The Coloring Studio

November 20, 2015

As December 1st draws ever closer, I find it more and more difficult to contain my excitement about Stampington’s new publication due on that date, The Coloring Studio. Not only is it exciting to contemplate how wonderfully the subject of adult coloring will be handled by the experts at Stampington, but I have the supreme honor of having a drawing chosen to be published within its pages!


I decided to celebrate by creating an art journal with my drawing, Complicated Cat, as the cover. All cats are complicated, of course – aren’t we all still trying to figure them out? One of my favorite recent comics by The Oatmeal pictures a cat saying, “I am just as confused by my mood swings as you are.”

My cat is also physically complicated, with lots of doodled patterns and feline-related quotes.

After coloring the drawing with Prismacolor pencils, I laminated it for durability, lined the edges with deco tape and added floral embellishments.

coloring cat art journal 1

The book is filled with mixed-media paper, ready to be used as my next art journal. It measures about 5″x7″.

coloring cat art journal 2

The Coloring Studio will be filled with unique images to color, plus tips from artists and ideas for using your completed masterpieces. Wouldn’t it make a great gift bundled with some gel pens or colored pencils?

New Faces

October 2, 2015

I’m still in the midst of my obsession with painting new faces on dolls. I say “painting,” but this is very much a mixed-media venture, as I use colored pencils, watercolor pencils, gel pens and pastels.

These two dolls started out as Monster High Clawdeen and Howleen, werewolf sisters. They’re still sisters, but without fangs, their werewolf traits are now reduced to that of cute little puppies.

In this photo, they’re plotting together the best way to steal all the pumpkin spice Eggo waffles and blame it on the cat.

clawdeen best buds

A New Obsession

September 28, 2015

So for the past month I’ve been taking an online class with the fabulously lovely and talented Jane “Danger” Davenport. “JOYnal” is all about creating a unique altered book in which we are drawing mermaids, fairies, elves and other creatures from our imaginations. It’s so much fun it should be illegal!

One of the huge highlights of the class is that we are also learning to create our own pose-able studio muses. Starting with a ball-jointed doll (such as Monster High or Ever After High), we’re removing the existing face paint and drawing our own unique faces. This was a bit of a daunting prospect at first, so I knew I would want lots of practice. I purchased a lot of seven used Monster High dolls from Ebay, scrubbed them up, fixed their hair and ordered them some inexpensive clothes.

My first two attempts were on Clawdeen, a werewolf, and Purrsephone (or possibly her twin sister, Meowlody), a zombie cat. Here’s what they looked like before I erased their factory-applied faces:

clawdeen before

zombie cats

And here they are after drawing my own! I made Meowlody (or is it Purrsephone?) much less like a fashion model and more like the cat she really is. Clawdeen still has wolf ears, but no fangs.

first two

Not bad for a first try, but I knew I could do better! I next tackled a Lagoona doll, who has webbed feet and gills, so I knew she’d be perfect to make into a mermaid.


I decided to make her eyes aqua to go with the streaks in her hair.

mermaid fairy face

Also, it wasn’t enough that she was a mermaid – I wanted her to have wings, too! My husband called her “a freak of nature,” but then I reminded him that mermaids and fairies don’t actually exist, so it’s entirely in the realm of impossibility that a fairy mermaid could also exist. (I think I hurt his brain.)

So yes, she has wings AND a tail! I colored a rubber stamped butterfly image, scanned and enlarged it, laminated it, bent it slightly and adhered it to her back with E6000 glue. I bought the tail from Ebay; it’s designed for Barbie, but fits Lagoona just fine. And because Stickles are an integral part of my life, I used them to draw a pretty design on her chest.

mermaid fairy

My next victim started life as Draculaura, a toothy-grinned gal with a sanguine personality.


Her bangs are supposed to be flat on her forehead, but my pre-loved Draculaura wears hers up like a Mohawk. No worries, it was still fun to draw her a new face! She is no longer in the business of sucking blood and now eats Cheetos and Diet Coke, just like the rest of us. (Please fail to notice she is slightly wall-eyed and instead concentrate on her super cute jumpsuit.)

former vampire

I think I am getting the hang of this! Once I’m more confident, I’ve got this incredible brand new doll to transform. She’s Apple White, daughter of Snow White, from the Ever After High series. I’ll probably give her wings, too! :)

apple white


September 8, 2015

I’d been hearing a lot about this book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, so I rented the audio book and finally got a chance to listen last week.

tidying book

It was quite absorbing! While the author has a few (ahem) strange ideas that definitely dip a toe into the realm of magic, I overall found her principles solid and I certainly could use a lot of help in the area of decluttering. She focuses on retaining only those things you love (those that “spark joy”) and discarding the rest, and suggests a specific order in which the discarding must occur for maximum effectiveness. You start with categories, not rooms or areas. For instance, one of the categories is books. Instead of going bookshelf by bookshelf, you gather ALL the books from ALL the rooms into a central location and go from there.

I was inspired to get started right away, and the author recommends starting with clothing. She said the average person, before decluttering, has 160 tops! I couldn’t believe I had that many, until I actually started gathering. I’m not a clothes freak by any means and until I lost a lot of weight a couple years ago, I would only buy clothes about once every two or three years. Conversely, however, I never got rid of any clothes! So there were many years’ worth, some I hadn’t looked at in a decade – in the master closet, in the guest room closet, taking up an entire dresser and hanging in the laundry room. I gathered everything onto the couch, and it filled the entire couch plus the back of the couch!

I divided everything into four piles: keep, give to charity, throw away, sell. The last category consists of very nice clothes that I’ll send to ThredUp, an online consignment store, so I’ll at least get a little bit of return on my investment. Ms. Kondo says it’s imperative not to worry about what things cost or that you’ll be “wasting” money by giving items away or throwing them away, and that’s a good mind-set to have. But consigning my nicer clothes does help me feel better about letting them go.


So I set to work at that big pile of clothing. After almost three hours, I had looked at and considered each item and kept only those I really love. I filled NINE tall kitchen trash bags with clothes to give away, two bags with clothes to sell and one bag with clothes to throw away (I tend to wear my indoor clothes to tatters!). When I’d started, there were less than ten empty hangers in the house. When I finished, there were 118! I now have enough room in one closet for all my clothes, plus I can now hang up all my jeans and there are two empty dresser drawers! The plan going forward is to buy only what I love, and it makes sense. I could have five “meh” shirts bought because they’re on sale – or I could have one incredible, beautiful and amazing shirt that I love for the same price. I thought it would be frightening to have significantly fewer clothes, but it feels just the opposite – like a burden has been lifted and that ALL my choices of what to wear are good ones. It’s so nice to look in both closets and see actual space!

So what did I keep? All the jeans that fit me (because I love them!); 28 blouses; 6 T-shirts, 6 pairs of shorts and 4 pairs of yoga pants for wearing indoors, all the bras that fit and all the socks that didn’t have holes in them (I own very few of each, so there wasn’t a need to cull them for excess). I didn’t get rid of any outerwear (coats, jackets, sweaters) because I don’t have many, nor did I cull any shoes, as I own fewer than 15 pairs – though I imagine that would be a bugaboo for some! :)

Next up will be the books. I’ve already started gathering them and look forward to paring them down in the next few days. My bookshelves are currently stacked two-deep and overflowing!

Publication Celebration!

August 31, 2015

A couple of months ago, my favorite publishing company, Stampington, put out a call for adult coloring pages, and I was just notified they have accepted one of my entries! (I knew there was a reason my clock radio was playing the song “Happy” when it woke me up for work yesterday!)

The Coloring Studio, a special publication that will feature pages to color, advice from coloring artists and ideas for using your finished artwork, is set to hit newsstands December 1st. With adult coloring being all the rage, this book and a set of colored pencils or gel pens would make a great holiday gift!

While I can’t show the artwork that was accepted (let’s just say it’s of a feline persuasion), I can share the second one I submitted, Nature Girl. Click to see it full size (8×10) and print out to color, if you like. I colored it twice, the first time using mostly greens and blues; the second time I went crazy with bold and bright and a widely expanded palette. Which one I like better pretty much depends on my mood at the time I view it.

nature girl

Many thanks to the inimitable Jane Davenport for teaching me (painlessly) how to draw a beautiful face! I couldn’t have done this without her and, until a few months ago, wouldn’t have even tried. I’m currently taking two on-line classes with Jane and they have been invaluable! (Thanks, Jane!)

It’s Never Too Early

August 15, 2015

I’ve been keeping a journal/diary/smash book for several years now, one per calendar year. They’re so interesting to look back on and remember what was going on in your life a year or two years or ten years ago. (And can be very helpful to prove to doubting spouses that you bought the “new” TV over five years ago! …I mean, for instance.)

In the past, I would use a commercially-made desk calendar/planner, but decided last year to make my own. I love it so, so much. I would save it in a house fire before I even considered those five bags of Cheetos Puffcorn in the kitchen cupboard. Last year Dude gave me a hard time for starting my 2015 smash book so early in 2014 (yes, it was May!). But as I told him, you have to strike while the iron’s hot, and I’ll probably be too busy later. At least I waited until July this year.

2016 smash book 6

Yes, there is glitter. Yes, there is lace. And washi tape. And a butterfly. I’ve been enamored of this particular butterfly image ever since I found a pair of wings that look exactly like these at a campground/marina in South Carolina last month on our way to New Hampshire.

2016 smash book 1

I couldn’t think of what to put in the space in the upper right, and finally decided on either the word “life” or the word “love.” Then thought, heck, why not both? It’ll be  good reminder to LOVE LIFE, ’cause I sure do!

I used four pages for each month, three of cardstock and one of which is from this beautiful 8″ paper pad from Graphic 45 called “Time to Flourish.” I found it while shopping on our trip and immediately knew it was perfect for my new smash book.

graphic 45 padEach month is represented by a double-sided patterned paper and a page with coordinating cut-outs that I can use throughout the year. I just love these!

I also did a beaded binding; rather an ambitious one! Since the book is so thick, I had room for two types of beads.

2016 smash book 2

Here’s a view of the inside front cover. I normally start my smash book with a New Year’s quote from Neil Gaiman, which will go on the left side once I decide which one I want to use.

2016 smash book 4

2016 smash book 5

I made the covers from an existing hardcover book published in 1969 called Julia Harrington. It’s full of pictorial advertisements from the 19th century and is supposed to be the diary of a girl who lived in Iowa (where I’m originally from). When you take off the lacy, flowery dust jacket, there’s a pretty picture of “Julia” and her name embossed in gold. (The gold keeps flaking off in little glittery showers, which I don’t mind at all.)

book cover

I used the front cover for the back cover of my book because I couldn’t bear to cover that pretty picture!

2016 smash book 3I am now officially ready for 2016 and all the adventures it is certain to bring!

More ATCs

August 11, 2015

I got another set of five ATCs done for a swap (see previous post); I am calling these “Dream Girls” as each has a quote about dreams. This card has a quote I saw recently and really like: “If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough.”

dream girl atc

I am so grateful to Jane Davenport and her amazing videos and online classes for giving me the confidence, the motivation and the technical knowledge necessary to begin learning to draw faces! I did all these in graphite; it’s my favorite medium (so far) because mistakes can be erased and it’s easy (and fun!) to add some shading just by rubbing with a finger. Graphite is probably the least expensive way to create art as well; all you need is a sheet of paper, a pencil and an eraser.

These ATCs were created on inexpensive drawing paper and then glued onto cardstock. The camera didn’t quite pick up the correct color of the paper, which is a pale beige. I prefer it to stark white for drawing; the results seem softer that way.

dream girl set

I am taking Jane’s online “Supplies Me” class in which we learn to use all those many art supplies we just HAD to have: markers, pastels, crayons, watercolors, etc. I am working my way VERY slowly through the lessons (I’ve only done colored pencils so far!) and continue to practice faces using graphite in order to become more confident with shading and get better at creating facial features. Jane is an excellent teacher (and who can resist her lovely Australian accent?), so if you’re interested in learning how to draw beautiful faces, you can’t go wrong with Jane. (Two months ago, I could barely draw a stick figure!)

ATC Frenzy

August 10, 2015

Last year I joined an ATC swap with Roni at the Ink Stains blog. We could make up to 30 cards each, so I did just that! Unfortunately my cards got lost in the mail and the swap went on without me. :( After a couple of weeks I got back my torn, empty envelope and a search request submitted to the post office turned up nada, zip, zilch. Hopefully someone who enjoys ATCs found them and they weren’t totally destroyed!

So with fingers crossed, I am joining Roni’s swap again and this time hoping for a better outcome. I’ve made 15 cards so far and hope to get another 15 done before it’s time to send them. We can make no more of five alike, so I’ve done five sets of similar cards. The first are called “Definition Birds.”

bird definition card

The backgrounds are Distress Inks, applied directly to the card and then squirted with water; an easy and fun technique. The bird images are by Artchix Studio and the definitions are from a sheet of pet-themed scrapbook paper.

bird definition set

The next set uses backgrounds made by “pouncing” Distress pads onto the paper and then squirting with water. A bit of a different look, and just as easy and fun. The images are again by Artchix Studio. I call this series “Signs of Spring.”

signs of spring card

(Shhh…don’t tell anyone, but the red eyes on those birds are kind of creeping me out!) I added mulberry paper, lace and some little flowers to each card.

signs of spring set

And finally, art I drew myself! These mermaids are done with colored pencil, ink and chalks.

mermaid card

I’m currently working on another hand-drawn set, this time in graphite; hopefully I’ll get five of them done before the deadline. I LOVE ATCS!

mermaid set

The Final Challenge!

August 7, 2015

It is with more than a bit of sadness that I post my very last project for the very last Compendium of Curiosities challenge. It has been so much fun to take part in these challenges, get inspiration from the Curiosity Crew and see how other artists interpret the techniques. Linda has been an amazing hostess and I’ve had a great time getting to “know” the talented gals who inspire us with their beautiful projects. Oftimes these challenges were just the kick in the pants I needed when the muse had fled and I was feeling less than creative. I will miss them so much!

Clearly, Tim Holtz needs to write another book ASAP so we can do it all again. :)

This, the very last challenge, is sponsored by the Funkie Junkie Boutique, and all you have to do to win a great prize is create something using the Monoprint Stencil technique, as shown on page 48 in Compendium of Curiosities III. This was a fun and easy technique; once I got the right amount of water in the second step – that part was a bit tricky! Fortunately I have many, many blank tags, and as they are tough little guys, you can add layers or paint over “mistakes” and still have something great to show for your efforts.

I used Tim’s Burlap stencil for this challenge, along with Distress Inks in Spiced Marmalade, Picked Raspberry, Mermaid Lagoon, Shabby Shutters and Fossilized Amber. I only just bought the Fossilized Amber while on a road trip to New Hampshire last week, so it was great to have a reason to try it out right away! I picked the two tags that came out the best, glued them to a chipboard backing and used them as the cover for a little book.

On our way to New Hampshire, we stayed one night at a lovely, rustic campground/marina in South Carolina, where I gathered lots of natural souvenirs: shells, feathers, pine cones, flowers, and my favorite find: the wings of a butterfly that look almost exactly like this one.

butterfly tag book 1

I’ve been enamored with beaded bindings ever since I tried my first one a few months ago, and the butterfly beads fit really well on this little book. I used two colors of velvet ribbon for the binding to coordinate with the tags and filled it with patterned papers from K&Company (this line is called Abrianna).

butterfly tag book 2

butterfly tag book 3

Every time I look at the butterfly on the cover, I’m reminded of that beautiful marina in South Carolina, with its blue skies, scented pines, inviting lake and warm breeze. I think this book will be perfect to showcase photos from our trip!

Thank you, Linda, and thank you, Curiosity Crew, for your friendly encouragement and inspiration these past few months. I have enjoyed every moment!

butterfly tag book 4

Compendium of Curiosities Challenge #33

July 21, 2015

Amazingly, this is the second-to-last challenge from Tim Holtz’s Compendium of Curiosities, Volume 3, and I will miss them so much! The lovely and talented Linda Ledbetter is our hostess for these challenges and has done an AMAAAAAZING job coordinating the projects and the equally lovely and talented “Curiosity Crew” of artists to inspire us. Great job, all of you!

We are turning to page 45 in our Compendiums and discovering the Altered Surfaces technique. This involves using the heat gun, and Tim specifically warns against using it for too long on plastic surfaces, lest they melt. So naturally, one of my plastic surfaces melted. It’s okay, though – I was able to twist it back into shape and it’s not even that noticeable! (Note: Please pretend not to notice.)

I had to hurry to get something done for this challenge, as we will be traveling for ten days starting tomorrow. Coincidentally, I hadn’t yet made a travel log for our trip, so that seemed like the perfect project! Dude and I always bring a travel log on our trips, into which we take turns writing entries about our adventures. (Mine are always like, “Hooray, we saw the world’s biggest ball of twine and it was awesome and I took a million pictures and can’t wait to get to the next city tomorrow morning!” whereas his lean towards, “Gas was $2.75 per gallon.”)

I started with a plain composition book and covered it with torn scrapbook papers. I did the “Altered Surfaces” technique on Tim’s plastic letters, using Mermaid Lagoon, Cracked Pistachio and Worn Lipstick Distress Paints. Fun! (And a little scary when the “S” melted).

travel journal letters

I used matching Distress inks, along with Wild Honey, to color the scrapbook papers, a stamped Tim compass, and a motor home die cut. I also stamped Tim’s flight of birds and added two Philosophy tags with tiny brads. Added a bit of black & white checkered ribbon and called it done!

travel journal

There is plenty of time to join in this challenge and oh-so-tempting prizes to be won! The sponsor is Inspiration Emporium, who are offering a very generous gift certificate to one lucky winner, and yet another will win a lovely box of Tim Holtz products – you certainly can’t beat that!

Bon Voyage!


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