Creative Lettering

11/19/2009 03:47:00 PM Posted In , , Edit This 6 Comments »
I recently signed up for an on-line class taught by Nicolette Anderson.  The class was organized through Artists of the Round Table, an on-line art group I belong to.  I've wanted to learn how to do calligraphy for many years, but the problem is, I'm left-handed.  I know, I know ..... some of the best calligraphers are lefties.  But - here's the thing.  Every book I've either bought or just picked up and read pertaining to left-handed calligraphy says pretty much the same thing.  You have to put your paper in a really odd position (some even said upside down!), in order to keep from dragging your hand over the letters as you make them.  I'm not a leftie who does that keep-your-hand-above-your-writing thing by crabbing your hand all around.  (My sister, Maryanne, did that, and it always looked so painful to me). 

So, when this class came up, I decided I'd give it a go.  Here's what I decided:  I would learn how to do it with my right hand!  It just seems to me that if I want to do it at all, it's going to take some major brain work getting accustomed to working in a whole new way.   So, since that was going to be the case, why not just learn how to do it with my right hand?  Of course, this may just be one of those hairpin ideas you get in the middle of the night, but what the heck - if it works I'm ecstatic, if not, well, I will probably have plucked out all my hair in frustration, but then think of all the money I'll save on haircuts ..... enough to buy some more of those calligraphy for lefties books!

The first assignment was to print a standard basic alphabet, then do 4 more that we modified in some way.  There's a couple of mistakes that I just crossed out (I had already done them several times and didn't want to start them all over again), but all in all, for my first right-handed try, I feel pretty OK with them.  So, here they are:

The Waiting Room

11/16/2009 01:56:00 PM Posted In , Edit This 9 Comments »
Today I had to go  have some blood drawn for a physical I'm having next month.  I went early since it was a fasting draw and I was pretty hungry.  As some of you know, I live in the country, and my entire drive (except for the last couple of miles)is on 2 lane roads to get to the lab.  As I was motoring along, I had to stop for a number of school buses while they loaded up.  I never mind doing that because I love to see the children as they wait and then march themselves into the big bus.  My favorite is when there's a parent or two to see them off.  I got to see that little exchange on my way .. the quick little hug, then the little waves as the bus drives off.  It brings back many fond memories for me.
Anyhow, I found myself directly behind 2 school buses at one point, and after the children were on the bus, both of them pulled into the left lane and drove around something which I couldn't see.  After the second one got in the other lane, I could see about 7 or 8 wild turkeys standing in my lane, right in front of my car.  Usually they stand for a moment before they continue on across the road...... not this time!  The one Tom in the group (with his tail feathers all spread out and his chest all puffed up) kept all the ladies waiting.  When I tooted my horn gently to urge them in one direction or another, the whole group just turned and faced my car, staring at me for a moment or two before Tom herded them safely across the road to the other side.  By the time I could go again, there were 11 cars patiently waiting behind me.  The funny thing is that when I came back home a couple of hours later, they were all still in the driveway of the house where I last saw them!
The clinic was crowded (as usual on a Monday AM) and I had to wait quite awhile before it was my turn.  I always have a little sketch book with me that I use almost exclusively in waiting rooms.  The only problem with it is that the paper is thin so you can see the shadow of the drawing on the back of the page peeking through.  I don't mind it, but it does sort of mess up the scans.  Oh well, c'est la vie!

The Slump

11/06/2009 09:11:00 PM Posted In , , Edit This 5 Comments »
Well, I don't know why, but it's official ..... I'm definitely in a slump.  I did the sketch that I put in my last post with the intention of making a painting using it, but for some reason I find I just can't do it.  I don't know if it's lack of confidence, fear, laziness, a block .... who knows?  Anyhow, in an attempt to get on with something, I decided to start making some Christmas ornaments. 
Every year for a number of years, I've made handmade ornaments for my nieces.  Of course, every year has to be something different than I've done in the past, so this year I decided to make some tiny stuffed animals.  When my grandson CC was born, I made him a mobile for his room.  I made 5 tiny stuffed animals:  a lion with a huge mane, an elephant, a pig, a duck, and a panda.  But before that, before he was even born, but we were eagerly awaiting his arrival, I made a tiny rabbit for his first Christmas ornament.  Because I've had a bit of experience making them, I decided that in my current state of affairs, I would make a couple more of them.  I started with the rabbit.  I think the second one might be an elephant - I love elephants.  In this way I can at least be creating something without all the anxiety (or whatever label fits my current state), and maybe work my way up to painting and/or drawing again.  So, without further adieu, here is the bunny!

Preliminary sketch

11/03/2009 07:55:00 PM Posted In , , Edit This 3 Comments »

On Tuesdays I volunteer at the county health department all day, so I don't have very much time for art.  I recently took some photos of various parts of our yard, and I'm planning on trying my hand at acrylics again.  In the meantime, I did a quick preliminary sketch of one of them using pastels.  It's not very good, but it does give me some ideas as to what I want to include and what I want to eliminate.  So, in the spirit of trying really hard to do one piece of "art" each day, here it is, roughness, mistakes, and all!  See you tomorrow. 

The Garden Gnome and Habits

11/01/2009 07:52:00 PM Posted In , , Edit This 7 Comments »
Well, I got some really cute pictures of CC in his costume from his dad, Ben (our son), and because I'm a bit squeemish about posting CC's picture on the internet, I'm posting one where you can see part, but not all of him.  Even though you can't see his face in this picture, I think he looks just like a Gnome happened upon by a giant (the giant being Ben in his "early 1900s" costume).  So, without further adieu, here they are!

You can see a bit of his beard in this one, his furry boots, hat and belt, but not the little pouch on the front for holding his gold pieces .... or whatever it is that
 Gnomes carry in their pouches!

Today is November 1, and I'm going to try really hard to get back to my habit of completing a piece every day.    I did well for a very long time, then just fell off the wagon.  I find myself falling off wagons with some regularity.  Let's see, I've fallen off the meditation wagon, the exercise wagon, the clean-one-room-a-day wagon, and the complete-a- piece-of-work-a-day wagon, just to name a few.  I find that if I put a teensy sticker on the wall calendar in my studio each time I do the thing I'm trying to accomplish, for some weird reason, it helps keep me motivated to keep going.  May calendar is singularly devoid of stickers, and has been that way for far too long.  So, back to stickers and art.  For today I did a modest page in my journal.  I was pretty pooped after having mowed the lawn (about 2 acres), discovered that our spare refrigerator died so I had to save what food I could, toss the rest, clean it out, and cook dinner.  My sweetie was working hard too, so we're both a tad washed out.  Since I couldn't very well punk out the very first day of my new resolution, I allowed myself to keep it simple.  See you soon!  

Garden Gnome and Give-away Winner

10/26/2009 05:09:00 PM Posted In , Edit This 7 Comments »
Today I went to Frankenmuth, Michigan with some lovely friends of mine.  One was a delightful woman I met today - she's a friend of one of the other ladies I went with and is a most interesting world traveler.  For those of you who've never heard of Frankenmuth, it's a small town that specializes in everything Bavarian and Christmas.  There is a world-famous gigantic store there called Bronner's that's open almost everyday of the year.  They close on Christmas day, and there may be 1 or 2 other days of the year, but for the most part, they're open every single day.  Busloads of tourists and shoppers arrive there daily from all over.  Frankenmuth is also famous for its chicken dinners (which we did not eat ... we were too busy shopping).
So, I went with 2 things in mind (other than having a really nice time, that is) which were:  1.  Find a Christmas stocking for CC (our toddler grandson), who will be here for Christmas this year from Nashville, and 2.  Find him a Gnome Christmas ornament to commemorate his Halloween costume.  Well, happily I was able to get both things!  I also found some cute ornaments for our sons and their wives.   I had a 15% off coupon which I thought entitled me to 15% off the price of one item, but I was wrong.  It was for 15% off my entire order!!!!  Yippee!!!
When we left Bronner's, we went to a discount shopping mall called Birch Run, where I found some stocking stuffers in a kitchen shop, dog cookies made in the dog cookie bakery, a hand blender (which I've been wanting for a long time to use when I make cream soups) and a new pair of shoes!
We ate at a restaurant called Uno - I guess it's a chain, but I'd never heard of it before.  The food was good (and I have enough left to take to work with me for lunch tomorrow), and the company was even better.   All in all, it was a splendid time!
Now, for the winner of the 2 books:  (Pretend you hear a drum roll, please)..... the winner is funkycrafter!!  I've emailed fc, and will send the books off asap when I have an address.  In the event I don't get a response, I'll move to the next person generated by the  on-line random number  thingy I used.  So, funkycrafter, email me asap!! 
Here's a picture of CC's gnome.  See ya later!

Autumn Reverie

10/25/2009 04:00:00 PM Posted In , Edit This 11 Comments »
Autumn is my very favorite season.  It's such a treat for all of my senses.  The muted, subtle color changes of some of the leaves, and the bright, gaudy colors of some of the others dazzle my eyes and make me want to draw and paint them.  The scent of apple cider, the smell of burning leaves, and the wonderful aromas of fall dishes like stew and hot, creamy soups, and fruit pies,  put me in the mood for cooking and baking.  The sound of dry leaves blowing when the cold, autumn winds come through, and the crunch the leaves make when you walk through them makes me smile and drag my feet as I walk.  I love the cozy feel of sweaters and quilts.  We've started having fires in the fireplace, and I love the ritual of laying the logs and kindling ahead of time so that when it gets dark (or sometimes even in the afternoon), all we have to do is light a match.  I find watching the flames mesmerizing and soothing.   Sometimes we eat dinner by the fire - I really love it when we do that.
I love the respite from the feeling that I should be doing some kind of work in the garden.  Never mind that I haven't done any fall clean-up and there's many dead plants that should come out.  It doesn't matter.  For some reason, it doesn't bother me like it does in the spring and summer when the gardens need attention.  Autumn is for hunkering down, reading books, drawing, baking, writing, and listening to music.  Autumn outside is for taking walks and snapping photos of the fast-fading beauty of the season.  So, lean back, have a nice cup of tea or maybe some hot cider, and enjoy the most beautiful season of the year!


10/23/2009 04:04:00 PM Posted In , , Edit This 25 Comments »
To  celebrate the 3,000th visitor to my blog, I'm giving away 2 wonderful books.  One is called "Let's Play Cards" published by Leisure Arts.  It's all about how to turn playing cards into ATCs, greeting cards, journals and more.  It has lots of cool ideas as well as ephemera you can use for creating your art. 

The other book is called, "Fanciful Paper Projects" by Sandra Evertson.  It's filled with so many fun ideas and besides the instructions, it also has great ephemera you can use.  I think you'll love them!

Just leave a comment between now and Sunday, October 25th, and I will choose a winner using a random number selection process on Monday.  Be sure to include a way for me to reach you, either in your post or by emailing me.  The last time I did this the person who won lost out because I couldn't get in touch with her and she didn't contact me when I announced who the winner was until after I had moved on to someone else.  Please don't let that happen to you!!  Good Luck and thanks for making my blog so much fun!

First Try

10/22/2009 03:04:00 PM Edit This 15 Comments »
Today is sort of gray and it's supposed to start raining this afternoon.  So, I decided to try making a painting with acrylic paint.  I've used acrylics before in my mixed media art, but I've never attempted to do a painting.  I've shied away from it for a number of reasons .... it dries too fast (I don't have one of those special acrylic palettes that keeps your paints moist); I haven't mastered how much water to mix with the paint - it's either too thick and blobs, or it's too thin and is too transparent for what I'm looking for; it leaves hunks of paint on your palette that are hard to get off .... well, I'm sure there's more, but that should suffice.  I've always been a watercolorist when doing paintings, so I decided to experiment a bit.

I've had a number of small canvasses for quite awhile along with a few tubes of acrylic paint.  I have 6 small tubes of Golden acrylics (3/4 oz each), and 9 tubes of Liquitex Basics (which I've had for a very long time and forget now why I bought them).  I started with a reference photo taken in the 1970s during a trip my sister and I took one summer.  We camped our way from Michigan to the West Coast (I use the term "camp" loosely - we actually slept in her van every night except for a few times when we slept in a motel .... that's another story).  The photo had nothing but water in the foreground, and the painting ended up looking only remotely like the photo, but that's OK.

I kind of like the background, and I think the water is only so-so, but the foreground is rather disappointing.  I really don't like the tree at all, and the "grasses" are rather boring.  But, since I'm a work in progress, and so is my art, here it is, warts and all!


10/21/2009 04:31:00 PM Edit This 6 Comments »
Not far from our house is a beautiful trail called The Lakeland Trail.  It used to be a railroad track, but for many years now it's been a trail for non-motorized use.  Lots of horseback riders use it, bicyclists, and of course walkers.  For the second time this week, Abby and I took a hike along the trail.  This is a beautiful time here - the trees are changing colors, large flocks of birds are preparing  to migrate, the air is clear and crisp, and (possibly best of all!), there are no mosquitoes!  I've had a pedometer for quite some time, but I couldn't figure out how to use it.  My sweetie got it set up for me, so today I used it for the first time.
Since it was pretty cool, I wore a lightweight, zippered sweatshirt under a lightweight denim jacket.  Abby decided to go au natural, so all she wore was her collar and leash.  We passed 2 women (we also passed them Monday), and they had their 2 dogs with them who wore matching checkered jackets.  The dogs were very polite and kept their distance from Abby, who is not very friendly with other dogs, to put it mildly.  Next we encountered a woman walking her dog off-leash, but when she saw us coming, she promptly put his leash on him, commenting as we passed that her dog is not very friendly with other dogs.  Even so, both he and Abby behaved nicely and there was no barking or charging from either of them.  Lastly, we met John, a portly, old, gentleman whom we met for the first time on Monday.  He remembered Abby (but called her Angie .... she didn't care a bit and greeted him warmly), and while petting her, confessed that one of his feet was hurting him today.  "I've come down with a new condition",  he said with a twinkle in his eyes.  I told him I was sorry to hear that and hoped it wasn't serious.  He replied, "You've heard of AIDS?   Well, I've got WOBS!".   Even though I'm a nurse, I'd never heard of WOBS before.    "I've got Weary Old Bones Syndrome", he laughed.  I laughed with him.  He said he made that up himself, and I offered that he might be able to sell that one to Jay Leno!

I took a picture of the trail with my phone.  I was annoyed that I hadn't brought my camera, when at the very end of our walk I remembered my phone.  So, here is a picture of the trail at the place where Abby and I started.  I'm planning on taking some real pictures and using them as subjects for paintings and drawings.  Until next time ....

CC's Costume's Done!

10/12/2009 03:46:00 PM Posted In , Edit This 6 Comments »
Our company has left, and I've been able to continue working on his costume. Today I finished the shirt, belt, bag that hangs on the belt, and the beard. The beard has been quite the challenge. I looked everywhere for a beard I could use, but all of them were giant, and they were either red, black, or brown ... definitely the wrong size and color. The Halloween shop suggested I use the glue on kind (I think it's sort of gobs of fake beard glued onto his face, then removed with some sort of solvent .... No Way on CC's little face!!). So today I went to a fabric store and bought some fabric that's called something like curly fleece. It's white and is indeed curly. I cut a beard shape, sewed a casing on it and threaded a piece of elastic through it. Then I tacked it to the inside of the hat. I thought that way the elastic in the beard could help hold the hat on his head. I know the beard is way too long, but I'm going to leave it that way and let Sarah and Ben trim it to size.

I'm anxious about the costume fitting him. I did my best to fit it to the measurements Ben sent me, but still, without him here to try it on before I did the final stitching makes me feel a bit wobbly. I'll be so relieved when I get a picture of him wearing it. Now all I have to do is find a box big enough to hold it for mailing! I had one of the kid's old Teddy Bears model it for the photo, then laid it out on the floor so you can see the whole thing. Let me know what you think!

CC's Halloween Costume

10/04/2009 08:30:00 PM Posted In , , Edit This 6 Comments »
When my sons were little, Halloween was a really big deal at our house. I made all their costumes (until they were older and wanted to put their own costumes together). We had pirates, bumble bees, lions, aliens, wizards .... well, all sorts of things (one year one of them was a bag of candy!). So now I'm a grandmother, and my grandson is 18 months old, so I'm making his second costume. This year his parents decided he should be a garden gnome. I started making it yesterday and I decided that I would make the "fur" boots first. I thought they might be the most complicated part of the costume. Today I finished them. They were a bit tricky, but I think they turned out just fine. The big thing will be if they fit him. I'm in Michigan, and they live in Tennessee. Even though I have all his measurements, it's always better to be able to try things on before the final stitching is done.
I thought I'd just post some pictures as I go along just to keep up with things. Besides the boots, I will make pants, a shirt, belt, hat, and a little drawstring bag to hang on the belt. I think I should put some of those chocolate candies in the bag that look like gold coins ... what do you think? He will also need a beard, which I may or may not make. The beard has become the biggest challenge, but I'll figure something out. So, here are the boots!

Gettin' There

9/28/2009 07:07:00 PM Posted In , Edit This 7 Comments »
Today I finished painting my friend's apartment. Well, she refers to it as "painting her apartment", but what I really did was paint 2 bedrooms and was very happy to be able to help her with her move. I'll go back Wednesday to do some touch-up, but for the most part, it's done.

I also finished baking all the cookies for the party that my son and daughter-in-law gave for her sister. It was a surprise party on Saturday, the weather was wonderful (even tho rain and thunderstorms were predicted), and we had a really good time. I made Spritz cookies, oatmeal/date cookies, brownies, chocolate chip, lemon bars, Norwegian almond bars, "no-fuss" bars (graham cracker crumbs, coconut, mini choc. chips, nuts, and sweetened condensed milk) and peach bars that had coconut in them. There were some left over - enough for Carrie's (my dil) sister-in-law who is due any day now with their second baby, to take home and enjoy, which made me very happy. There was a bonfire, great food, fun and interesting people, and best of all, Carrie's sister Lauren, whom the surprise party was for, was totally unsuspecting and surprised.

I have a new computer (which I'm using as I speak), but it doesn't have everything installed yet (including my email add. book, which is Most Inconvenient), but I love it. It's a Mac (so was my old one), and has a giant screen, no hard drive box, wireless mouse and wireless keyboard! I'm really excited about it.

Since I've been sort of busy lately with non-art things, I'm posting a Zentangle that I did in my last-year's journal. ...... I have to save this post and try to do the download using my sweetie's scanner and computer because we haven't figured out yet how to get my scanner to work with this new baby. He's been really busy, too (right now he's trying to balance the checkbook which I've screwed up yet again .... I try really hard, but every month there are several (or 1 big one) deductions that aren't recorded. He's so sweet about it - never gets mad or anything - I don't know how he does it month after month. I can't tell you how lucky I am. .... This month I made about $1,000 worth of mistakes. Not my all-time high, but getting close.

So, anyhow, assuming I'll be able to use his equipment (with his help), here's the Zentangle. Until next time!


9/23/2009 08:52:00 PM Posted In , Edit This 7 Comments »
I've been really busy lately, and haven't taken (I almost said "haven't had") time to spend on art. I know that the time is always there - I just have to find it and do it. But, sometimes I get distracted and find that by the end of the day I'm really tired and just can't find the energy to go to my studio and do anything. Also, I've been in a bit of a slump lately when it comes to knowing what to do and how to do it. So, I decided that I would do a bit of collage (which I haven't done in quite awhile), and just play with paper and ink. Since I have a few postcard addresses from Postcrossing that I want to take care of, it seemed like a perfect match.

I'm not sure this card is finished yet, but I thought I'd share it anyway while I ponder what, if anything, to do next on it. I first covered the background with ink using a makeup sponge, stamped and embossed the plant on the left, added the torn paint chip in the lower corner (which is textured like sand), then put the picture of the fairy and Pinocchio on it. The blue paper on the top is a torn napkin, and I stamped the 2 birds on. I have a really ancient manual typewriter (I'll post a picture of it some day - I mean it's really, really old) which I used to type the quote on old, yellowed paper that I have, then added the red German scrap top and bottom. The silver star is cut out of some stickers that a charitable organization sent in a "send us some money, please" mailing. The card is nothing special, but at least doing it gave me the feeling that I spent a bit of time on art.

Tomorrow I'm going to a friend's apartment to help her paint it, then Friday I have to finish baking 24 dozen cookies for a party my son and his wife are having. I have 4 kinds baked and frozen, but I have 4 or 5 more kinds to bake by Saturday afternoon. I'll try to post again before the weekend .... I'm sure I'll need the break from painting and baking!

Abby and an Anniversary

9/21/2009 08:13:00 AM Posted In , , Edit This 13 Comments »
Today is our 35th wedding anniversary! We celebrated yesterday by going to dinner to a restaurant we love in Chelsea called The Common Grill. There's nothing common about the food. I had a wonderful goat cheese ravioli with a delicious sauce with large chunks of lobster in it. My sweetie had a stuffed chicken breast that looked wonderful. We shared a dessert of some sort of warm, crispy, chocolate affair with candied pecans as a garnish.
When we came home, we sat on the porch and I did a quick sketch of Abby, our special spaniel. (She tells us constantly just how special she is). She's very sweet and laid back, great with children of all ages, and most agreeable. I love her dearly.
Soon I'll be leaving to join up with my friend Vicki, for a day of roaming around checking out second hand shops and who knows what else! It's always a fine time and we'll also have a spot of lunch somewhere. So, until the next time, I hope your day is filled with moments of pleasure, joy, and gratitude. nancy

Back in the Saddle

9/17/2009 03:44:00 PM Posted In , Edit This 12 Comments »
We've been to Nashville to see little Clyde, our grandson. He gives me such joy just to watch him toddle about. I love how he swings his left arm when he's on a mission - he's all business then, and knows just what he wants to do. He makes me smile and laugh like no one else can. Here's a picture of him in his brand-new boots (which he loves!).

While there, we took him on a couple of little outings. One of them was to the Opry Mills shopping center to see the fish and ride the merry-go-round. There is a large, shallow pool there filled with stingrays, and for $2.00 you can get a little plastic container of shrimp to use to hand feed them! Of course, I couldn't wait to do it, and since the walls of the tank are clear, the baby could watch from his stroller. The stingrays are very gentle, and most amazing to me is that they like to be petted! I'd never seen them "in the flesh" before, only in pictures and on TV. For the first time I saw their underside, and they have very sweet little faces under there! They are gentle and take the food carefully from your hand. They are very smooth and sort of velvety to the touch. Sadly, we didn't get any pictures of them - we left our cameras in the car, and I didn't think to use my cell phone. ...... I guess I'll just have to go back soon, don't you think?

I took some art supplies with me, but I was busy the whole time doing fun things, and didn't do a single drawing. Also, I put all of my art groups on "no mail", so as not to have so much in my inbox when I got back (there were still 154 of them) and now I feel like I have no idea what's going on. It's sort of like starting out new again. My computer is very slow, both because it's old and because we can't get a very fast connection here in Hooterville, so trying to go back and look at every ones postings and blogs just takes me way too long. I'm waiting for a new Mac computer to arrive any day now (hooray!!!), and I'm very excited to start using it. My sweetie will help me get it all settled in, and I can't wait!

So, in lieu of new work to post, I'm posting an ink drawing from my journal. It was a rather quick sketch on paper that has texture to it - not the best choice for the medium I used, but it was what I had available at the time. After I got home, I trimmed it and pasted it in my journal. I'm hoping to have more time now to get back to my art!

See you soon~

Ding Dong, The Bees Are Gone - almost

9/08/2009 04:01:00 PM Posted In , , , , , Edit This 16 Comments »
It's been too long since I've posted - things have been pretty busy around here. Most recently, we discovered we've become the home for yellow jackets and another kind of wasp. Now I don't mind the bees and things, as long as they stay in their place - which is outside!! Last week I started seeing (and killing) bees in our kitchen. At first just one or two a day, but by Friday, I was killing several of them a day. Then I discovered the floor of the furnace room in the basement littered with their little yellow jacket bodies, and several of them hovering around inside the window. Time to call the exterminator!
It took several phone calls: "sorry, mam, we only kill mammals", "sorry, mam, we can't come for a couple of days", "sorry mam, we don't go out as far as you live". You'd think that exterminators would do a great business out here in Hooterville where all the critters live, but nooo. Finally this morning I found a nice man who would come out today! Yea!!! They're called Maples Exterminators, for anyone who lives in Livingston County, Michigan (they go to other counties, too). So, as the nice man in his space suit was outside spraying the dickens out of the little buggers, I stayed in the studio playing. I could hear the buzzing in the walls - it was a bit disconcerting, but I kept at it, working on a mixed media page in my journal. I had to go to the window in the guest room and watch from time to time, but I was afraid he would look up and be startled to find me staring at him and fall off his ladder, poison and all. He went around the house and ended up spraying 3 separate places outside and then came in to spray in the furnace room. He said it could take up to a week for all the bees to die ... I'm betting they'll be gone before then.
So, here is what I did while he worked. I like parts of it, and parts of it I don't like at all, but all things considered, it's a wonder I got it finished!

P.S. I just noticed that I spelled the name of the plant wrong .... it's Caladium!

Last 3 ATCs

8/31/2009 09:17:00 AM Posted In , , , , Edit This 6 Comments »
I've finally finished all 9 ATCs for the Canadian exhibit! All three were done on black cardstock. The one on the top has a stencil design made with 101 Light Artist's Cement by USArtQuest. I added gold PearlEx to it before applying it to the stencil with a palette knife. When it dried, I painted over it with MicaColor Sparkle Gold from the Interference palette (also by USArtQuest). Then I embossed the butterflies with gold embossing powder and colored them in using Gel Xtreme metallic markers by Yasutomo. Last I used double-sided tape around the edges and covered it with Leaf Metal flakes by Eberhard Faber.

The card on the bottom left is painted with MicaColor paints using a variety of colors from different palettes. I put a few lines down using a white pencil before I started painting so I had something to go by.

The last card is embroidered using Guttermann Machine Embroidery thread and a pattern I got from the book "Basics of Embroidery on Paper" by Erica Fortgens. When I had finished sewing the card, I glued another piece of black cardstock to the back to cover up all the threads. The instructions in the book said to use adhesive tape to secure the thread ends, but that didn't seem like it would hold for long, so I glued all of them down with a bit of Aleene's Tacky Glue.

So, now I can get back to drawing plants from the gardens and yard!

3 More ATCs

8/26/2009 03:32:00 PM Posted In , , , , Edit This 8 Comments »
Well, here are 3 more of the ATCs I've made to send to the Canadian exhibit. The one on the top is made from a scrap of denim material that I cut from an old pair of jeans I was getting rid of. I embroidered the clouds, flowers, and grass, added the sheep and sun charms, then used a blanket stitch to both attach the backing fabric and to keep it from fraying. I wasn't sure how I was going to add all the info to the back of this one, so what I ended up doing was spraying the fabric with workable fixative and then using my trusty Micron Pen. It worked really well!

The one on the bottom left has a page of text from an old book, a snippet of an old letter (I bought a pack of old letters at a garage sale), 2 old foreign postage stamps, and a packing tape transfer. I forget whose face it is, but I think he was a contemporary of Queen Elizabeth I ..... sorry about that, old chap.

The last one is ink and colored pencil. The shells were collected in Florida by a friend of mine who generously shared them with me .... Thanks Judy!

Garden Plant - 3

8/24/2009 07:27:00 AM Posted In , Edit This 5 Comments »
Here is another flower - this one is a Purple Cone Flower. My flowers are fading and falling apart fast. I need to really get going (at my usual snail's pace) if I'm going to draw many more of them from life. Oh well, there's still the mums which haven't bloomed yet!

1st 3 ATCs

8/21/2009 11:26:00 AM Posted In , , , , , Edit This 6 Comments »
Well, these are the first ATCs for the Canadian swap that I'm planning to participate in. As I mentioned before, I'm going to try to use different techniques on each one of them (I have to send in 9). The bird is done with watercolor pencils with a wee bit of ink on the wisps of the plant. The "Peace Is Possible" card has a background made of paper towel painted with Lumiere paint, a postage stamp, words typed on my really old manual typewriter, and a bird image cut from an old greeting card. And the last card has a chalk background with a stamp that has been colored in with colored pencils (my apologies - I haven't recorded where Any of my stamps came from, but I will start doing that), stamped words, and a small charm glued in the corner.

I don't know what I'm going to do next - maybe a few different transfer methods. Suggestions are always welcome!

Garden Plants - 2

8/20/2009 02:49:00 PM Posted In , , , Edit This 12 Comments »
Well, the last 2 days have been pretty busy, and I haven't really done much drawing. I've been working on an ATC (I'm sooo slow) that isn't finished yet, and I want to complete it and one other before I post them. I do have some rather quick ink and watercolor sketches of a few more garden dwellers. The ivy is done with colored pencil, everything else is ink and watercolor.

I really had trouble with the leaves of the begonia plant. I was using a very limited set of watercolors and just couldn't get the color right. Oh well, one more thing to practice, right? I have a wee vase on my drawing table with some flowers in it to draw, but I fear they may wilt before I can get to them. Maybe I'll draw them anyway ..... nah, probably not!

Garden Plants

8/18/2009 08:50:00 PM Posted In , , Edit This 15 Comments »
Sometimes I have a hard time trying to decide what to do in my art journal. I live pretty far out in the country, and it takes about half an hour to get to someplace where I can sit and unobtrusively draw people, which I dearly love to do. So, recently I decided that I would start to document the various plants we have growing around our house. I called this post "Garden Plants" (originally it was called "Garden Flowers", until I realized that many of the things growing here are weeds ... like the green stuff we call our lawn), so that I can include drawings of plants that are no longer flowering, or maybe never will. Anyhow, all of the things I drew for this first of a series are blooming as I write this, and I'm going to try to add at least 1 plant each day. All of these were done with ink and watercolor.

I'm also working on the ATCs I'm going to send to Canada soon for an exhibit in Richmond, British Columbia. I have enough cards that I've made in the past, but I'd sort of like to send 9 (the required amount) that I made just for the exhibit and trade. I'm finishing the second one now, and will post them 3 at a time as they are completed. I'm going to try to do them using 9 different styles and techniques. More on that later!
So, here's the first 3 plant drawings!

We Called It A Draw

8/16/2009 11:11:00 AM Posted In , , , Edit This 6 Comments »
Well, the Brat and I went 2 or 3 more rounds with colored pencil, and we both got really tired of it. She said, "enough is enough ... are you crazy?". I countered with my ultimate insult, "You bore me to tears". We decided to call it a draw and we will both move on. I'm sure after a bit of time has passed things will be better between us. ......... I'm pretty sure she's a teenager.

Overworked and Underdone

8/13/2009 10:03:00 AM Posted In , , Edit This 15 Comments »
Well, this drawing started out to be a quick ink sketch in my art journal. She became really cantankerous and just wouldn't cooperate. So, I decided I'd show her who was boss, and I switched to acrylic paint. "I'll show you!", I thought, laughing to myself. Well, she became even more defiant - nothing I did could tame her. "Aha!", I thought ... "colored pencil will give me more control than a paintbrush", so I brought out all my Prismacolor colored pencils. I tried various hardnesses and a variety of colors - I even used metallic colors on her lips. She laughed at me, dug in her heels, and became even more stubborn. So, I told her I was going to post her overworked, unfinished, self on my blog for all the world to see and threatened her with my pastels! She stuck out her tongue, showing her true, bratty nature.
So, true to my word, here she is. If the pastels don't work, I have one more trick up my sleeve - it's called "GESSO" ...... don't tell her.

Why I Love Ink

8/07/2009 02:33:00 PM Posted In , Edit This 13 Comments »
In doing a wee bit of wall decor rearranging, I took down this drawing I did awhile ago and replaced it with a much larger watercolor. It's been hanging above the mantle since before Christmas, and I just didn't see it anymore - it just blended in with everything else. When I took it down I took a good, long look at it again, and thought about all the things I love about drawing with ink.

When I draw with ink, I tend to go a bit slower than I do with pencil. I think it's because the ink is so permanent - no erasing it. Once it's down, it's down. With drawings like this one, I quickly get lost in it. The pen almost seems to go where ever it wants, and I'm just there to observe. I love all the little details the .oo5 Micron pen can make (my favorite sizes of Micro are .005, .01, and .02). Teensy little dots, squiggles, and lines seem to magically appear on the paper right before my eyes, and as images emerge I'm both mesmerized and amazed. I love the clean lines and the versatility of ink - things can be light and airy or really dark and heavy. And, I love that I can use color or not - the drawings can stand on their own.

This drawing is called, "An Unexpected Turn of Events", and hung in the Power Center Auditorium in Ann Arbor for several weeks.

Feelin Good

8/03/2009 04:47:00 PM Posted In , , Edit This 5 Comments »
Today it's hot and humid, the sky is gray, and it's threatening to rain. The wind is blowing so hard I can't sit out on the porch .... even Abby the dog wants to stay inside. But here inside, it feels really good. It's cool, smells like the banana bread I made this morning, dinner will be easy (salad with leftover steak in it, smothered in homemade blue cheese dressing and really good, crusty bread which I didn't make), and the house is more or less in order. I don't even have to iron anything to wear for my day at the Health Dept. tomorrow! I talked on the phone with my son Andrew, who will be coming over Saturday with his wonderful, fun wife Carrie, to cook dinner for us. "Us" being Michael and I, Ben, Sarah, and super-baby Clyde. What more could a woman want?
So, as I sat with my trusty Micron Pens, I found myself doing a whimsical nothing that just begged to be colored in with a variety of watercolor pencils. What a great day!

Lucky Me!

8/02/2009 03:10:00 PM Posted In , , Edit This 6 Comments »
Well, lucky me!! I recently won by random drawing 2 wonderful ATCs from Marva Plummer-Bruno. Visit her blog at for a real treat. Her drawings are wonderful - I've added her to my favorites list. Thanks again, Marva!

Now, there's another reason why I'm so lucky. On Thursday I picked up Ben, Sarah, and Clyde (my son, daughter-in-law, and 16 month old grandson) from the airport. They live in Nashville, so we don't get to see them nearly enough for my taste. They spent the night with us, and then on Friday they left to go to North Muskegon where Sarah's parents live, and then they were all going to the UP (as in Upper Peninsula) for a week long vacation in St. Ignace. Next Saturday I'll meet them in Lansing and they'll spend the night with us before we take them back to the airport to head for home.
Every time I see Clyde I'm so amazed at how much he's grown, learned and accomplished since I saw him last. He will put his toys away when asked, wipe up spills, he can put on his shoes (not always on the right feet, but we don't care for rambling around the house), and he plays really nicely with our old dog, Abby. He's beginning to talk, and of course, he's running all around. He's truly a joy to be with - fun, funny, affectionate, and very interesting, not to mention really, really cute! Ben and Sarah are most excellent parents. I love watching them with him, and it makes me so proud of them.
OK, I guess that's about enough touting the joys of being a grandmother, right? I'll try to use more self-restraint in the future! ..... but don't bet the farm on it. LOL

Talented Friends

7/29/2009 05:14:00 PM Posted In , , , Edit This 3 Comments »
I'm fortunate to have several dear friends who are very talented people. Today with her permission, I'd like to showcase my friend, Julia, who is an amazing woman. When I first moved out here to the country, a neighbor said to me, "there's a woman down the road who does nothing but garden". Boy, was he ever wrong! Julia is a most wonderful gardener, to be sure, but that is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg when it comes to her many accomplishments. She is a spinner, weaver, wonderful gardener (for another post!), seamstress, tailor, and an innovative and creative cook. She is the grandmother of 2 beautiful children who simply adore her (as do her 3 dogs and 2 cats). She is generous with her time and energy and has helped me out immensely during some very difficult times.
One of her most recent projects is so remarkable to me that I just had to share it with you. She made 2 dolls (a big sister and a baby-doll), clothing for each, little baby quilt, and most amazing of all, a doll bed! She spent countless hours adding the most charming details and finishes that only a woman with her talent could achieve. Her patience, devotion and love is apparent in every single stitch, and I am in awe of what she has done. I think you will be, too!

New Winner and Quick Sketch

7/27/2009 06:01:00 AM Posted In , Edit This 5 Comments »
Well, the deadline to contact me came and went, and I didn't hear from Arlene, so we have a new winner of the goodies -- Pat, come on down!! I expect I'll hear from her soon, and I'll send off her box of treats right away. Again, thanks everyone for leaving such kind comments on my blog.

Yesterday while waiting for a guest to arrive, we sat on the front porch and enjoyed the wonderful weather we were having. I had about 15 minutes to do this little ball-point pen sketch of some of the things nearby before he arrived. I didn't get the bell pole right, but it passed the time pleasantly and I think I'll have another go at drawing it again soon.

Treat yourself and the world gently today! nancy

And The Winner Is.......

7/24/2009 05:05:00 PM Edit This 1 Comment »
Before I announce the winner of the box of goodies, I have to explain something. You may have noticed that I deleted one of the comments after I posted it. I did that because I inadvertently posted the same comment twice. I just discovered my mistake today ... good thing, too, since today is the day of the random drawing! OK, (can you hear the drum roll?) the winner is Arlene from Richmond, British Columbia, Canada!! Congratulations Arlene. Please email me your address by Sunday night, and I'll get your box off to you ASAP!! There will be other give-away posts in the future, so please do keep dropping in.
One of the freebies I'm planning on doing (as soon as I learn how) is posting pictures of old cabinet cards for you to download and use. I have quite a few of them - some family members that nobody in the family knows who they are, and lots of ones I've bought over the years. I have lots of other ephemera I'd love to share with you!

Thanks again to everyone who visits, and special thanks to those who leave comments. I appreciate each and every one! Here's one last look at the ephemera and trinkets Arlene won .... maybe next time it will be you!

Great Day

7/23/2009 08:32:00 PM Posted In , , Edit This 3 Comments »
Today my good friend Vicki and I went to the warehouse sale at USArtQuest. The owner, Sue Pickering Rothamel is just a wonder. Besides her art supply business (she sells many products that are made right there), she is a fabulous artist. Her creative ideas really amaze me. She paints, invents and develops new products (think Perfect Paper Adhesive and Mica Magic Watercolor paints), and thinks up the most interesting and fun projects. Soon she'll be having a class on making, among other things, checkbook covers using cloth similar to canvas (sorry, Sue, I forgot the exact name of it), paint and paper napkins, of all things! I've seen them and they are really great.
So, anyhow, Vicki and I spent a good deal of time there, and I got some super treasures at super prices (great unmounted stamps, Light 101 Artist's Cement (I'll use it in a future post), some very unique stickers, and lots more. The best part, though, was a chance for a visit with Sue. She's so warm and welcoming - I just wish all of you could meet her. Check her website ( to see (and maybe even order) some of her things. There may be a schedule there of places she'll be around the country. Go see her if you can!
Vicki & I also hit an estate sale on the way home where I bought just a few cool things. After I got home I wanted to do some art, but was completely blocked. I just sat down with my art journal and this is what happened. It's pretty silly and not well done, but then so am I much of the time!
P.S. Don't forget to leave a comment on the "Give-away" post - tomorrow's the last day for a chance to win the goodies!


7/18/2009 09:47:00 PM Posted In , Edit This 7 Comments »
I have two children .... they are both grown men now. When I became pregnant with our first son, I couldn't believe the joy and excitement I felt. When he was born, it was like a miracle .. he was born 3 weeks early and weighed less than 5 pounds. We named him Andrew, and he was beautiful and amazing. Every single day with him was like a wonderful gift. I was enthralled with everything he did and I was certain I could never love another child like I loved him. Less than 3 years later, I became pregnant again. Once again I felt full of joy and excited anticipation. My husband and I were thrilled, but I must confess, I had just a wee voice in the background that spoke up every now and again saying things like, "this poor child will never be loved as much as Andrew is .... it's just not possible .... you aren't capable of that much love".
Then Ben was born. He was a week early (he was in such a hurry to get here, he was almost born in the car), and while he weighed more than Andrew did at birth, he wasn't very big either - less than 7 pounds. I was knocked over by the wave of love I felt for him from the moment I laid eyes on him. All doubts I had about being able to love another child vanished completely. Three days later he was dying. For two weeks he lay in intensive care at the hospital fighting for his life, but he was a strong little bugger and he recovered fully.
Now we are grandparents. Our little grandson is just over one year old. The love in my heart for that child is every bit as intense and deep as the love I feel for his father and uncle. Every day I think of the three of them - two sons and a grandson, and I know they are the best gifts a person could ever have in an entire lifetime. I am a grateful person, indeed.p.s. Don't forget to leave a comment on the Free Give-away posting for a chance to win the bag of goodies!

Free Give-away

7/16/2009 08:35:00 PM Posted In Edit This 21 Comments »
Well, I have something to celebrate - I have had over 1,000 visits to my blog! So, to thank everyone for their kindness and interest, I've put together a package of art goodies to use in your projects. There is all kinds of cool stuff in it -- little puzzle pieces, scrabble tiles, beads, buttons, keys, old Holden Red Stamp pages (anyone remember them besides me?), paper napkins with neat things on them, fabric swatches -- well, you get the idea! My good friend and computer guru Vicki showed me how to find and use a Random Selection tool on line, and I will use it to see who the lucky person will be who gets it. Just leave a comment on this posting between now and 5:00 p.m. July 24 (Eastern Standard Time), and then I'll pick a winner. I'll post the name of the winner, and you can email me with your address so I can send your goodie box to you. Here's a picture of some of the stuff you can expect. If I haven't heard from the winner by the end of the weekend, I'll use the random thingy again to pick someone else.
So, thanks again everyone, and good luck!

Sketch & Wash

7/13/2009 08:22:00 AM Posted In , , Edit This 9 Comments »
Not too long ago I got a couple of new pencils. They are called, "Sketch & Wash", and they are water-soluble graphite pencils. Now I was really intrigued when I heard about them and thought it would be great fun to try them. So yesterday while the rice was cooking, I sat down with a Vanity Fair magazine and did a sketch using one of the photographs as a model. Here's what I learned. They seem like a regular, fairly soft, pencil and can be blended with your finger (or a stump or chamois, etc) just like a good old-fashioned pencil. By adding water (I used a brush, but you could use your finger or a cloth) the color gets a lot darker than when it's dry. I wanted to remove some of it, but found once it was wet I couldn't easily do it. I definitely need more practice with them, but all in all, I think I'll really like using them. I like the way the water helps the color blend and soften. I'll noodle around with them some more and see if I can get a bit better!

New Toy, New Color Weavings

7/12/2009 07:57:00 PM Posted In , , Edit This 1 Comment »
My new friend Susan Pickering-Rothamel, owner of USArtQuest, graciously gave me a new toy to play with. It's by her company, and it's called The Fine Liner - A Calligraphic Drawing Pen. You may remember that earlier I did a number of color weavings using her Mica Color watercolor paints. I did that set on white paper, and Sue asked me if I would do another set of them using the same paints on black paper. Of course, I said I would - another chance to play with these wonderful mica paints! Sadly, the scans of them don't begin to show you what they really look like. The interference colors especially are impossible to either scan or photograph (at least with my Very Limited photographic ability) in a way that will show you what they look like. The Pastelle colors also don't come close to giving you an idea of how lovely they are on black paper.
The new toy, The Fine Liner, is really fun to play with. It is made of brass (I think), and you can use it with paint thinned to ink-like consistency, Duo Adhesive (another product by USArtQuest), or ink. You just fill the little chamber with the medium of your choice, give it a wee tap on scrap paper to make sure the liquid if flowing, and off you go! Sue demonstrated it for me in her store, and I was wowed - not just by the Fine Liner, but also by her calligraphy talent (of which I have none!). If you want one of these for your very own, go to and I just bet you can fine one. You won't be sorry, I promise!