Friday, April 26, 2013

Symbiosis Metamorphosis or Time to Fly

Recently I took a three week course on transitions. A wealth of information was shared in the class. We learned about our strengths, why we do what we do, and how best to match our uniqueness to responsibilities.

I created my Symbiosis Metamorphosis journal as a way to visually sort all of the valuable information that was causing my "little gray cells" to implode.
The butterfly ephemera is from 1965, by the National Wildlife foundation.
Amber stain from old tape adds charm.

This journal section shows a butterfly resting on a decaying pear. Death and re-birth. Symbols of change and future possibilities. Could it be that this butterfly gathers nourishment prior to flight? I think that it is curious that this image is paired with the image of the fragile girl. Displaying the feminine icon with a postmark of Paris symbolize my own personal change and future possibilities.

Within the center of my journal is a "Love to Do" page. The image of the woman on lime green painted paper symbolizes my constant brain activity. Breaks slow down my thinking. My favorite break is to beat Sensi in Yahtzee. Another favorite retreat is to fill in squares on crosswords. Sometimes it takes me a whole week to complete a New York Times Sunday crossword puzzle. I also love to chat with friends over coffee, read and look at the stars.
Hans Christian Anderson wisely noticed, "Just living is not enough, said the butterfly, One must have sunshine, freedom and a little flower."
Now, go nibble on life's pear and then go fly!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Digital Encouragement

The other day I received an email notification that my sketchbook, Japanese Family Crests, was viewed by someone in Dallas, Texas. I hope that my drawings and written encouragements uplifted the soul of my Texas viewer.  I mentioned in my last post that my hope was that the person who checks out my sketchbook will be able to stand firmer and move forward through life's challenges. Did you receive strength? Like the bamboo may you gain resiliency.

Now, go check out my digitized Japanese Family Crests journal at the Sketchbook Project 2013!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Sketchbook Project 2013

Desiring to leave a tiny footprint in the art world, I recently mailed an art journal full of my meanderings to Brooklyn, New York. My contribution is part of Sketchbook Project 2013. It is a traveling library of thousands of artists' journals.  My sketchbook will be digitized and archived permanently to the collection at the Brooklyn Art Library. In addition it will be exhibited across Canada and the United States with a traveling exhibit. 

Pages within my sketchbook are filled with ink drawings of Japanese Crest Designs. Around the circular designs I added brush strokes of titan buff paint tinted with burnt umber to add depth. On top of the painted portions are hand-lettered  words of hope and encouragement.

Japanese family crest designs can be tracked to as far back as the eleventh century. Each design represented a family symbol to be worn on costumes and possessions. Often the crest could be found printed on a fabric piece on the center of the back, one on the back of each sleeve and on both sides of the front of the garment.

I think by drawing these symbols it helped me to strengthen my own resolve to my marriage and to my children. Together we have faced many challenges over the last few months, and there may be some courageous steps upcoming in the future. We are a brave bunch. Like the bamboo in some of the crest designs, we may get gleaned yet we grow back. In our family mission statement it says, "...We believe that disability is a gift. We depend on the grace of God. WE ARE RESILIENT."

Here a few of the gems of encouragement written in my sketchbook:

"Whatever you do, you have one thing that's unique, you have the ability to make art. And for me and so many people that I've know that's been a life saver. It gets you through the good times, and it gets you through the other times. Sometimes life is hard. Things go life... and in love, and in business, and in friendship, and in health...and when things get tough this is what you should do - ART - make good art... do what only you can good art."  Neil Gainan

"Be strong and courageous and do it. Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed, for the Lord God is with you. God will not leave you or forsake you."
I Chronicles 28:20

Wouldn't it be wonderful if some day, someone, randomly checks out my sketchbook and receives just the right amount of encouragement to stand firmly on their feet to move bravely forward in life? I pray that this may happen. 

Now, be brave and move!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Tree Glory

"There is a harmony in autumn, and a luster in its sky,
which through the summer is not heard or seen,
 as if it could not be, as if it had not been!"
Percy Bysshe Shelley

Are your eyes inspired by the vivid contrast between fall leaves and stark dark limbs? 
This oil pastel etching is my attempt to capture the glory of autumn. Vibrant yellows, oranges and reds greet me roadside each day. The colors revive my soul on overcast days. I treasure this fleeting visual treat.

At one moment the glory of trees in autumn. Then the blustery wind starts and these beautiful glowing embers of color are blown out.  Whirled to the ground.

"The Autumn wind is a raider, pillaging just for fun", Steve Sabol.

You can find a tutorial for this technique at,

Now, go fill your eyes with Fall beauty before the wind starts a blowin'!

Monday, October 22, 2012


While reading through the Arts and Life Section of the Seattle Times I pleasantly discovered a feature on Robin Crookall. She is an amazingly talented dimensional artist originating out of Bellingham. In fact, I often think of her in the Fall. Once she left a tender message to my son designed all out of flaming red lacy maple leaves. She is so creative. It gave me joy to see her newest exhibit featured in the Times. She photographs objects that she has manipulated from cardboard and paper. One of her latest is, "Whale Skeleton on Staircase". It's awesome. She has placed it on a grand staircase in just the right position to show off the detail of her design.

Sunday's paper also did a feature on Rhonda Scott's Friday Harbor shop, Vital Elements. I know Rhonda from ArtFest days. She makes beautiful handcrafted jewelry. Somerset Studio magazine has featured some of her mixed-media pieces on their cover. to my two creative friends. So...poop to me. When am I going to get a feature story in the Seattle Times?

Now, go tell your writer friends about my paintings. Pretty please.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Secret Notes of Encouragement

Why God invented shovels note

One day last week the phone rang connecting me to unexpected blessing. The voice on the other end of the call was a dear friend that I had been secretly encouraging for several months.

She said, "Do you have a tea bag? I've got a thermos of hot water.  Be ready at 2:00. I'll pick you up".

We sipped tea from vintage china cups, at a sunny lakeside park, on a perfect Autumn day. A bouquet of pink blooms and verbena graced the rough wooden picnic table.  Marcy brought our table setting in a wicker bicycle basket. We laughed, shared our hearts, and put together the mystery of the "secret notes". 

Marcy began receiving secret notes last June. I had been stealthily delivering messages of encouragement to my friend at her store, Garden Spot.  Arty notes with fun garden quotes. Some messages were for the intent of inspiring and strengthening her heart. Little pieces of cheer-ups. Positive quotes to help her heart heal and have hope.

Each note was made by layering ephemera on to a base of ledger paper. I then tore eye-catching pictures from garden magazines. These images are placed to bring a visual point of interest. I continued to play with small pieces of color and curiosities until I found just the right balance. The quirkier the better. Then I hand lettered an interesting garden quote. At the bottom I always added xoxo (not wanting to reveal my true identity). 

Always bring your sunshine (Marcy's Garden Spot is in Sunnyland)

Little did I know how my own heart would encounter devastation at the beginning of August. I felt vulnerable and exposed. My response was to pull my blankie over my head and withdraw. My resolve to keep delivering Marcy's secret notes kept me going. I pushed myself to create an arty paper, drive down to the Garden Spot, cheerfully threatened the staff to sworn secrecy, and then slink back into despondency as I drove home. 

I love this quote, “When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.”

My dear friend did not know that our family had encountered a major life transition. I never expected anything in return for all those special deliveries to Marcy. God knew my heart. Marcy's beautiful act of kindness was exactly what my own healing heart really, really needed. 

Now, go encourage a desperate heart!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Under Wildwood

To Mrs. Happy Holladay from Colin and Carson

Yesterday I shared some of my paintings with Colin Meloy and Carson Ellis of Wildwood fame. My painting were inspired by their first book, Wildwood. We met at a University of Washington Bookstore author event. Carson and Colin  have created what I think is a highly regarded classic children's book series.  I love the illustrations. I love the story.

As a child I spent hours playing in the forest. Flora, fauna and imagination brought hours of fun. The Wildwood books tap into how imagination can weave a fascinating adventure for children of all ages. Walks through the forest change after finishing a Wildwood story. There is almost a creative expectation that the coyote militia will step forward from a huckleberry bush to check your clearance ID. A bird resting on the next branch may want to have a chat. Our neighborhood forests sparkle with fun possibilities. 

Carson and Colin were inspired by Portland's 5,000-acre Forest Park. Their own personal walks became the inspiration for many of the magically written events within the Wildwood books.  

Talent oozes from this dynamic couple. It is not only talent that has propelled this couple to the children's literature limelight. They shared with me how diligently they work. Balancing the parenting of their small child, they alternate times within each of their studios. Carson spends hours refining her original pencil sketches into nib pen and ink wash delights. Then she takes her turn parenting while Colin retreats to his studio for hours of writing and revision. He especially enjoyed writing the mole dialog in Under Wildwood.

I am looking forward to reading the fun dialog in their latest book. Of course, my eyes will shine with delight as I pour over the fine detail of the underground mole mega-settlement.

Now, go get this book and start reading!