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WIP Mermaid painting 1

Hi ho art friends.

Today’s post is about a work-in-progress, although I’ve been working on this one for a rather long time.  It’s probably been in progress for over a year, along with 2 other mermie portraits.


I like her enough to keep working, but the painting hasn’t come together yet. I thought by posting about it, some idea might spark. Or, I’d be motivated to keep going in order to provide updates.

Or, I might paint over it.  That was something I hadn’t done in the past, but with my recent love of Finnabair’s style – which at it’s heart involves many gesso layers to tone down background elements in order to bring focus to the central image.

I know I’m a page-filler but I look at my work and wonder what is the subject? What I really love about her work is the complex imagery. I don’t feel lost looking at the details because she’s given the eye places to rest. I’m hoping that by exploring Finnabair’s world, I will find focus in my own work.

Stayed tuned for more on this mermie.  Someday, the poor dear will have a name.

Happy creating!

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Don’t take yourself too seriously

Hi ho friends,

For the past month or so, I’ve been enamored with Finnabair’s style of mixed media portraits. They are a combination of portrait and assemblage art.  Anna was one of the Life Book 2014 teachers and I loved her lesson, but never felt like I successfully made it my own.  Check out her blog. This style is totally up my alley – the image is complex yet focused.

Quite unlike my usual work.  Today’s post exemplifies where my pages tend to stop:


The next stage should be a layer of gesso to knock back some of the background in order to bring forward the main figure. These pages were made for fun, in other words, not as part of a class. It’s a small, hardbound journal.  Looking at this photo reminds me how much I like working small.  You’re forced to define your composition.

Inspired by Finnabair’s work, I’ve been picking up some of my previous works and adding new layers, trying to find the focal image.

It’s a work in progress, but I know I’ll be happier with my pieces once I get this down. but that’s the way with style isn’t it?  You keep fine-tuning. Just when you think you’re there, you learn something new. Or your taste changes.

How is your style evolving? Leave a comment. I’d love to discuss style with you.

Happy arting!

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Glamour girl

Hi ho friends.

Today’s post features one of my oldest art journal pages from Draw Happy, one of the first online art classes I took with Jane Davenport.  Actually, it may have been my first online class. Honestly, I don’t recall – I’ve taken so many classes. This glass is one of my first mixed media portraits as well. I used Prismacolor pencils and alcohol markers.  The funny thing is, I really like my early drawings.  They have a kind of primitive style that appeals to me.  I keep trying to deliberately get this type of look in my work.

I have noticed a few changes to my faces since then: I have lowered the eyes to the middle of the head; the eyes are a bit smaller; and I moved the nose up toward the eyes – closer to where the nose actually falls on the head. I don’t shadow as deeply.

Some of the aspects I’ve kept include: a deep side part in the hair, which is inspired by women’s hairstyle from the 30s and 40s; I’ve kept the nose minimal; the shadows on the face are shallow; one eye is a bit cockeyed; and I don’t use a single light source. In fact, I’m not really interested in the light source.

Which is a bit ironic because I was a theatrical lighting designer, a long time ago.  Lack of a focal light source is part of the look of my work. Combined with the direct gaze of the portrait enhances the disturbing aspect of my work.  Many of portraits gaze directly at the viewer. A sort of artistic standoff.  Who will look away first?

It ain’t gonna be the painting, my friend.

What little things comprise your style?  If you haven’t thought about it, take pictures of your work and look over several pieces.  The things that unify your work will begin to stand out.  When that happens and you see it, you will make your work truly your own.  Leave a comment and link to your latest project. I’ve love to see what you’re up to.

Happy arting!

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LB2018 Lesson 1 Digital

Hi ho friends.

I skipped Tamara Laporte’s Life Book class for a couple of years.  It’s a great class, but I really needed a break in order to incorporate what I was learning.  However, I am ready for the class and joined in 2018.

As always, Week 1 has multiple lessons and LB 2018 is no exception. I am working my class lessons in my 2018 bullet journal, so my pages are quite small.  This morning it dawned on me that when I have time, in addition to the bujo version of the lesson, I will create a digital version.

You see, I found the open source paint program, Krita recently.  It’s created and maintained by artists and it more intuitive than the Gimp. I thought this would be a good excuse to get to know Krita and get a little extra arting in every week.

Today’s post is the first of the LB2018 digital pieces. It is the 2nd time I’ve used Krita but I like that I was able to keep working on the layers until I liked it. Just as one does on paper. The first lesson is Tam’s Gentle Warm-up and I thought it was ideal because it is a free-form mixed media collage/word for the year and no face.


My word for 2018 is healing – I’m 7 months post knee surgery and a few months to go until the other knee is done, so healing is pretty much job 1 around here.

As for using Krita, it is more intuitive than Gimp and when I got stumped, it was easy to find very short, helpful tutorials. I managed to do something cool (the purple circles at the bottom) but I couldn’t replicate it so I have plenty to learn.  I also picked up an additional brush set – the default set is a bit limited, but not to worry, there are a lot of artists out there who share their brush sets.

If you’re interested in checking out Krita, there are versions for all operating systems and it’s free, so you don’t really have an excuse, huh? I picked up the additional brush set from David Revoy, also for free. David includes good instructions for downloading and importing his brush set into Krita.

What’s new for you in 2018?  Leave me a comment and a link – I’ll stop by and see what you’re up to.

Happy arting!


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Frolicaholic background

Hi ho friends.

The art journal review continues with a background page I made for one of my first online art classes with Jane Davenport: Draw Happy.  This is the class she recommends as the starting point for newbies and it eases you into drawing with art journals, doodles and very simple faces.  I believe I made this page using homemade acrylic paint sprays, Distress Ink, and markers.  My art supplies were limited at the time.  The art journal was one of the Teesha Amazing 16 page art journals.

To be honest, I haven’t seen the actual art journal in a while so I’m not sure that I ever finished this page.  That’s the great thing about art journals – they are never really finished. I like making background pages, stashing the art journal and then digging it out years later to work on it again.

My backgrounds have progressed quite a bit from the early days.  I’ve learned so much. In fact, one of my favorite ways to start a background is to take an alcohol marker, like a Copic, and doodle.  Any color marker, it doesn’t matter. Then paint or spray ink over it.  The alcohol marker keeps floating to the top.  Well, technically, the alcohol is breaking down the acrylics or water-based materials.  The same is true if you use Alcohol inks, such as Ranger alcohol inks, only you can get a more droppy and spattering effect, especially if you spray water on your page before you drop ink on it.  Try it, it’s fun!

What’s one of your favorite background techniques? Leave a comment and a link and I’ll stop by and check it out.

Happy arting.

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Chin up, buttercup

Hi ho friends.

The online art journal review continues this week with a 2 page spread from Jane Davenport’s “Express Yourself” class.  What I love about Jane’s style of teaching is that she is not teaching you to draw real life.  You may use photos to inspire a pose or facial expression but the work itself comes from your mind.

I’ve tried drawing real life many times and I don’t enjoy it. There is the internal pressure to make something as realistic as possible. Or perhaps it’s just my Inner Critic nagging me that whatever I draw isn’t real enough.  Whatever the issue, when I started taking Jane’s classes, my drawing finally felt right. It felt like me.  I wasn’t trying to recreate the real world. I was delving into my own inner world.

Chin Up

The text for these two pages is from a Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros’ song “Road to Rock ‘N Roll.” Song lyrics feature regularly as the text in my art journals.

These pages were made primarily with Prismacolor pencils and distress stains. I don’t even think I painted her face with acrylics.  The journal is one of my unknown brand bound hardcover sketchbooks.

What are you working on? Leave a comment and share a link. I’d love to stop by and see what you’re up to.

Happy arting.


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Lobster Strongman

Hi ho friends.

In honor of the end of 2017, I’m reviewing some of my art journals.  I typically take photos as I work on class projects, even though I always post them as I’m working on them. As my mom likes to say, “I only have 2 hands.”

As I was strolling through my Jane Davenport class photos, I found the next 4 posts, working backwards through time.  Today’s post is “Lobster Strongman,” a 2 page art journal spread I made during Jane and Teesha’s live class, Mermaid Circus.

I love Teesha Moore’s art. I never seem to catch Teesha’s live classes, so when Jane Davenport announced a live Mermaid Circus 2 years ago, I jumped on it, even though I was also taking Tam’s year-long Life Book.
I struggled throughout Mermaid Circus trying to make Teesha’s quirky collage style my own.  I feel these two pages are my best effort to date.  I enjoy that it captures both teacher styles: Jane on the left and Teesha on the right.

Every few months I dabble in Teesha-style collage but my page-filling tendencies get the better of me.  I think Teesha’s style is why I also love Dyan Reveley’s work. Dyan was also inspired by Teesha and she has made this type of quirky collage work for her.

It’s only a matter of time before I make it my own – I feel my own style is still evolving. Perhaps it never stops evolving.

How do you incorporate the artists who inspire you in your work?  Leave a comment or link to your current project. I’d love to check it out.

Happy arting!

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Happy New Year!

Hi ho, friends.  If you’ve been a follower for a while, firstly, thank you!  I appreciate your support.  I wish you and your loved ones a joyous new year.

Secondly, I’ve been fiddling with the look and navigation of the site quite a lot.  I realize it’s unsettling for you dears but there was a purpose behind it. In today’s post, I’m going to do a high level overview of selling your own art online and how my experience has driven my latest shop news.

However, before you dive in to any shop, I recommend 1) you take Jenniebellie’s Rock Your Online Shop Class  and 2) follow her advice and start with one item at a time and promote each item properly. I finished this class recently and it was well worth the $40 I spent on the class.  Jenniebellie is a full-time working artist and she actually knows what she’s talking about.

My goal for 2017 was to transition away from Etsy to my own shop here on this website.  My Etsy fees were coming close to equal the cost of upgrading to the Premium account ($99 per year, the price as of today’s post) here on At the height of my Etsy shop, I had just over 60 items for sale.  As a relatively unknown artist with a rather quirky, whimsical style, my Etsy shop did well enough, but it was certainly not at the top of any Etsy seller charts.

Last year, I took a hard look at my stats. Historically, 1/3 of my products sold on Etsy, 1/3 in person and 1/3 at my print on demand shop. My visits and views were higher on Etsy, but that was largely inflated by the teams I was on and weekly posting to promote my work. The type of threads I posted on were: post a new item then favorite the items of the 10 people above you. This meant spending a couple hours a week visiting other people’s shops and favoriting their items.  In the end, that strategy did not yield many sales. Choice of tags was more important to getting found on Etsy searching than what I received from participating in team promotions. In the past year, Etsy made some changes to the forums and teams promotional threads to focus on promoting off-site. This drove my decision to close my Etsy shop and focus on selling from this site.

Print on demand. You can set up shop with minimal costs by setting up a print on demand shop, like Society6. You will need a good camera or scanner plus photo editing software.  Your print options will be determined by the resolution of your images and the time you spend creating versions of your images for the various products. I use Gimp for all my photo processing.  It has virtually the same features as Photoshop and it is free. At Society6, there are no posting or commissions fees; instead you make a small amount per item sold. For most art prints, your take is between $3-10 per print.  Society6 offers a lot of sales, which is why I chose to sell my photographs exclusively on S6 – I simply can’t compete with their regular offers of free worldwide shipping and 20% off everything.

Low-cost shop on While it is possible to sell items using the free or Premium accounts, it is laborious. It can be done on a very small scale and minimal startup costs. By small, I suggest less than 15 items for sale.  You cannot create a shop front, so you are left either making 1 blog post per item for sale or you create a page with links to Paypal. Once you head past 15 items, it become so time-consuming to manage. Furthermore, if you want to have a sale, you have to manually edit your Paypal buttons – there is no way to have offer a discount code, at least that I could find.

Reopen Etsy? I briefly considered re-opening my Etsy shop.  Pros: built-in audience, easy to setup, easy shipping, easy payments, and ability to sell digital products (no instant downloads on the Free and Premium accounts). Cons: limited control over the look and feel of my shop and I would be at the whims of the Etsy owners; any changes to Etsy was automagically pushed out to shops, whether I like the change or not. This means you have to spend time on Etsy teams and the blog in order to keep up to date on the changes.

No matter which platform is chosen, shop promotion is the required to get the word out. As I branched away from promoting my products within Etsy and out on other social media outlets, my stats showed my efforts were paying off. While my shop was active and I was participating on teams, the visits from outside Etsy was overtaking the visits from inside Etsy.

Time. In order to make this a viable side hustle to some day dream of full-time working artist, I need to make the most of my limited time. I am managing this all on my own: making the art, maintaining this site, shop promotion, holding down a full-time job and spending time with Mr. Tenukihandcrafts.

I considered moving to a self-hosted website; however, the Mister would have to provide considerably more tech support.  Website design is just not my thang.  He is a professional internet plumber and the cost of his time would be higher than my upgrading to a Business account.

One of my goals for this site has been consistency. I won’t lie: I have struggled with consistency. Part of that struggle has been spending my time promoting my Etsy site. Recently, I made a log of how I spend my time to find out how much time I can reasonably spend on managing my shop.

Taking all these factors in account, I decided to…

Upgrade this site. Upgrading to the Business account allows me to offer a proper shop. If the forums and woo commerce descriptions are accurate, setting up shop should be easy peasy. There are plenty of details to work out and possibly a theme change – depending on whether or not my current theme supports a shop.

I finally feel like I’m on the right path.  It has been a meandering journey, but I have learned a lot going through all these steps. While my initial Etsy shop was opened 11 years ago on a whim, I have my choices over the past 4 years by making and sticking to a plan for a year and then reviewing the results.

Stay tuned for more newness and (finally!) regular posts.

Happy new year!

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Shop update, December 2017

Hi ho art friends.

As I mentioned before, I love on-line art classes.  I tend to choose classes with lifetime access, which allows me to take the class as time permits.  One of the classes I signed up for a while ago is Jenniebellie’s Rock Your Online Shop ecourse. I downloaded all the workbooks, but never got around to working through it.

Until this month.  There are several reasons I like Jenniebellie’s teaching style: she is honest yet kind; she gives you information and prompts but you have to do the work; and she is successful as an artist.

I have worked through the first lesson, which is about taking stock, on-line shop options, and the like. The piece of advice I’m implementing now, and the reason for today’s post, has to do with having multiple online shops.

I have this blog and a Society6 shop. Society6 has frequent sales and I have been a bit frustrated trying to promote both shops because I was offering the same prints in both shops.

The result of Lesson 1 of Rock Your Online Shop:  original mixed media art and mixed media art prints are for sale on this website; my photographic art prints will be for sale only on my Society6 shop.

The shop on this site is still a work in progress.  It is a Premium account on and we are not allowed to have a shopping cart style shop.  I’ve had to do quite a lot of paypal work and create some one-of blog posts to set up shop here. I’m not completely happy with it, but I’m tweaking here and there. I suspect at some point, I will need to convert to a self-hosted website, but that will involve more work than I am able to put in right now.

What I’m hoping to do, if it’s possible is to have a page on this site with a photo of each art work that you click and are taken to the related blog post to buy the piece of art. Might not be possible or it could be really complicated – I haven’t investigated.

I’ve also created a Pinterest board to show all my current art for sale.

So stayed tune and have a bit of patience with me as I learn my way through this, one step at a time.

Jenniebellie’s class is good so far. I’ll post future updates as I work through it.

Happy arting!


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Minimalist page

Hi ho artsy friends.

I’ve had some trepidation working on some of the pages in my large Dylusions journal because I really love the way the backgrounds turned out.

I was flipping through one my old Somerset Studio magazines recently and was inspired by an article featuring Jodi Ohl’s works.  I love her imagery and wanted to try another minimalist style page.


This page features Dylusions and Distress spray inks, Dyan’s ghosting technique with one of my stencils, black Stabilo All pencil (activated with water) and the fine point Posca white pen. I really like the textures on this page.

You can probably expect to see more minimalist pages…when I manage over surpress the urge to fill every square inch with collage, stamps, doodles, etc.

Happy arting!

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Dragonfly art doll

Hi artsy friends.

I don’t know about you, but I get restless with just making the same kind of art.  I’ve enjoyed making art dolls and picked up a few new patterns recently and started with this doll, Cecily.  I purchased the pdf pattern from the NLH Designs Etsy shop.

Cecily is a steampunk dragonfly art doll, about 16 inches tall.  She is a fairly simple doll, with minimal joints. The instructions are easy to follow and she is pretty quick to sew up.  The stuffing takes a long time and I have to admit that I over-stuffed her a bit and popped a couple of seams in the process, including her filtrum.  Poor thing.  The nose is needlesculpted.


I followed my own face style for painting the face, using Prisma pencils, gel pens, Pitt pens. I didn’t seal her face because, well, I popped the seam. Didn’t seem to be much point, really.

I used faux fur for her hair, that was cut in sections and sewn directly on her head. I made the dragonfly wings, following the instructions but haven’t assembled and attached them yet.

Even with her flaws, I think she’s pretty cute.

I am enjoying this process, but I need to plan ahead when I make the next one.  The sewing and stuffing is rather tough on my hands. I’m going to have to spread the work out over several weekends: cut and sew several heads and bodies; stuff on another weekend; paint faces; assemble dolls; make outfits; make accessories.

I see a box full of soft, art doll body parts in my future.

Once my hands recover and I finish Cecily, I’ll post the final photos.

Happy arting!



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White text obsession

Hi ho art friends.

A while ago, I picked up Danielle Donaldson’s “Creative Girl” book, which started my enchantment with drawing tiny, wonky houses and using a white acrylic pen on dark backgrounds.

It occurred to me that I should try using a white pen on my dark backgrounds.  I queued up several arty youtube videos and my large Dylusions journal, white Posca pens, Intense pencil, and Jane Davenport’s Mermaid pens and created this page.


The page started with doodling along with Molly Hollyberry’s youtube video on Crazy Huggins, a tangle variation of Huggins.

Next. I watched one of Jane Davenport’s youtube videos and I love to art along with Jane and wondered what the Mermaid pens would look like over the white acrylic pen work.

I like the look and contrast achieved with this technique. I’ve been exploring it in my art journal, so you can expect to see more of this.  I also want to incorporate this more in my future works.

Stay tuned and happy arting!