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Life Book Week 6

Hi ho friends.

Life Book Week 6 is a main lesson with Tam.  I love Tam and her videos, but there were 2 hours of video and I had to get my household chores done in preparation for Noir City 2018 the following week, so my time was limited.  I watched her intro video and about half of the first video and got an idea.

I wanted to work with Dylusions sprays and more of the textured stencil designs.  I used London Blue and Bubble Gum pink.  Once the inks were dry, I pushed some modeling paste through the doily-flower stencil and some heavy gel through the smaller flower stencil. I let the gels dry overnight.

When I came back the next day, I found the inks had reactivated a bit with the modelling paste and partially colored the paste.  I really liked how some of the paste was colored and some wasn’t, giving me some contrast. I added a bit more of the blue and pink sprays and added my gal. I hadn’t made a 3/4 face in a while, so it was a nice refresher.

I’m pretty happy with these pages.

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Life Book Week 3

Hi ho, friends.

Life Book Week 3’s teacher was Ivy Newport, a new teacher to Life Book.  This was another lesson where I read through the handout and took inspiration from Ivy’s art. I was

On this page, I’m still trying to integrate a more assemblage style into the week’s lesson. I really liked using the collaged eyes and hands with my drawn gal. The pages are a bit busy, but, it’s a process.

For these pages, I used some Cricut die cuts, various confetti from my Planner Society stash and some flowers I cut out from heavy scrapbook paper. The background was a light wash of Deco Arts lavendar paint. I also used one of Dyan Reaveley’s background stamps.

Overall, I’m pretty happy with these pages. What I like about Life Book is that it makes it easy to give myself permission to experiment.  I find when I just work on art journal pages that I tend to get into a “make it perfect” mindset.  I feel much more playful and loose when I work on Life Book lessons.

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Life Book Week 2

Hi ho friends,

Week 2’s Life Book teacher was Andrea Gomoll.  She’s been a teacher on Life Book before and Ever After.  I love how she works with watercolors, deepening the colors further than I thought possible.  Her technique requires quite a bit of patience to letting layers dry then adding layer after layer of color.

My time for watching the lesson videos has been limited since the beginning of the year, so I’ve been reading the class handouts and letting my muse run.

The first layer of the background was with my pan watercolors. Once it was dry, I used one of the butterflies are from Laporte’s stencil set.  I pushed heavy gel medium through the stencils, hoping to get a resist effect.  Once the gel was dry, I added 2 addition watercolor layers.

The resist effect didn’t work as well as I’d hoped, so I rubbed silver Lumiere paint over the top of the gel.  The contrast of the pages was too low for my taste, so I added the stamps with black Archival ink.

When I get the chance, I’d like to revisit the gel resist technique.

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Photo Manipulation Class

Hi ho friends.

I’m a big fan of the Stampington & Co. publications.  Digital Inspirations has been particularly, well, inspirational, but I’ve been having trouble getting my digital collages to manifest the way I see them in my brain.

I recently saw an ad somewhere on the Stampington website about Sebastian Michael’s Photoshop Artistry course.  I’d checked it out once before but the price was a tad too steep for me (about $500), but the day I checked it out (3/5/18), there was a special deal: the class, with lifetime access, for $127.  Sweet! Here’s the link, in case you’re interested – I didn’t see an expiration date, but I’m sure it won’t last.

As you may know from previous posts, I’m using the Gimp for my photo manipulation. I know there is some overlap between the two programs but I don’t really know how much. However, I figured the bonus material alone (and there is so much!) are worth the price of the class.

I’ve only watched 3 videos, about 1 hour’s worth but oh man!  I learned so much about the layer filters and using layer masks.

Rather than continue through the coursework, I spent some time tonight applying a handful of concepts. I made 5 digital collages.

These 2 are my favorites:



Ginger, the featured doll, is an Elfdoll Soah, with company standard faceup.  It was recently the anniversary of when I adopted Ging, in 2009. Ging was made in 2005 and I’m her 3rd owner.  As for the street samurai, that is her character in an illustrated story I’m working on.


The second piece is part of an art journal page. I liked the way the figure turned out, but the text and doodles on the page detracted from the gal. I’d like her to be more saturated. Her layer is set to normal but the other layers are somehow softening her.  There’s plenty to learn about working with layers; I expect to come back to this piece and work on it until I get the gal just the way I want her.

This class is going to really help me create this project.

Stay tuned for more about this class and the story.

Happy creating!

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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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Ever After WIP

Hi ho lovlies.

I had mixed feelings to take Tamara Laporte’s latest live class: Ever After Module 2. I’ve never been particularly interested in fairy tales, at least the Disney version – where women are weak and need rescuing by a man. But I couldn’t resist between the teachers and the deep dive into style development.

It’s a 3 month class, with guest artists and using fairy tales as the inspiration, as you might guess from the class title. Tam offered 2 options: Module 1 is the lessons. Module 2 is more in-depth with artist interviews and explorations of how to take what you learn and develop your own style.

After finishing the 2nd lesson, Beauty & the Beast, my work load increased and resulted in exacerbating an injury to my right thumb.  A co-worker quit and her work was added to mine, followed by an announcement a couple weeks ago, that the company I work for has put a hold on hiring while they examine all the open positions. The injury has put quite a damper on my art-making, as I’m predominantly right-handed.  I can do some art-making left-handed, but not detailed work.

It’s disappointing, to say the least, but I have managed to, slowly for me, work through the first 3 lessons: The Little Mermaid with Tam, Beauty and the Beast with Andrea Gomoll, and Snow White with Anna Hamman. Three very different art styles.  All three pieces follow the composition and much of the art style of the teachers.  My own style is in flux right now, but I feel comfortable enough with mixed media art-making to stray somewhat from the instructor when I feel compelled to do so. For these three lessons, I don’t follow the teacher’s techniques to the letter but I do try some new things.

All of the class work is done in my Red Monkey art class journal. It’s 9×12 Leuchterm journal.  Using this journal is a reminder to me that I need to be careful about scanning and selling prints because many of the pages are based on the teacher compositions. When I get ideas from the class, I make a new painting on different paper or on canvas.  Just to keep things kosher, you know.

First up, The Little Mermaid with Tam.  I think by now you know how much I love Tam and her lessons.  In this painting, Tam wanted to empower the Little Mermaid by surrounding her with her friend, the octopus. The seahorse represents love, cuz you know, the male seahorses carry the baby seahorses and the stars represent her sisters. One of Tam’s techniques that I still play with is using graphite for shading – I used it in this piece and have to admit that it’s growing on me.


Beauty and the Beast, with Andrea Gomoll. I was surprised to learn that her piece was done with layers and layers of watercolors. The colors are so vibrant in her piece.  I don’t own a set of proper watercolors, so I used Neocolors for my version. I strayed a little, but not much. I like Andrea’s style, but it is too stylized for me, so I replicated her composition with the supplies I had on hand.


Snow White with Anna Hamman.  I was not familiar with Anna’s work when I watched this lesson. I have to admit that I was quite intimidated by this one. She worked almost exclusively in acrylics, with a pencil drawing to start.  She mixed her own black from the primary colors. I didn’t like my first version very much. I used Neocolor 2s with my Montana marker in Shock White to set the Neocolor.  The Montana paint dries to a gloss finish that I didn’t like.  I felt it made my girl look very plastic.

I made a second that I do like, even though I didn’t “finish” it with the trees.  I felt like I got what I wanted out of the lesson. While working on the first version, this time using black Neocolor 2 with gesso (I use Liquitex). I like the result much more.  I may finish the page someday, but I kind of like her the way she is.  A clue that my style is changing – as you know, I’ve been a card-carrying page filler. There’s just something striking about her against the mostly empty background.


Part of the reason I stopped working on the 2nd version was I had an idea for a larger painting. Anna’s Snow White was painted on a large (probably 15″x22″) watercolor paper.  I took out a piece of 15×22 Canson 140 lb watercolor paper. I flipped through the latest copy of Porter, my current fave fashion magazine and found a photo of a gal with her hands on her head, looking directly into the camera. I sketched her in my own style and replaced the fooferah complicated boho-style outfit the model is wearing with a tee shirt, mixed my own black using Blick Studio acrylics – a sample of their primary colors that I won the last time I was there and started working. As I was working along, the song “Know Your Rights” by The Clash popped into my head, so I wrote that on her tee shirt.

Up to now, my art has been decidedly escapist.  Mermaids, unicorns, doodly flowers, young girly girls and women.  I’ve had a craving lately to work toward art that provokes a response, makes a statement, creates discussion. I think Miss Right continues along the path I headed down with Zeus’ Women.


Bubbling under the surface is the upcoming Presidential election.  To be honest, I dislike both candidates. Third party candidates get next to no press in favor of sensationalist sound bites of candidate name-calling.  I feel held hostage by the US political machine. One comes across as a 1930s facist tyrant and the other shrilly shouts at the media. It’s a choice between the lesser of two evils, when, in fact, the people don’t elect the President. The Electoral College may or may not take the popular vote into consideration. I’d like to see the US adopt the campaign strategy of Canada: you get 36 days prior to the election to make your point. That’s unlikely to happen because politics is big business, corporations are people, blah, blah, blah.  And that’s why my art leans escapist. The Real World is just so….icky.

Yet, Miss Rights appeared.  She is still a work in progress.  I haven’t done a lot of strictly acrylic paining, so I didn’t know how much of my black I need to mix. I mixed a small batch and had to mix additional batches, each one different.  Then I tried using black out of the tube, on her face. which is when I stopped.  I could see the how interesting it was to mix my own color – it creates an interesting depth you don’t get with black and white out of the tube. Also, my hand was getting sore from the painting.

Perhaps I have something to say about the world other than unicorns, mermaids and Mori Girls.

No one is more surprised than I.

Go forth, stretch your wings and speak your truth, my lovelies.  I’m cheering for you.

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Weeks 31-34

Hi ho, my lovelies.

I thought by grouping my LIfe Book posts, I’d discipline myself to post more frequently and cover more artistic ground.  Not so much.

Ah well, try, try again, right?

Today’s post is Life Book 2015 Weeks 31-34.

Week 31 Hamsa Protection with Rachel Rice

Week 32 You are Wise with Tam

Week 33 – haven’t started this lesson

Week 34 Painting the Muse with Alena Hennessy


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Weeks 26-30

Week 26. Inner Warrior Princess with Andrea Gomoll. I’ve been a tad obsessed with creating a Klimt-inspired Pallas Athena since I took Tam’s Magical Mythical Makings class.  I’ve sketched a number of variations and tried again when this lesson came up. Klimt’s Athena was a bust portrait with her in a helmet. That’s a tad complicated for my skillset, so I propped her helmet on top of her head. I doubt Athena was a ginger. As you know, I have a thing for gingers, so mine is. Owls are often seen with her and she is the goddess of the arts, among other things. The text is ancient Greek and the very loose translation is “be fearless.” A little influence from Kelly Rae Robert’s Mantra class.  I had some trouble with the shading, but I think I could go back and tone it down by doing more work on the Neocolor/white acrylic technique that Tam teaches. I was trying to do this with Gelatos and Inktense pencils, but as mentioned in the previous Life Book lesson post, this paper is not good with wet media.

Week 27 was an artist interview. Week 28. Layers of You with Tam. Paint over collage. Rather than use a selfie, I used some Vogue magazines. At this point, of course, I’ve lost track of the number of Tam classes, I’ve taken, so I feel quite comfy running with the technique and doing the pages my way. I like to swim, so my inner me is a Naomi Watts mermaid. Obviously.

Week 29. Tiny Story telling with Danielle Donaldson. My hands have recently been pain-free, so I’m hesitant to spend a lot of my art time with fussy-cutting elements. In fact, I haven’t put this lil gal in my official journal. She is in my Moleskin watercolor journal. But, she’s so adorbs, I had to paint her and give her a little phrase and include her here.

Week 30 with Flora Bowley. I enjoyed Flora’s lesson last year, but I still struggle with the free-form, intuitive painting style.  Ideas come to me while I’m watching the video. I painted 2 pages and this is the one that came out. The other one is waiting to be finished. This one, Serene, was one of the ideas I had.  Of course, the idea of having a plan is contrary to Flora’s style, but it was an urge and I followed it. I’m grateful that Flora included a real-time bonus video – I watched it twice and will go back to this technique to try and wrap my art brain around it.   Perhaps that is what the other page is waiting for – unplanned inspriation.

After spending Saturday on Flora’s intuitive lesson, I needed to get back to familiar ground. I worked on Week 2 of Tam’s Fabulous Faces class, so you have those pages to look forward to.

In the meantime: fly, be free, my lovelies.

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I have been a fan of Kelly Rae Roberts’ mixed media art for a while. Last week, in honor of her 40th birthday, she offered her Instagram followers a special price for her self-study course, “Hello Soul, Hello Mixed Media.”

Naturally, I couldn’t pass that up.

This is a rather long post because I share the class project, a class review, and a minimum supply list.

I spent the past 2 weekends working through the lessons.  Once again, I’m so grateful for Effy Wild’s Ultimate Class Notebook and I have completely adopted her method of watching the videos first and taking notes before diving in.

This class really pushed my boundaries because it requires you to really let go and play and at the very end, bring the piece together.

Joining Kelly Rae for this course is Lynzee Lynx. For a bit of synchronicity, Lynzee taught a Life Book lesson on making your own stencils and I really enjoyed her lesson. Lynzee was playing the role of a class student.  This is not her particular style so she was way out of her comfort zone and a stroke of genius for Kelly Rae to include Lynzee in this class.

One of the things I’ve struggled with is incorporating words into my art.  Part 1 of the class is about digging deep and developing your mantras.  Part 2 is a ton of techniques for backgrounds.  I had a bit of an art orgy and made a bunch of canvases. My friend Marva gave me a bunch of canvases when she moved recently, and I used most of them to make this pretty mess on my studio floor:

a plethora of canvases

The background-making stage is a lot of fun: alternating different acrylic paint techniques and collage.  This method is totally in my style because it’s all about filling the space with mixed media goodness.  The pulling it all together stage of Lesson 3 was a bit tougher.  Even though this project was in my area of art-making, it was a challenge to stay loose and in the moment.  Also, I am drawn to dark colors, so I had to lighten areas up quite a bit to create contrast.

I chose “Trust Your Inner Voice” because I had to let go and trust the process to get this piece done. While watching the class video on bringing in the focal image, I thought of the Bear I made for Juliette Crane’s lesson, Week 13 in Life Book.  I traced the Bear and glued him down then re-painted him. In Native American lore, bears represent, among other things, bravery and your hidden strength, which was appropriate to the lesson.  The butterfly wings were part of the following joy and intuition.  A bear with wings just makes me happy. I’m pretty pleased with the finished piece, although looking now at the photo, I think the horizon has gotten lost and whatever I decide to do with it will probably be the contrast I feel is missing.

Review of the Class

As a teacher, Kelly Rae is terrific. You feel like she’s there with you, she has a friendly teaching style.She and Lynzee work well together.  Kelly Rae is the first teacher I’ve taken a class from who has no formal art training. This makes her teaching style accessible to beginners because she isn’t trained, she just loves to make art and it shows in her lessons and in her work. You see the art being made before your eyes, in (mostly) real time.

My complaints with the class are minor: 1) you can’t download the videos. I understand teachers do that as a measure of control over their content and I respect that; and 2) you have 6 months to access the lessons. I’ve been spoiled by teachers who offer a year or forever to access lessons. Limited access is the reason I soaked the class in over 2 weekends. I wanted to make sure I could watch, take notes, and get through the material at least once and still have time to re-watch any of the demos.

The price of this class is $247, and Kelly Rae offers a 2 payment installment plan.  That sounds like a lot of money, but there are so many lessons (50?), a ton of information, mixed media techniques, and pdf handouts. With the limited access, I suggest you watch the lessons and take notes before you start. At the very least, watch the demos and make a list of the techniques to refer back to later. The price is comparable to Jane Davenport classes. If you can only take one class this year, splurge on this one because it’s suitable for any level and you’ll have a painting to hang up at the end of class. If you’re more experienced, this class will shake things up, while letting you create in your style.

A beginner with minimal drawing or painting skills can succeed in this course.  If you can doodle, glue stuff down, and finger paint, you can rock this class. As for supplies, I think you could make a very successful first piece with a minimum investment in supplies. My minimum list is below.

If you’re interested in taking the class, you may sign up here:  Hello Soul, Hello Mantra. Of all the mixed media classes I’ve taken, I think this is one of the best class for a true beginner because you can make a beautiful piece without the ability to draw faces, figures or whimsical creatures.  Full disclosure: I am a Kelly Rae Roberts’ affiliate, so if you sign up by following the above link, I get a little something in return from Kelly Rae, which I’ll no doubt use for art supplies, so I appreciate your support!

Minimum Supply List

If you’re completely new to mixed media or you have non-acrylic paint supplies, here is my suggested minimum and least expensive supply list:  large (9″x12″ minimum, really, this style is easier and more fun on a big scale) canvas board, regular gel medium gloss (gloss is vital), 2 or 3 colors you are drawn to, black and white heavy body (tube) acrylics, small paint brushes for doodling and writing, collage paper, a spray bottle, tools you can find around the house.

The cheaptest paint option is to purchase is DecoArt Crafter’s Acrylic.If you have a bit more to spend on paint or you just want more paint, I suggest Amsterdam heavy body acrylics. The paint itself is nice and the price per tube is good. You can water down heavy body acrylics to achieve the wetter techniques in this class.

For colors, I suggest you include a mix of warm (yellow/red) and cool (blue/green) colors. This will give you more color flexibility.  If you’re drawn to neon (and who isn’t?), I suggest 1 neon because they tend to be less opaque than non-neon colors, which makes them good to layer but they get lost pretty easily as the layers increase.

You can make your own acrylic spray inks with whatever paint you have using 2 ounce spray bottles you can pick up in any drug store for less than a buck. You may download my pdf instructions for backgrounds and making spray inks – scroll to the bottom of this page for the link.

My next steps

I am excited to try more pieces using Kelly Rae’s techniques, incorporate words more routinely in my art.  I’m also curious to find out what would happen if I use different art supplies, substrates.  How will I have to adjust the techniques to use, for example, Neo Color II crayons? I’m very interested in making a piece in all water-based supplies. What would a page in this style look like in my art journal?

I want to find out and think Kelly Rae would grant me permission.

Trust your inner voice.

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Life Book Weeks 18-21

Week 18 was 2 bonus lessons; I did the 2nd lesson with Kristin Van Valkenburgh. I used fiber paste, stencils, acrylics, Dina Wakely scribble bird stamp, washi tape, Shiva oil pastels, collage, and more. It’s a many layer piece that the photo doesn’t do justice to.


Week 19 was with Jessica Swift. This was a personal art journal pair of pages, so I’m sharing a closeup.


Week 20 was with Jenny Doh. A very free, expressive lesson, which is harder to do than it looks. The background was done with fluid acrylics and acrylic inks. The angel was drawn with Prisma and Stabilo All pencils.


Week 21 was another 2 bonus lesson week with the very fun Lynn Whipple and painting an apple with Tam. At this point, I’m caught up with the lessons, so I did both.


This is another more personal journal page, so it’s another close-up.


While watching Tam’s How to Paint an Apple lesson, I had the urge to do a mixed media on wrapped canvas. The apple I chose as a model was an odd shaped one, and I spent a lot of time working on this painting. I like the way it turned out. Might take it to my new office.

Next up includes 2 lessons I am very excited about. I just finished the lesson with Jeanne Oliver and Tam’s lesson on drawing a male, front-facing portrait. You can see my first sketch for the lesson here.We have 2 movies left for SIFF 2015 and then, it’s a photo field trip to try out my new wide angle lens, so stay tuned and thanks for stopping by.