Monday, April 30, 2012

Monday Musings: Family

Since today is my 35th wedding anniversary, I haven't had any time for the journal as I've spent the entire day with Keith.  As a matter of fact, we spent the entire weekend together on a get-away that I'll share with you in more detail in my Weekend Journal.

Reflecting back over the past years is a pleasure we both enjoy each year.  Somehow, this year is more poignant for me as it was 10 years ago that we celebrated our 25th by Keith surprising me with an anniversary party and the renewal of our vows.  Family and friends traveled great distances to help us celebrate and it's a memory that I will always hold dear to my heart.

As I look through the photos of that happy time, it saddens me to see how many of our loved ones have passed on since that happy time.  Keith's dad, my mom, Sam, Marilyn, Billy, Tom, Mike . . . it's hard to believe that just 10 short years ago we were all together.

Anyway....the hour grows late and I grow tired.  I can't seem to focus and this post has taken a turn I hadn't intended!  What I meant to write about was stamina, loyalty, commitment, laughter, love - all the qualities that can be found in a relationship that has endured so many years.  I meant to write about family and the ties that bind over the generations.  I'm not doing such a great job of it, but my son, Mike, has.  He has captured in 6 minutes, that which I can not capture in 4 lengthy paragraphs.  Please enjoy his video (for best viewing watch on YouTube at 1080 HD), and I'll see you tomorrow with tips and techniques.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Weekend Journal

It's been a busy couple weeks!  After just one week of vacation from the usual daily grind, Keith and I both found ourselves struggling to get back into the "groove" of things.  It felt as if we'd taken off more like a month!  I think we're finally back on track.

I spent a little more time playing with my new watercolors.  I gessoed the page and then poured and splattered blue and green watercolors wet-into-wet, wet-into-dry, and everything in between.  What I could see was this tree and landscape, so I enhanced what was there.  I added violet and yellow to liven things up a bit.

I had torn the top Blue Jay image out of a magazine, and it kept falling out of my journal.  What was I to do except create a page around it?  One of my students saw I was working with it, and as it turned out, she had the mate to it and happily gave it to me.  This is a mixture of acrylic washes, Mod Podged magazine images and text that I assembled in the "intuitive playing" method.

This is another intuitive playing spread, created in much the same fashion as the spread above.  I'm surprised to see myself using so much green and yellow.  I guess I needed the change.

This spread was also created in an intuitive fashion, only this time, I didn't use any magazine images.  I started this page with a dip pen and black India ink.  I drew a random pattern of squares and it evolved into this.  It's mostly craft acrylic.

Here's the latest addition to my journal, a WIP begun in my journaling class last night.  The lesson was using your hand as a self portrait.  I may have to detail that in a Tuesday Tips and Techniques in the near future.


I can't believe it's that time of year again - my art workshop with the women of the SMART (Single Mothers Achieving Real Triumph) program!  We had our workshop last Friday, and I met a terrific group of women in the final days of the quarter.  I'll write more about this after next week's graduating ceremonies.


I've been on a roll with the videos lately.  Thanks to my "tech guy's" help, I've been able to get Windows Movie Maker to cooperate with me!  The real test will come when I try to record and publish actual video footage as opposed to stills.  Here's my newest video, "Inside Out".  Please enjoy and check out my other videos if you haven't seen them yet.  You can watch them on YouTube by clicking on their icon in the lower right of the video screen.

Everyone  have a wonderfully restful and creative weekend.  Pamper yourself, ok?  I took my own adivce.  I used this wonderful coffee cup that Nadia brought me all the way back from the Kiltrea Bridge Pottery Company in Ireland.  The photo doesn't do justice to the beautiful glaze on this mug.  She also brought us into the current century with this awesome electric teapot, and dark chocolate from See's in California.  YUUUUUUMMMMMM!

 I had been savoring one piece of chocolate a day, but yep, I ate all three of these with my favorite cup of Chai.  Now I have to go walk!  I'll see you back here on Monday with some more of my musings.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Tuesday Tips and Techniques: Drawing Tips

When I say the word "draw" to other people, often the response is, "I can't draw a stick figure", or "My drawing is horrible."  Well, I think drawing is just like any other skill that one acquires.  Whether it's learning to ride a bike, learning to type, learning to play an instrument, or learning to walk, you have to begin with the first baby steps.  You're going to have to concentrate.  You're going to have to have determination.  You're going to fail miserably at your first attempts.

Photo: Rodin's Sculpture,  "The Farewell" 1892

Sooner or later, you're going to master the basics.  You're eventually going to walk without giving it your undivided attention and concentration.  With more determination you might even find the discipline to walk extreme distances or heights.  I think drawing is the same.  Here are some tips that I've  found helpful and I hope you will too.

  1. Copy artists who inspire you.  Examine their techniques and try to mimic their style. Look to "The Masters".
  2. Develop a tonal value scale.  This is essential.  It's one of the basics!
  3. Watch drawing videos.  YouTube is filled with informative, instructional tutorials.
  4. Use a light touch.  (I'm really heavy handed and have been practicing this myself)  Successful drawings are layers of marks.
  5. Really look at what you want to draw.  Don't draw what you think you see, draw what you do see!  
  6. Squint your eyes to help find the darkest darks and the lightest lights.
  7. Use a medium pencil to begin with and gradually use darker pencils to finish. 
  8. Practice. Practice. Practice.  Practice may not make perfect, but it will certainly make better!
  9. Did I say "Practice?"

Here are some additional tips from a YouTube channel that I stumbled upon recently.  I like the first two videos I watched, and thought I would share them with you.  They're short and informative, and I agree with the things he says about drawing.  Take a look around his channel.  He's completed some really fabulous celebrity drawings that I think you'll like!

I hope you'll pull out your sketchbook and do some drawing.  Remember, there's no need to limit yourself to portraits or people.  Draw what inspires you!  Or draw something that has always been a challenge for you.  I'm thinking that I may do some animal studies, perhaps beginning with birds.  I love them so - I should learn to do them justice with the pencil!

I may work on this some more.  Fix her nose and forehead and do more work on the hand.  Or I just may  move on to the next!

Last put not least, STOP CRITICIZING YOUR WORK!  Making note of what you've done incorrectly and learning from your mistakes is fine.  Telling yourself that "this SUCKS!", without any real critique and solution is NOT.  Did you hear me?  Great!  Now grab your pencils and have some fun with drawing!


Monday, April 23, 2012

Monday Musings: Andy Warhol

Mondays feel empty without my mandala post, so since that project is completed, I've decided to post "Musings" on Mondays.  I think about a lot of different things over the course of a day - some of which are possibly  probably a little bizarre, or "off the wall", to say the least.

Over the last few years, I've been infatuated with Andy Warhol for short periods of time.  I can't tell you what triggers the infatuation because I was never really that fascinated by his work for more than having to complete a pop art project in high school.  My project was a Soft and Dry Deodorant can.  (Yes - I still have it somewhere in the depths of my studio, but that's another post).

I think what interests me about Warhol is his quirkiness.  He had these out-of-the-box, off-the-wall, bizarre ideas and he just went with them.  He turned the daily, mundane reality of life into art.  I admire that.  I mean, who would ever think to film themselves eating a burger?  Really?  Maybe more "really" is the fact that I watched the entire thing when I first saw this a couple years ago.

Anyway, I started thinking about what Warhol might be doing if he were still alive today.  Andy died in 1987, and a LOT of things have changed over the last 20 plus years.  I can only imagine how modern technology would have changed his art and what direction his work may have taken.

All Photographs were taken by An'Angelia and altered at

I'm certain he would have loved digital media and all of the wonderful ways that photographs can be altered. Here are my flower art photos (done with Tuxpi), and here's a link to one of Warhol's flower prints.

Speaking of technology, I wonder how he would have used social media in his artwork.  I think he would have enjoyed reaching the masses through some sort of eccentric blog or a world wide art project of some kind.  I wonder if he would have "tweeted" his thoughts?

That thought leads me to subject matter.  I've thought about some of the things that may have had an impact on Warhol's work.  I wonder if he would have revisited his Campbell Soup theme?  After all, there are new labels, ie., "Healthy Request".  I'm absolutely certain that bottled water would have found it's way into his art in one form or another.  And how about reality shows?  Can you just imagine an Andy Warhol reality show?  I can only begin to imagine how YouTube and instant video would be incorporated into his work, and what celebrities do you think would have made into the "Warhol Hall of Fame"?  I can think of a few...

I'm thinking Andy might have touched upon zombies.  He would almost be forced to do so - they're everywhere you look!

Well, I guess that's enough musing about Andy Warhol for one day.  It does cross my mind that with all of this wonderful technology readily available to everyone,  Andy would have to work a little harder to make his work unique.  It does make me wonder how he would do that, but in the meantime, he's given me lots of great ideas.  Thanks, Andy!


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Tuesday Tips and Techniques: Reuse Those Body Mist Sprayers!

Body mist spray bottles aren't just for the bath anymore!  When the last drops of your favorite scent are gone, wash out the empty bottle and grab your favorite craft acrylic color.

A very small amount of paint will go a long way in creating soft, misty effects on your journal page.  Three or four drops of paint, a couple tablespoons of water, and some vigorous shaking is all it takes.

I was thinking about the beautiful Redbud and apple blossoms that we saw at the park last week, so I decided I would create a page with that theme.  I first applied watercolor to the blank paper for a soft background.

I misted the remaining white areas with the paint in the body spray bottle.  I kept the journal flat on the table so it would puddle in places and blend in with the watercolor in other places.

Once I was satisfied with the amount of paint on the page, I began tilting my journal so some of it would run and add subtle texture.

Thinning the acrylic paint allows it to become more transparent.  You can see that the yellow watercolor paint still shows through the acrylic spray.

A few lines of journaling, a quick sketch with black India ink and a dip pen, and the addition of more watercolor paint completed my page.  Very minimal.  Very zen.  Very unlike my usual work!

Now for the "not so much fun" part.  The sprayer must be cleaned out with warm, soapy water so the paint doesn't dry in the tube or nozzle.

The good news is, this particular brand (Bath & Body Works), disassembles quite easily.  My bottle had been laying in my art travel bag and was clogged so I had to do a major cleaning.  If you take the top off and stick the spraying assembly into soapy water, you can give it a few sprays until it sprays clear, place the closed bottle upright, and it will be good to go next time you decide to use it.

I know you've got at least one body spray bottle almost empty - don't forget you've got some paint that wants to live there!


Monday, April 16, 2012

Monday's Mandala

You may be surprised to see a "Monday's Mandala" post, but I couldn't let my winter project just fade off into the distance without a proper epilogue.

I decided to make a video of my mandala book.  I've included all 24 mandalas from my winter project as well as a few other mandalas I created before the project.  I hope you enjoy it.


Saturday, April 14, 2012

Weekend Journal

It's been an extraordinary week for me.  Mike and Nadia arrived safely from California last Saturday, so the entire family has been together for the whole week.  Yes - I'm happy beyond words!  There have been family cookouts and way too much food (but I've enjoyed every calorie!), quiet strolls along the beach, visits to parks, and hours just sitting around reminiscing and laughing.  I really hate to see it come to an end as Mike and Nadia head back to CA tomorrow.

Heather has been making mouth watering desserts for us all week.  My personal favorite - Biscoff Truffles.  Biscoff spread. Cream cheese.  Chocolate.  Speechless goodness.  Heather is amazing with the baked goods and has a wonderful blog: Bake, Run, Live.  If you want to see some great baked goods and sweets and collect some wonderful recipes, this is your ticket!  And the most importantl part - they're "made with love, not calories".  I've been telling myself that all week.

Other family members got in on the sweet action, too.  Mike and Nadia sent Keith this unbelievable box of chocolate covered strawberries from Sheri's Berries for his birthday.  They're deliciously sweet and crazy big!  Sis also contributed awesome chocolate peanut butter brownies to the dessert table.  

And let us not forget Nadia's creamy, luscious homemade flan.  Definitely no calories in this! (Ha!)

Of course, we had to offset all the food (a trip to Melt, breakfast at the 50's Diner, cabbage rolls, chicken curry, etc., etc.....) with some activitiy, and I also had to sneak in some journaling via camera.  Here are some snippets of our trip to the Cleveland Metroparks / North Chagrin Reservation in Willoughby Hills.

Squire's Castle front

Squire's Castle rear right

Looking up through the tower

Crab apple tree blossoms

Red Bud tree

Spring Beauty flowers

Yesterday was all about "the guys" as they washed, polished and "prettied up" the Mustangs.  Four-wheeled Mustangs, that is.  Mike, (videographer extraordinaire), attached his camera to the back window of my car and took video footage of the trip to and from the beach.  I can't wait to see the finished product and I'll be sure to share the link with you.  Here are a couple pictures from yesterday's photo shoot.

Mustang photos:  Keith Thompson

Nick's 99 Saleen, Keith's 69 Coupe and 96 GT Coupe

I have to admit to just a little journaling activity.  Remember the 29 Faces Challenge?  Mike helped me iron out my tech kinks and make a short video of the project.  Here's the finished video.  For the best viewing, watch on YouTube in full screen.

As this week winds down, I hope you are finding ways to not only create, but to celebrate and love this amazing journey we call life.  I hope you're surrounded by loving family and friends, and all the wonderful things that bring you pleasure.

Heather, Nick, Keith, Nadia, Mike

As for me, life just doesn't get any better than this.  I'm an extremely blessed and happy woman.


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Tuesday Tips and Techniques: Tuxpi

I've been having so much fun with this free,  photo editing site, (Tuxpi), that I just have to share it with you.  My friend, Geri, over at My Heart Art, is an amazing artist who specializes in digital work.  If you've never been to her blog, I suggest you check it our pronto!  Each one of Geri's posts is filled with helpful techniques and great website links as well as her creative artwork.

One of the last links that Geri shared is  You can do incredible things with your artwork and photographs, and the best part of it all - it's FREE!

The first image I decided to play with was the easter egg artwork from my Weekend Journal post.  After a few adjustments (sorry - I neglected to write down which effects I used), I ended up with this image from the original PDF.

Tuxpi edited image

Original artwork

I had a PDF of the original sketch of my Easter eggs, so I also played with that in Tuxpi.  As I recall, I used the kaleidoscope effect and adjusted the color and saturation.  I also cropped the original image.

Tuxpi edit

Original image
Remember this journal spread from a couple weeks ago?  I simply added the Heatmap Photo Effect without making any other adjustments.  I love the way it looks!

Original image

Original image with Heatmap Photo Effect

And, of course, you KNOW there's no way I'm not going to play with an image of Angelia!  I love seeing myself with Photo film, Stardust and set to infinity!  

"Angelia - Infinity and Beyond"!!!
Angelia original image
So there you have it.  This is just a minute sampling of all the fun you can have with this free program.  No program is more user friendly than Tuxpi, and it's quite easy to download your finished images into your computer.  Thanks for the tip, Geri!   Now - grab your images and imagination and have some fun!  

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Weekend Journal

I've got something really great to share with you today.  Several weeks ago, I was contacted by Max at  / Pocketchange to see if I might be interested in Angelia's Art Journals being featured in their "Best of the Web" series.  Well, I hadn't heard of the site before, so I took the time to check it out.

To sum up my experience in a word, "Wow"!  It took me all of five minutes to find a fantastic shopping site.  I would have probably looked for more but I was totally engaged in what I stumbled upon.  And when I looked through the previous blogs that have been featured, I found some really great reading!

I'm honored that Max wanted to feature my blog, and it is part of the "Best of the Web No 59".  You can view it by clicking this link.  Be sure to get comfy with your favorite beverage and comfortable chair because there are lots of great sites linked from this versatile website, for your viewing pleasure!  Be sure to check out the past "Best of the Web" posts.  I've already found some great new blogs.

Another great feature to check out is the "TIPS" section.  I'm sure you'll find something of interest and maybe even learn something new along the way.  

For those of you traveling and/or celebrating Easter, may your journey be safe and your time be filled with all the good things you've anticipated.  As for me, I couldn't be happier.  My son, Mike, and his girlfriend, Nadia, arrived this morning  from CA.  They will be here for the entire week, and the whole family is together now.  My heart is full.  Life just doesn't get any better than this.


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Tuesday Tips and Techniques: Get Out of the House!

I'm the first one to admit that I've become a homebody.  Somewhere in the recesses of my mind, I've taken Dorothy to heart; "There's no place like home."  I like walking around the house in paint covered, sloppy clothes.  I like not wearing a bra.  I like having my coffee and laptop readily at my disposal.  I like my own company.  I like meandering around my yard.  I like all the comforts of home.

Spectacular color on this pansy!

I think modern day living makes it easy to become isolated - especially when one has the luxury of working from home.  With the click of a mouse, I can be be (virtually) anywhere in the world I choose, learning and/or watching and listening to anything my little heart desires.  

A stormy sky at dawn

The thing is, "real" life evolves around us as we sit hunched over the keyboard, in front of the easel or buried in a journal.  As we become engrossed in our own thoughts and ideas, we miss the beauty and wonder of the outdoors as well as the interaction and unique perspectives of other people.

Keynote Speaker for the annual Lakeland Community College Woman of Achievment Award ceremony,
Ohio State Senator, Nina Turner.  (And an awesome talk it was!)

Let's face it - a stagnant life leads to stagnant art.  Stagnant art is boring art.  To paraphrase Julia Cameron from the book, The Artist's Way, we have to "feed the well" (of creativity).  We need fresh ideas and new experiences in which to fill the well that is the source of our creativity.  We need the interaction with people and nature.

Woman of Achievement 2012 recipient, (and my adoptive Mom!),
Tina Bishop

Go exploring in a local park, the woods, or the beach.  Take a stroll through the city where you usually only travel by car or other transportation. Take a camera.  Notice architectural details and surface textures.  Take note of creative endeavors made by others.

A pyramid sculpture on the beach at Headlands State Park

Really look at the beauty and mystique of the things you walk past every day.  (If you're lucky, you may even find some new treasures!).

Large pieces of beach glass collected by Keith and me.

So get out of the house.  Get out of the studio.  Get out of your rut.  Go outside and get some fresh air and some new inspiration for your creative well.

A little blurry, but this is a praying mantis cocoon waiting to hatch (soon!) in our  forsythia bushes

Go outside in the early morning and listen to the birds.  Go outside after dark and look up at the sky.  We live on a pretty spectacular planet with some pretty amazing people.  Get out of the house and have an adventure!

Did you see the great allighnments of the moon,  Jupiter and Venus this past month?
Photo:  Keith Thompson

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