Monday Musings ~ Paperbag Mini Albums

These mini albums are made from lunch sacks – paper bags. I have made more than I can count and given many as gifts over the years. They are time-consuming to make by hand, but so rewarding when you finish.  Mostly they are used as mini photo albumns.

More recently I’ve been using the paper bag mini albums to create wisdom books for friends and family. There are several good tutorials on YouTube, just search for mini albums or paper bag album. I really enjoy Kathy Orta King’s tutorials, so I’ll add a link here.

Paper bag mini album

Paper bag mini album

Inside the mini album

Inside the mini album




Friday Features ~ The Night Owl

Night Owl in acrylic

Night Owl in acrylic

I am a night owl.
We are birds of a feather, solitary and nocturnal.
This night owl appeared to me in a dream years ago.
He is ever watchful perched on a winter oak, illuminated by a full moon.
As he came to life on the canvas I was reminded of his wisdom.

 A wise old owl lived in an oak
The more he saw the less he spoke
The less he spoke the more he heard.
Why can’t we all be like that wise old bird? 
~ English Nursery Rhyme

Monday Musing – Art Class ~ Wild Flowers

flowers in acrylic framed

Flowers in acrylic

I love collaborating with Mother Nature. This acrylic painting was inspired by the echinacea flowers growing in my garden. Echinacea flowers, or the purple flower, have magical and medicinal powers. The painting started as a “seed” in my art journal and found its way onto canvas.  I gave the purple flower a fanciful darker hue contrasted with  a  green background. I threw in a few nightshade berries for balance and visual interest – but don’t be tempted to pluck the berries of the Nightshade plant – they have their own magic – poison.

Nature, as in art, seeks balance; the yin and yang of life. 




Friday Features – Art Journals & Morning Pages

My art journal


New Art Journal

Girl in Art Journal

After retiring  from a career in public service I was excited to reconnect with my passion for the arts. I made a pledge  to create art every day in an art journal for an entire year. I recognized the importance of stretching my creative muscles after years away from my craft. I also wanted to try some new techniques.  These pictures are just a few samples from my art journal.

My 2016 Art Journal Cover

My 2016 Art Journal Cover

I’m also learning the art of creative writing. Starting a blog was suggested as a way to develop a writing practice and I enjoy blogging, but more recently I listened as two of my writer friends discussed the benefit of writing “morning pages”.   I glanced over at my friend’s journal as she shared her morning pages, written in a beautiful lavender script.

I was intrigued, so I researched the practice of morning pages and found a great article in The Guardian I’ll share here. There are a few rules to morning pages as introduced by Julia Cameron, in her book, The Artist’s Way. You’re encouraged to write your morning pages in longhand and you must fill three full-length pages. The effects over time are said to be profound.  Studies have  also shown that there is an organic, emotional connection when writing  longhand with pen and paper that simply doesn’t translate when typing on a computer. I recall an article on this very topic a few months ago in the Huffington Post. If you’re interested you can check out the research here.

I’m going to try my hand at morning pages and report back in a future blog – if you have suggestions or experience with morning pages, please share!

Whatever your creative outlet, I encourage you to stay connected with it in some way whether it’s an art journal, secret diary, morning pages, blogging,  or meditation. Do what works best for you and stretch your creative muscles, keep them limber and flexible.

May you find peace and happiness in those mindful moments when the magic of creative flows from within.

~ Namaste


Monday Musings ~ Paper Arts ~ Exploding Boxes and Ancient Wisdom

Paper Art

I love the organic, tactile quality of working with paper. There’s a connection with nature and the nature lover in me wants to honor the sacred sacrifice of the tree by creating something beautiful. I’m fascinated by what you can create with paper.  Here are a few of my paper creations.

The Exploding Box

The exploding box is a work of art and makes a great gift when filled with notes or treats…

Exploding box made entirely of craft paper

Exploding box made entirely of craft paper

…remove the lid and voilà!

Inside of the exploding box

Inside of the exploding box

When the lid is taken off, the four sides of the box fall away and reveal its contents. In this case, the box was filled with handmade paper flowers and each side had a pocket that held a pull-out note card. I made this box for my mom on Mother’s Day a few years ago. There are so many possibilities with the exploding box, check them out here.

The Wisdom Book

I wanted to create a handmade wisdom book that contained some of my favorite quotes. It is one of my treasures.

Paper Crafted Wisdom Book

Paper Crafted Wisdom Book

It was rather complex to put together, but worth the effort.

Wisdom Book2 Framed

Inside the wisdom book

The wisdom book contains many layers

The wisdom book contains many layers

Hmmm, maybe I should make an exploding box of ancient wisdom! You may be laughing right now…but seriously, the idea just came to me as I write this post. What pearl of wisdom would you include in an exploding box? I’m curious to hear your thoughts.  So please share your favorite quote in comments if you’re so inclined.

For more amazing paper creations, click here.


Friday Features ~ The Art of the Tangle

Elephant in Ink - tangled

Elephant in Ink – tangled

Zentangles 2

Tangles from my art journal

Zentangles 4

Practicing the art of the tangle

Like any artist, there are times I stare at a blank canvas in complete frustration – my mind a tangled mess of ideas with no sense of direction. So I’ve looked for ways to tap into my creative flow and want to share a method that I find especially helpful.

A few years ago I took a class on the “Art of the Tangle”. The method is called Zentangle and is best described as a meditative art form using repetitive patterns to create art. Creating the repetitive patterns requires focus and mindfulness.   I find the process of tangling relaxing because it quiets my mind (no easy task). When my mind is quiet, space is created allowing the flow of creativity. In essence, tangling puts me in the zone.

I know what some of you are thinking…back in the day we called that “doodling” – and I get it, but there’s one major difference. When you find yourself “doodling” on your notepad at work during a meeting – that’s mindlessness. You’re escaping through the repetitive process of doodling – often you’re daydreaming (trust me, I doodled my way through many a meeting). When you “tangle” it’s a mindfulness process – a difference that makes a difference. Tangling requires awareness because you are creating repetitive patterns purposefully, not with random, reckless abandon (that comes later when you get back to that blank canvas!) When you tangle, you end up with something like the elephant in the photo above. Doodling often gets you an “eye roll” from the boss – but hey, day dreaming has its advantages too!

If you’d like to learn more about the art of Zentangling click the link here.

As for the benefits of mindfulness, let me share this infographic I found  down my favorite rabbit hole – Pinterest!

Mindfulness Infograph

Have a great weekend!

Monday Musing – Art & Life Class – Pen, Ink and Passion

The Old Man in Ink

The Old Man in Ink

I drew this picture of the old man in pen and ink several years ago and then lost track of it in one of my art portfolios.  When I happened upon it last year I decided to have it matted and framed. Now it hangs on the wall in my home as a reminder that I once knew how to work in pen and ink.  I loved working in ink, but it’s not a very forgiving medium and requires focus and patience.

“The marvel of the media is how an artist can skillfully use ink to create an image of great immediacy and life, balancing brightness and darkness, density and light, line and tone.” ~ Artist & Illustrators

Recently, I met an artist named Tom at a farmer’s market on Harstene Island in the Pacific Northwest. I was amazed by his work. I purchased the pen and ink print below after talking with him at length about his technique. He explained how every leaf was drawn specifically for the type of tree. It took him nearly a year to create this masterpiece. His enthusiasm was exhilarating. Talking with him and sharing his passion for art  inspired me to refill my inkwell!

Mabry Mill, VA by freehand Artist Tom Nichols

Mabry Mill, VA by freehand Artist Tom Nichols

Tom Nichols, Freehand Art Ink of Mabry Mill, VA

Tom Nichols, Freehand Art
Ink of Mabry Mill, VA

It is a gift, when you share your passion for life, art, whatever your craft, with the world and inspire others. I encourage you to share your passion with the world. Ancient wisdom tells us that what we send out into the world comes back to us – send your passion, your love, your creations out into the world and be ready to receive!

I love this quote:

“Life is an echo. What you send out comes back. What you sow you reap. What you give you get. What you see in others exists in you.”

Be mindful of what you send out into the world and have a fabulous week everyone!

Friday Features ~ Art Class ~ Light and Dark (and a mystic’s musings)

Art Class – Light and Dark

Live model sketched in white pastel

Live model sketched in white pastel

The values of light and dark play an essential role in art and in life. In art class, we were encouraged to “see the light”. We used white pastels on black construction paper and focused our eye where the light fell on the model.

Live model in pastels

Live model in pastels

As we perfected the technique we added color, using black (in this case the black paper) or white to lighten or darken the value of the color.

“”Value refers to the lightness or darkness of a color. It indicates the quantity of light reflected. When referring to pigments, dark values with black added are called “shades” of the given hue name. Light values with white pigment added are called “tints” of the hue name.””  ~Artbox

A Mystic’s Musing

Now, if you will indulge me for a moment, my inner mystic wants to share her perspective on the “value” darkness brings to our human experience. Sadly, I spent too many years fearing the dark, literally and figuratively. But now, when I look back on my life, I recognize the transformative power of the darkness.

In my darkest hours, I have fallen to my knees and had to reach deep within to find my light. Times of suffering and loss can cause us to implode and spiral into a dark abyss, feeling as if we may drown in our sorrow and grief. There have been long stretches of darkness in my life where I wandered aimlessly in search of the light, looking everywhere for the light, only to find that no one, or thing, could save me from the darkness. I had to save myself. It was within the darkness that I found my strength, and realized that I would have to shine my own light to find my way to the other side.

If not for the darkness we would not know the light. 

Having survived the darkness and rekindling my light provided an opportunity for reflection. With reflection came clarity, strength, and growth. I no longer fear the darkness. I do not welcome its approach but I recognize the power it has to teach, transform and strengthen me. I know now that I carry my own light within. It is always available to me. And even when my internal light appears a mere flicker,  I know that if I bring my focus to the present moment, accepting whatever the moment brings, that flicker will ignite and  shine brightly, guiding me out of the darkness.

My inner mystic often reminds me, look within, be still, focus, be grateful for this life and know that you are loved”.  That last part, “know that you are loved” – those are powerful, transformative words – more to come on that topic in a future blog. In the meantime just know that you are loved!  

Wishing you all a weekend filled with light and love. 


Monday Musing ~ Art Class

Contour in Ink using a marble

Contour in Ink using a marble

I cringed when my high school art teacher informed me he was posting  my contour drawing of a student, sitting with his knees pulled to his chest,  on the wall outside our classroom.

My fellow art students cheered. They knew first-hand how difficult it was to draw anything resembling a human using a marble dipped in black ink. Yes, you heard me right – that drawing was done by rolling an ink-dipped marble around on a piece of paper while focusing on the student model in the center of the classroom.

The non-art students laughed at our “art wall” in the hallway of our high school. “Crazy artists, what the hell is that?”they jeered. But we were building our art muscle – contour drawing helps develop your eye-hand coordination.  As the year progressed we flexed our art muscle and in one hour we could sketch and shade a student model like this:

Live model in pencil

Live model in pencil

or this one of a classmate:

Live model sketch

Live model sketch

“Contour drawing is an artistic technique used in the field of art in which the artist sketches the contour of a subject by drawing lines that result in a drawing that is essentially an outline.”

Within a few months, we had moved from outlining the live model to sketching, shading and bringing the model to life on the page.  Looking back on my old sketches reminds me that I need to start working out again…building my art muscles.

And so, during the month of August, I want to introduce you to my “inner artist”.  I refer to her as the “slumbering artist” but I’m waking her up and clearing the cobwebs out of my art studio.  My plan is to share an art technique or medium on my Monday Musing and Friday Features blog posts throughout the month. I hope you enjoy.

Now where did I put those marbles……