Monday, April 21, 2014

Iowa Green

Welcome to a new week.  It seems that the first signs of new life are happening at last.  Spring has swept her joyful wand across Iowa and I am finally beginning to see green, new buds and growth in my garden.

I love this time of year, full of promise and renewal, and the never ending wonder of the cycle of life.  Finally, I will have more days to sit in my garden and sketch.

Of course, the leaves are never straight, their unfurling means they are small and curled.  Such beauties that are sometimes tricky to sketch.  But practice helps.

This sketchbook page was done in watercolor and ink.
I hope you have a wonderful week ahead of you.  Take your sketchbook wherever you go.

Thanks for checking in. xx

Friday, April 18, 2014

Friday Sketches - Week 7

 Welcome to Friday sketches. This is a weekly opportunity for you to share what you've been doing in your sketchbook or art-journal, and to connect to a wonderful community of fellow creative souls.

You can link your Friday Sketches at the end of this post.

Click here to view previous Friday Sketches

I want to thank everyone again who entered my Watercolor Pencil workshop giveaway as part of last week's Friday Sketches.  

The final two winners of a place in the class are:

Puneet Sidhu
Laila Jensen

Congratulations, and thank you for entering.  Please email me to confirm your registration.

Today for Friday Sketches I am showcasing some of the wonderful work that was shared by participants last week.  Be sure to click through and visit their blogs or social media pages.

In Laila's Corner
In Love With Colors

Janet's Art Play

shout to the lord daisies
Sentiments and Scrapbooks

Prachee :)

Maddie and Cyan messing around during practice.
Creative Explorations

My Secret Nest

Passion For Paper

My Secret Nest

My Secret Nest

Bare Footed Wanderer

Keeping a sketchbook or art journal enables you to practice your sketching skills, doodle creatively, meditate artistically, or any write your heart out, all while capturing the beauty and simplicity of the world around you. You can use any mediums, any techniques, and sketch any subjects you like. 

To join in Friday Sketches, simply link-up your specific blog post or social media image using the Linky link at the end of this post. You can link up any time during the coming week for a chance to have your sketches showcased on this blog next Friday. 

Be sure to put a link back here in your post and then visit the other participants to see what they have been up to. 

You can grab your "Friday Sketches" blog button here.

Thanks for checking in. xx

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Watercolor Lemons

Art of the garden is my first love, and it is here that I always find the most peace and flow.  There is no doubt that I am spending more and more time focusing in on floral/botanical/nature art.

I don't always have the time to be patient, so I have been doing some quick, more stylized watercolor sketches of fruit on the branch.  This week it's lemons in my Stillman & Birn "Zeta" Series Sketchbook using Sennelier L'aquarelle Artists Watercolors.

A simple pencil sketch started this page, blocking in the main shapes.  The colors were layered from lightest to darkest, maintaining values in the same color families and keeping the mixes very simple.

Up close, you can see a mish-mash of texture and brush strokes, but viewed from a distance, you can actually get a sense of the roundness of the fruit.  

Saving white spaces and maintaining highlights helps here. 

This was worked from a photograph as it's a little early for fruit to be making an appearance in my neck of the woods.

I am so looking forward to capturing more beauty from the garden in this way. 

Thanks for checking in. xx

(Linking to Paint Party Friday)
(Linking to Art Journal Every Day)
(Linking to Artists Play Room)

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Watercolor Pencil & Mixed Media

When working with watercolor pencils, you don't have to draw directly onto a blank white page.  Sometimes a colorful vibrant background can work beautifully behind even the most complex of subjects.  The key is to mix up the media, creating a kind of dimensional distance between the subject and the background.

Painting a sketchbook page with matte acrylic can be an excellent surface on which to draw with watercolor pencils.  The matte acrylic creates a grainy tooth on which the pencil can hold.  It also creates a strong surface for other media. 

This page was done in a Stillman & Birn "Epsilon" Series Sketchbook.  The background was painted with Delta Ceramcoat Acrylic Paint.  These are more of a craft paint than a fine art acrylic, but they work beautifully for this kind of sketchbook treatment. 

When the page was dry, I sketched the flower using watercolor pencils, then used more acrylic to block in the main colors and shapes.  When it was dry I added shading and detail with more watercolor pencil.  I blended the pencil with water and this also enabled me to capture some of the acrylic underneath, thus creating some lovely color effects.

Just for fun, I added some sweeps of gold leafing over the stems, and Silks Acrylic Glaze over the flower petals.  It was a fun simple sketchbook page that looks more complicated that it was.  

I often paint several pages with blazing acrylic color and let them dry, then I take my sketchbook out into the garden, or somewhere else, and I sketch.  It's a wonderful way to shake up your sketching experience by breaking away from the standard white page...give it a go!!

I am scheduled to present a 90 minute live broadcast as part of 21 Secrets LIVE in June of this year.  I will be working through this technique as well as offering some other very simple, yet effective art journaling tips. 
Unfortunately, 21 Secrets LIVE is sold out, but you can still sign up for 21 Secrets SPRING through Dirty Footprints Studio.  Click here for more information.

Keep your eye out for more opportunities to catch me presenting live creative sessions over the coming year.

Thanks for checking in. xx

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


This blog post was originally published in early 2012.  It generated a lot of interest back then, and it felt especially relevant now when I look back over the past few years.

I hope you don't mind that I share it again.

What age is considered 'mid-life'? The cookie-cut 'life stages' don't apply to me, unfortunately. I'm a woman who didn't find my husband until my late 30's, and didn't start my family until I was into my 40's. Yet many of my friends, who are the same age, journeyed a different path. They have children who are adults, and are at a completely different phase in their own lives.  

But really, our personal journey's are similar. At mid-life, many of us no longer grapple with 'who we are' and 'what we want to be', instead that perpetual search for 'ourselves' has crescendo-ed into a process of 'becoming' who we are meant to be.

My own journey isn't so much about 'who am I' anymore, as it is about 'who I am'.  It's about embracing all that is 'ME', and putting into motion all that I am. Age and wisdom are so very precious, and it's with these gifts that I feel able to fully embrace my life.  

Still, it's a challenge when there are young children, when we are a young family still building our dreams and finding our way.  The absence of time and the excess of stress are my enemies.

Over the years, my survival, and self-discovery has been fueled by art journaling. Writing my personal story through words and pictures has been an empowering experience.  Weaving together the artful threads of my life has given me so much courage, especially when I look back through my books and see the depth of my endurance.  

My journals have been a way of reflecting on my life and telling my story, if only to myself.

Everyone has a unique story and I wonder if it is at the mid-point in life, we find that our story must be examined?  How can we live fully and authentically in the second half of our lives if we can't reflect on the journey that has bought us to the point we're at today? 

When we examine our own lives, we connect to all the riches of the past, we honor all the sadness and adversity we've overcome, we grieve for the 'never to be' elements, and we are energized, ready to use our remaining years more wisely.

Art Journaling gives us permission to stop and listen to the story of our lives.  It puts meaning in our past, and gives us a compass for the times when we are stuck, incapacitated, and petrified. It also gives us images and icons for our achievements. It solidifies our glories, and validates our victories. 

The gift of artful expression belongs to everyone, and rich are those who embrace it.

This butterfly was done in Twinkling h2O's and ink.

Thanks for checking in. xx

Monday, April 14, 2014

The "Water Soluble" Series

Wow, what a big week last week.  Thank you so much to everyone who entered my "Watercolor Pencils" online workshop giveaway.  It was an exciting response and I am super excited for the class in September.

The four winners so far are:

Debbie Buchanan
Michelle Weatherson
Michele Oliver
Janine Parr Heifetz

All the winners have been contacted, but if you haven't emailed me yet, please do so to confirm your registration.

There are still 2 more places left to giveaway.  If you'd like to be in the running to win, you have all next week to link up to "Friday Sketches".  Click here to enter. I'll be announcing the two winners on Friday.

So, working in pencils all week had me yearning for my other water soluble medium as well.  Specifically my pastels.  I do a lot of work in these mediums and I especially love the water soluble wax pastels.  My brand of choice, of course is the Caran d'Ache Neocolor II's.  

These are luscious little cream sticks of brilliant, buttery color.  They're great for quick color studies, and like watercolor pencils, are easy to transport and are a must-have, no-mess tool in your sketch kit.

"Watercolor Pencils" is part of my larger offering called "The Water Soluble Series".  This is a series of online classes and workshops that explore water soluble mediums in all their glory.  "Watercolor Pencils" is the first, next up is "Pastel & Crayon".  

"Pastel & Crayon" will be exploring everything from water soluble wax pastels, soft pastels, pastel mediums, and all forms of water soluble crayons.

Although this, and the other classes in the series are still sometime away, I have been getting lots of questions about what will be included in the series.  So far, I have a line up of five classes, each focusing on a different water soluble medium.  

"Watercolor Pencils" is the only class available for registration as yet, but the others will be rolling out in the near future.

The line up of classes in "The Water Soluble Series" include:

"Pastel & Crayon"
"Paint & Pigment"
"Marker & Ink"
"Graphite & Charcoal"

Stay tuned for more information on these classes.  And if you'd like to know more about "Watercolor Pencils", or would like to take advantage of the early bird special currently available.  Please click here.

This sketchbook page of garlic was done using Caran d'Ache Neocolor II Water Soluble Wax Pastels and Sumi Ink.

Thanks for checking in. xx