Friday, March 30, 2012

A Passion for Wisdom

After many months of preparation and anticipation, 21 Secrets, finally kicks off this weekend. 21 Secrets is described as An Art Journal Playground.  My program, Wisdom Circles, is about creating deeply personal and symbolic mandalas through myth, insight, and visualization. It's an art journaling practice that has saved me on more than one occasion, and even now whenever I feel overwhelmed or creatively lost, I make mandalas.  Take a look at my little promo video:

I was so fortunate when Connie from Dirty Footprints Studio contacted me and asked if I would like to be a teacher on this wonderful program. But I must admit, I wasn't sure if I was good enough for it. I was a little nervous because there are some incredible teachers, many I only know through books, blogs, and reputation. But I had loads of encouragement, and in keeping with the philosophy of Connie's program, I let my heart and passion lead the way.

Over the past month, all the teachers have been gathering their program materials onto the class website. I've been fortunate enough to get a sneak peak into many of the workshops and I am astounded.  The variety and quality of workshops has to be seen to be believed. Every class has it's own page filled with instruction, videos, and pdf's.  Some of the art journaling secrets being shared are terrific, and as a teacher, I get to take the other classes.  I'm so excited about all the new art journaling techniques I'm going to learn.

21 Secrets runs from 1st April 2012, to 1st January 2013.  Participants have unlimited access to all 21 workshops for the entire time.  It's incredible value for money at only $59.  There really is nothing else like it around. So if you're an art journaling veteran, or new to the game, I can't encourage you enough to check out this beautiful program by clicking here.


Throughout Wisdom Circles, I'll show you some wonderful products, and of course I've included my very favorites from Luminarte--Twinkling H20's and Silks Acrylic Glaze. You'll get some insight into these exquisitely shimmery, beautiful paints.

This journal page is a mandala I created for very personal reasons. My secrets are woven into its symbols and colors. The background was done using Silks and another wonderful product called Radiant Rain Shimmering Mist.  It's a liquid hybrid of shimmer and pigment that you spray on and it's available through Creative Imaginations.

The mandala was done using Angora Watercolors, India ink and gold gel pen. The depth and translucence of the Silks background gives the page a very 3D effect.  I'll give you a glimpse into this technique during Wisdom CirclesAnd if you want to take your shimmering passion one step further, you can sign up for my online classes Mastering Twinks and A Taste of Silks. I hope you'll join me.

Thanks for checking in xx

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Mid-Western Spring

It's easy to forget in this day and age, just how big this planet really is.  Technology and connectivity make it so easy to think that everyone is just around the corner.  But long-haul international travel soon brings that much needed, but unwanted dose of reality.

We're home now after a very long, safe, and relatively uneventful transit from the sunny shores of Australia to the blossoming vastness of the mid-west USA.  It's funny how that feeling of having never left quickly descends over our excitement. I am so very happy to see that spring has well and truly settled her gaze on this part of the world.  Gardens and trees are ablaze with blooms, the air is filled with the aroma of freshness, and the birds, squirrels, and rabbits are as feisty and romantic as one one would expect.  All, a small comfort for a simple Aussie girl still wiping tears of goodbye from her eyes.

It was so amazing to see the faces of the people I love.  Sadly, and of course, I didn't get to see everyone I wanted to see, nor did I get to spend the time I had hoped to spend with those I did see. But it was a trip filled with milestones, memories, and love.

Now it's back to business.  There are only two weeks left until the start of my Mastering Twinks online class through Luminarte, and I am very excited to announce that I will be giving away two spots on this class over the coming weeks.  Stay tuned for details coming next week.

Also, the beautiful 21 Secrets Art Journaling program through Dirty Footprint Studio finally kicks off this weekend.  There has been lots of buzz and excitement as the 21 fabulous teachers have been working feverishly on their programs.  As one of these teachers, I've been able to get a sneak peak into some of the workshops and I must say, they are AMAZING.  If you haven't signed up yet, do yourself a favor and click here.  21 teachers, 21 classes, unlimited access for 10 full months...and the best part????  $59 for the lot.

Finally, I'm excited to announce that I've been invited by Luminarte to run an exclusive online class called A Taste of Silks.  Silks are a new product from color genius Leslie Ohnstad.  They are an exquisite liquid acrylic glaze that shimmers and sparkles just like Twinkling H2O's.  Their versatility and personality have to be seen to be believed.  In this class, I'll be showing you some wonderful techniques and projects for using them along with other mixed media.  Registration for this 2-lesson class opens on April 3.  For more information click here.

So, this sketchbook page was done while I was sitting on the beach one morning in Australia.  The foreshore was filled with these gorgeous little purple flowers.  They were so tiny they were like drops of purple dew on a carpet of green.  Ironically, they looked exactly like the carpet of purple Creeping Charlie that is currently blanketing our lawn here at home.

So I thought it was an appropriate page to share with you today, kind of like the bridge between the two end points of my journey.

Thank for checking in. xx

Monday, March 26, 2012

Farewell Australia

Our glorious month long vacation in Australia is drawing to a close, in a few hours we'll be boarding our flight back to the US.  I'll have loads more journal pages and sketches to show you over the coming weeks, but for now I want to leave you with this page filled with more beach treasures.

Some of my fondest memories from this trip will be of our quiet evening walks along the beach, exploring the rock pools, building sand castles and moats, and digging our toes in the sand.  We have deposited quite the collection of sea glass and shells on my mothers back porch.


I want to thank all my wonderful family and friends in Australia who wrapped us up in love and happiness, and helped our children explore the joys of this great southern land. Please wish us safe travels.

 Thanks for checking in. xx

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Chinese Lantern

Autumn has begun to make her grand entrance across the Southern Hemisphere. Or at least that's what the calendar tells us.  That's the thing I love about Australia, her landscapes are so vast and contrasting that the seasons don't show themselves in the same way they do in in North America. Gum trees don't turn, they're evergreen, and gardens never stop blooming here, they just slow down.

Since I arrived in Australia I've snapped hundreds of photo's of flowers, trees, and landscapes, expecting them to change, but they don't. When the blooms die-off, new ones replace them, and since the drought has broken, the rate of growth is staggering. Both my mother and my sister are brilliant gardeners, and their homes are ablaze with pots and shrubs spilling over with color.  I've taken enough photo's to keep my sketchbook pages blooming for months.

We've had an amazing time, its been almost a month and our departure is fast approaching.  I'm not going to start my good-bye's just yet, as I am clinging to the last few days of my Aussie adventure. Yesterday was a highlight and for those of you with young children, you'll know what I mean when I say we had a Wiggly good time.  It was topped off by a beautiful date night with my husband.  Grandma and Auntie Ree babysat the kids, and for the first time in almost 7 years, hubby and I had a romantic dinner for two, listened to some live music, drank WAY too much wine, and staggered home arm-in arm. It was perfect!

So, the flower on this page is called a Chinese Lantern (I think).  The bush sits outside the kitchen window in my mothers sunny little courtyard and is literally dripping with these brilliant red flowers.  They hang down just like a lantern, hence their name. I've so enjoyed my moments in her courtyard, peaceful, relaxing, and memorable.

Thanks for checking in. xx

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Waves of Creativity

Inspiration, like anything, can sometimes wax and wane.  There are times in my art journey where I am overwhelmed with inspiration for journal pages, classes, or art pieces, then there are times when I simply have nothing.  Trying to be true to my style, even when I feel squashed by insecurity and tiredness, is paramount to my journey.  To create art of any kind is like exposing a deeply personal part of ourselves for the world to see, and thanks to the internet, for the world to pass judgement on. It's not always easy!

Taking time out from my class preparation and the like this past few weeks, I've found myself creating art for art sake.  Of course, it's also given me space to think about this journey I am on and where I hope it will lead.  But, I made a decision a long time ago to base everything I do on authenticity. It has got to be fun, exciting, and energizing or I simply can't do it.

This art journey of mine started with a genuine desire to learn, grow, and share my creative expression. But like anything, there are times when it's not always smooth sailing so to speak.  Finding balance, maintaining priorities, and pushing forward, all at the same time sometimes seems overwhelming.

As I look around and my art community and followers I see so much talent, so much inspiration.  Sometimes I feel crippled by my own lack of talent or originality, or I feel intimidated by other teachers and other students. But there are times when I feel so grateful for the support and encouragement I receive, so thrilled by a picture that has turned out better than I expected.  But art is who I am, it is what is inside me, and its what I will always do.

As I have journeyed in Australia, I've been able to think a lot about where I am going and what I am doing. I've sat in gardens with my sketchbook, on trains, beside lakes, and on the beach.  What has evolved hasn't always been pretty, or easy, or inspiring, but its been fulfilling.  For every page I photograph and post about here, there are 5 pages that I don't show.

This page was done as I sat watching the rolling surf on one of Australia's many spectacular beaches this past week.  I felt overwhelmed with a desire to capture the beauty of the scene, but paralyzed by my inability to capture it realistically.  These are the times when I usually put my book away with the resignation of defeat.  But not this time. This time I decided to focus on the colors instead of the form.  I allowed myself to plunge into the energy of the scene around me, the pounding waves, the glistening sun on the warm sand, the movement of the water, the rumble of the spray in the wind.

I look at this page now and I see and feel exactly that moment on the beach.  Isn't that what art journaling and sketchbooks are all about?

Thanks for checking in xx

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Twinkling Lotus Flowers

Traveling with children is a double edged sword, but traveling with a special needs child can be like running a gauntlet.  It really has been a joyful trip down under so far, and this week we took a little road trip to take in some of Australia's best views.  We had all these grand intentions of making our way north along the east coast of Australia to visit some more of my friends and family.  But, after only two days, it became clear that we would have a lot more fun if we just found a lovely spot and stayed there for a few days.

Both my kids are great car travelers, and the long drives were better than we expected.  In fact, even the stops for lunch, the walks, and the hotels were great. But when you're a complex little bloke like Thomas, the many changes, and the unfamiliar surroundings show themselves in unexpected ways.

As many of you will already know, my little T has had some challenges learning to eat.  Food is not something he enjoys, probably because of his years of ventilators and oxygen cannulas.  He has done really well on this trip, but we have seen a steady decline in his willingness to consume food.

It is obvious to us that he does much better when in a routine, and in familiar surroundings (don't all kids). So staying put just made sense. It's been a serendipity really, as we were able to enjoy less car time and more pool and beach fun.  But the sad part is, I won't get to see many of my friends and family who are spread out across Australia.  I'll have to save you all for our next trip, and remember we LOVE visitors in the US.

So, after a few days out, we made our way back to Grandma's house and will be spending our final week in Australia here.  Autumn is slowly descending on the Southern Hemisphere and our beach days are numbered, but our wonderful vacation is not over till the fat lady to speak!

In the meantime, it's back to my sketchbook. I have so many pages to share, and this is one I did last week while sitting in my mum's back yard. She's a wonderful gardener (something I did not inherit), I'm not really sure what they are, but they looked a bit like lotus flowers.  Either way, they called out for Twinkling H2O's. And given my "Mastering Twinks" class begins again on April 13 through LuminArte, I'm immersing myself once more in these exquisite, shimmering watercolor paints. It feels like home!!  Registration is now open, and you can click here for more information.

Thanks for checking in. xx

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Ocean Blue

For me, the single most compelling draw to my homeland of Australia is the ocean.  The sparkling, blue, rolling ocean is my personal source of energy.  There is something in the salty sea air and the constant moving tides that bring my senses alive. It's a spiritual life-source for me, and a biological one for so many creatures.

Did you know that given Australia's age and predominantly dry climate, the coastal waters surrounding it are very low in nutrients? This means that even though Australia has the third-largest fishing area in the world, the fishing industry ranks 51st in the number of fish they catch.  Yet, because of this nutrient structure and vastness of ocean area, Australia yields some of the highest quality seafood in the world.

Australia's oceans are also affected by severe and extreme ocean weather phenomenon. Tropical cyclones or hurricanes in the north, to some of the roughest weather in the world south of the Island of Tasmania. It's probably why there are more than 6000 shipwrecks beneath the seas around Australia--a scuba-divers dream.

It's no secret that Australians are a nation of beach and sea lovers--it's a part of our everyday  lives.  Swimming is a national sport, as is lifesaving, surfing and sailing. Percentage-wise, we have one of the highest boat-owning and recreational fishing populations in the world.

It is also home to one of the worlds most remarkable and breathtaking gifts; the Great Barrier Reef. The largest coral reef in the world, with an abundance of marine life, the Barrier Reef is made up of over 3000 individual reef systems and hundreds of tropical islands. It is larger than the Great Wall of China and the only living thing on earth visible from space.

It's also a fact that Australia has the most beautiful, sun-soaked, golden beaches in the world. If there is ever a place where my spirit comes to rest, where the depth of my very being is truly at home, it is beside the sea.

Now I'm off to the beach...thanks for checking in.  xx