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Chin Up, Buttercup

Hello my lovelies. We are finally experiencing the weather I love: the grey, damp windy days of fall, after the leaves have turned and the air smells like a combination of rain, pretty leaves, and those tree berries that the birds love so much.  Cheerful decay, I call it.

When I turned 40, I had a bit of a freakout.  Forty!  Good lord, I never thought I’d hit 40. When I was a kid, 40 seems so old – it might as well have been 900.  Anyway, one day at work, I was freaking out about it with a coworker and she said, “Oh, honey, 40 is nothing.  Wait until you hit 50, then your body starts to fall apart.” That was soothing for 10 years. I hit 50 this year. Perhaps it was the seed she planted or the fact I’ve had a desk job for the past 23 year years, but physically, 50 has, well, sucked. Bilateral carpal tunnel surgery, 6 months of physical therapy for ridic feet problems, random chronic pain, perimenopausal symptoms including migraines on top of the already too many headaches. But we just have to plow through, don’t we?  I am very grateful for art journaling and all these art classes.  It takes me to a happier place, where I forget the physical pain for a while.

It has been pointed out to me a few times, that the dolls I own look slightly sad, although I have a few smiling dolls, but they’re more Mona Lisa than Barbie.  I’ve recently noticed that applies to my art. Many of my girl faces lean toward the world-weary, yet hopeful.

Paging Dr. Freud…white courtesy phone, please.

I’m experiencing some class crossover lately. In a neat bit of synchronicity, Jane’s lesson for Radiant Faces and Week 4 of Mermaid Circus feature a chin-up face.  I got to the Radiant Face lesson first. Not only was that face up slightly turned up but also 3/4 face.  This lesson was about how Jane creates work inspired by her favorite paintings.  It was a lot of work and a bit intimidating, both with technique and painting-focused work. It took me many sketches and 3/4 chin up drawings.  Here’s my girl.  She’s grown on me but there are parts that didn’t work as planned.  However, that’s what art journaling is all about: experimentation.

Radiant Face girl was done in my Canson sketch journal, which is not so suited to this type of work. The pages tend to ripple in an unattractive manner near the binding.  The work was done with acrylic paints of various formats, Prismacolor pencils, alcohol markers, distress stain, and color copies of my own art journal pages.

Payne’s Grey is my new favorite color.


Within a week of finishing my Radiant Face above, I got to Week 4 of Mermaid circus. While I have been checking out everyone’s work on the class Facebook page. I noticed a lot of chin up girls, but hadn’t put it together with week 4.  Anyway, I couldn’t have been more pleased. I’d been working for the past 2 or possibly 3 weeks on these 3/4 chin up faces, so a front-facing chin up girl would be a snap!

This mermie was also done in my Canson Sketch book.  I love how these pages turned out.  It’s got the ethereal defiant sadness and I feel her face is a bit more successfully executed than Radiant Face Girl.

Many of my journal pages are started then set aside for a while I figure out where the rest of the page is going.  When I got her face to done, an idea came to me to put her tail on the other page and not worry about getting the rest of her torso in the way, making it look like she’s changing direction and heading up to the surface.

Her face was done with acrylic paint, with colored pencils. The rest was done with distress stain, colored pencils, acrylic markers, gel pens, and Pitt pens.


The takeaway message for me: thank goodness for art classes and art journaling.  I started this art journey because I needed a creative outlet when I was doctor-ordered to set aside my crafts.  I expected to improve, technically, through practice.  The unexpected benefit has been how the art is helping through the absurdities of middle age. That doesn’t mean I don’t have bad days, I have plenty. I’m so grateful to have a creative outlet to help me through.

I’d love to hear what your outlet is.

Thanks for stopping by.

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Life Book Week 41 Moon Whale

This week’s Life Book lesson is with Tam.  One of the benefits of taking 3 classes at once is that I can work on the lessons for each. When one piece reaches a stage where it needs to dry, I can work on another piece.  Today,I finished the Life Book piece, started my Nymph for Radiant Faces, and started a whale-inspired page in my Mermaid shaped journal.

I did not do the internal exploration part of the lesson, which was about celebration.  For no reason other than I kept thinking about the whale from “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.”  A scene I found hi-larious as a teenager.  As a middle-aged woman, I see it as a metaphor for life: you appear, try to figure stuff out, then deceleration trauma.

I used just about all the formats of acrylics in my stash, plus Pitt Pens, and fiber paste, which I pressed through a stencil on the moon.

I liked the space aspect of Tam’s piece as well as the tiny wings, so I kept those just so the whole whale hurtling to its death is left to me and, well, now you. Enjoy!

I really love the way this turned out.  I’ve had dark whimsy on my mind for a while and this would be my first foray into that area. It’s not in your face dark whimsy. Does it count as dark whimsy if you haven’t read this blog or asked me what the inspiration was?

Tomorrow, I hope to make progress on my Nymph because I’d like to work on Effy’s version.

We’ll see how that goes.

Stayed tuned and thanks for reading.


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Mermaid Circus Week 1

My art classes for this fall are rather ambitious: the last 3 months of Life Book 2014; Mermaid Circus, and Radiant Faces. This post focuses on Mermaid Circus. I see I’ve posted out of sequence, but that’s because I’m jumping around with these classes.

This is a “live” class, runs 8 weeks, taught by Jane Davenport and Teesha Moore. You probably already know that I’m Jane Davenport class junkie. I have been in love with Teesha Moore’s work since before I knew who she was.  I own several of her Zetiology line of rubber stamps, from back in my stamping days and have seen her collage works for many years.

This class was offered about this time last fall, but I was too chicken to take it, feeling that my newbie mixed media skills were not up it. The lesson there: don’t listen to that inner critic so the next time I see a class I want to take, I won’t let my inner critic stop me. My wallet, yes. Lack of time…maybe.

Lesson 1 was a Teesha Moore-style collage.  My version is Sea Urchin Herding Mermaid.


As you can see, I went a tad nuts. But, hey, it’s my first one in this style. It’s how I roll. I love this style of collage so much and have continued to work on it and merge it into my style, whatever that is…

In addition to working on pages in this journal, I made the mermaid shaped book from watercolor paper. This is a very fun class. Half the fun of taking these classes is seeing how everyone takes each lesson and makes it their own.

There are all levels of artists in all three classes.  Everyone has been wonderful and supportive, teachers and students alike.