen
During the last class at Keeton's, I heard the telltale "gasp!" quickly followed by, "Oh no!!" from the artist sitting at the front table.

When I glanced up from helping another artist, Faith* was staring down at her work with a horrified look on her face.

"I painted the strawberry juice on the table instead of on the plate!" she said.

Sure enough, it looked as though someone had been very messy ladling out the strawberries for her shortcake. Of course, they hadn't gotten a drop on the plate!

And here's why I say mistakes are the gateway to creativity—because at this point, we have three options:

  1. Start over. Give up, tear the page out, gesso over it, glue another piece of paper down, use acrylic paint to cover the offending gaff, or turn the page and ignore it like it never happened. Optional behaviors: wring hands, gnash teeth, wail inconsolably.
  2. Quit. Quit painting, quit sketching, quit trying, quit being creative. Swear off all creative endeavors. Optional behaviors: Sulking, stewing, anger, temper tantrums. 
  3. Play. Recognizing the opportunity that's just fallen into your lap and playing! That's right, play. After all, if your other two choices are either to hide or destroy the work and the other is to quit, why not play and see what happens. You will not have lost anything if you still cover up or tear the page out. Optional behaviors: laughing, learning, thinking, smiling, embracing, experimenting, shrugging, moving on.

Starting over can be creative, but what I'm talking about is embracing the mistake and finding a way to incorporate it without giving up and beginning anew. This takes Intelligent Creativity. It requires stepping back, taking an objective look at the work, consider the tools at hands and how best to create something new or different from the detour we took from our expected outcome.

This usually requires a bit of ingenuity and letting go of expectations as to how the page was suppose to turn out.

Are Mistakes Bad?
The foregone conclusion most of us operate under is that mistakes are bad...but are they?

It's worth our time to examine that statement to see if it's true. Have you ever gotten lost on the way to a destination only to discovered a newfound place you'd never have stumbled upon if you had not gotten lost?

When I looked over Faith's page, I saw a "fix" immediately to do away with the messy strawberry juice that marred her creative effort. I suggested painting the "table top" red as if there was a table cloth. And it worked. In fact, it gave her work a strong "pop" of color and a bold, graphic look.

I made a big mistake that day as well. Take a look at the page at the top of this post and you'll see three layers of white whip cream...there were only suppose to be two! This is the page I did for class.

What would have happened if I'd thrown up my hands and quit or gnashed my teeth and threw a temper tantrum because I had too much whip cream? (Is that even possible?!) They probably would have thought I needed some kind of intervention.

Realizing I had too many layers, I decided to incorporate the area to look like an extra layer of whip cream and no one, except for the folks in the class would ever know, unless I told them.

Stop To Think
When we make mistakes, we panic and it seems our default position is usually to start over.

Instead, why not take a deep breath, calm down and figure out a way to make the unexpected change work for us by using our gift of intelligent creativity? By making a conscious decision to let go of our expectations and fear so we can embrace the opportunity to play, we increase our chances of going somewhere new, maybe even better, exponentially.

This is the gateway to creativity and the key usually comes gift-wrapped as a mistake.

What will you do with your next "gift?"

*Faith gave her approval and blessing for me to share her story on the blog. 

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Painting Strawberries!!

Can you go wrong with strawberries...and shortcake and whipped cream? Or dipped in chocolate for some decadent yummy? Or just plain berries, fresh from the field?!

Strawberries are in season in Florida and our Strawberry Festival starts next Thursday so it's seems the perfect time to add some strawberry-awesomeness to our journal.  Berries are a favorite subject of mine because they're easy and because of all that delicious color!

We're going to be painting strawberries AND strawberry shortcake at Keeton's Office and Art Supplies in Bradenton.

Come and join the fun this Saturday, February 27th from 9 am to noon! Please contact Keeton's to register.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

When To Sketch...And When Not To

Alternate Title: Feeding The Fish
A fanciful interpretation of a Sheephead
Got a few minutes? Let me tell you about our fishing trip last Friday. Our family gave my father-in-law (FIL) a voucher for a fishing trip for his birthday back in September and you know how it goes, we assled (southern word) around and time got away from us.
White Egret looking for an early breakfast
Fast forward to the first of the year and my FIL was in a panic thinking he was going to lose the trip because the voucher was about to expire, so plans were made. And fell through because the weather is kinda iffy out on the water at this time of year with all weather fronts moving through. (Apologies to my Northern friends, I know this is nothing compared to what you're dealing with!)
Gulfport Marina
Finally, the date was set—February 12th and...the weather holds! It's kinda cool and there's a front scheduled to move in, but we're going. Now there is some kind of a law that says you have to go early if you're going to do anything outside (in Florida) and if you're with my FIL, you'll be there even earlier than early.

Unfortunately, the guy with the boat did not get the "early memo" and was not there early. This left us plenty of time to explore the marina. This took about 10 minutes. After that, we started bird watching...osprey, sparrows, egrets and a big blue heron (which I missed getting a photo of). It sounded a little like Jurassic Park with all the bird cries.
He was dissuade from going fishing with us
after being shooed away from the boat
Boat guy shows up, gets the boat in the water, gets bait and we're on our way.

The next three and half hours include watching the dolphin, catching fish (and throwing the little ones back), motor issues, being towed, more fishing and finally, coming back in. As they* say, "a bad** day fishing beats the best day in the office."
Engine trouble on the water. This is the tow
boat taking us back to shore.

*They as in expert fisherpeople.
**This was in no way a bad day!

Blue skies, sunshine, and biting fish—the recipe for a most excellent day on the water!
Keepers of the day
As for the title of this post, there are times to sketch and there are times not to. I found between the movement of the boat, the boat wakes, the cold and the general environment (wet), I was not inclined to attempt to sketch. even though I had my sketching stuff. The boat was a tight fit for five people with each of us constantly casting, reeling in fish, getting hung on the rocks below and baiting hooks.
The Fishin' Ferlitas!
Could it have been done? Yes. However, after weighing the odds of dropping my sketchbook (probably overboard, knowing me) and/or being in the way of the others, it didn't seem worth the attempt. I waited until I was home and the floor had quit moving before sitting down to sketch.

Up above you see my take on a colorful Sheephead rather than with its normal coloring. An excellent reminder of a super fun day with family doing something we all love. And we still have the fish fry to look forward to! Yum!!


Don't forget—classes start soon at! Come and join us in Norway!

If you don't have time for an interactive class, consider taking a class at The Imaginary Realm!