Wednesday, October 23, 2019


I’m working on turning some doodles into stamps.  I’m still a beginner at stamp carving. But even crude carving has a certain charm to it. At least think it does! Every little bit is a bit more practice.

I'm daydreaming about an adventure I have coming up. Can you guess what it is? I'll post about it soon. Doodling and daydreaming go together pretty darn well. Below the sketch are some pics from my decorations last year.




Monday, August 05, 2019

Last week I had the chance to get away to our little cottage in Michigan. I met my sister up there. We'd both brought some art projects and reading materials, but we ended up concentrating on one book she'd brought up and had been working from. So we had our own little art retreat! The book is "Expressive Flower Painting" by Lynn Whipple. She has a unique approach and I will show some pics, but not all the steps...you will need to buy or check out the book to get all the details.
Here I'm making the first layer. There are many layers to the process, and this may or may not show in the finished painting.
This is my inspiration photo. I would never have picked something so complicated, but her process is more about painting it the way you see it and your impression of it.


Here are some more steps....you are layering drawings and colors with soft pastels...turning your canvas as you go. I was seriously having trouble letting go and doing this. I guess I'm a control freak.
Finally you pick one orientation and start painting in your darkest darks and then your flowers and your lightest lights. Different folks seem to all do this their own way. I was trying not to get too literal as that is my usual hangup.  In this photo you can see the table top is the layers below showing and I was hoping to somehow keep those layers, but in the end I wasn't happy with the colors in it.


Here I was going back in with the soft pastels to add some definition and detail to the flowers.

The background wasn't working for me, so I changed it to a green. Our porch at the lake is a light green and I was inspired by that. I also changed the table....I could have left the layers showing as the table top, but it didn't seem to work well with all the pink I'd put in the flowers.  

When I sat back and looked at this I was shocked that I'd made this! It is very different from what I usually do: ink drawings and watercolors in a sketchbook. I'd been so angsty during some of these stages, and that tells me I was stepping outside my comfort zone. But of course that's where the learning and growth happens! We started this at 10 pm and worked straight though the night...full of adrenaline! After finishing we crashed. 



The next few days we kayaked, swam, picked roadside flowers and some from the yard, visited with neighbors, and also did a bit more art...
Jennifer was working on painting a water lily. She'd already completed two paintings using Lynn's method. I didn't get a pic of them all together, but maybe it's not too late. 


I used a small canvas and tried to do one bloom. At one point I almost threw it out, but then when I added the pastels I liked it again! So if you go get Lynn's book, try all the steps, and just keep going even if it feels like a mess at some stages. There is not much background to play with on this one, so I used the sides too and added polka dots for fun.

If you ever get a chance to get away from your normal routine (by yourself or with someone with similar interests) to focus on your art, I'd recommend it! It's unusual to get to concentrate fully for several days with no interruptions...at least it is in my life, and I have a feeling I'm not alone in that.

Saturday, June 01, 2019

Notre Dame, lower Puna, Volcanoes, Fires, and Change


I draw often, but I find when I'm upset, I draw more...sometimes obsessively. I think it helps me work though things and process the feelings.  It could be that I'm just an obsessive sort, but I like the prior explanation better, so that's my story and I'm sticking to it. 😄


The day Notre Dame was burning, like the rest of the world, I was in shock. I suppose I kind of take it for granted that the things I see that have been relatively the same for hundreds or thousands of years will still be there when I go back. Never take anything for granted. I could not stop thinking about it, and checking the news when I could while at work. I ended up making a drawing from one of my photos. It's very wonky and I totally lost track of where things were in relation to each other, but it doesn't matter. I channeled some of that nervous energy into making a little drawing in my book. While I drew, I thought about how we sat at the cafe on the corner across the street and drank mulled wine and sketched the cathedral. I'm sooo glad we did sketch that day. 


Part of the reason I started sketching again (way back when my kids were still in school) was because when I sketch, I remember things so much better. I have to really slow down and observe the scene. Later when I look at a sketch, I can remember just how it felt to sit there: what the sounds were, how the breeze (or lack of it) felt, how the temperature was. I wanted to remember things more completely. 

On my trips to Hawaii, I always made time to go swim in this warm pond, heated by the volcanic action beneath the earth, with ocean waves splashing over into the pool at one end. It was a special place. I made this sketch one year while I was there by myself.  Then last year, a large chunk of lower Puna was covered over in lava from the eruption of  Kīlauea. This place and the tide pools where I snorkeled, homes, one of my favorite restaurants for lunch, and other special places are now completely under tons of lava. Though I knew it could happen, I never really expected those places to disappear. I'm so glad I sketched while I was actually sitting there in the shade of the palms.  

Of course, sometimes it's not just places that change. My dogs pass away with their shorter doggie lives. Some of my human loved ones have passed away too. My children grew from babies to teenagers to young adults and are now in their late twenties and early thirties. Homes are bought and sold and remodeled. My own body goes back and forth from thin to heavy. Towns and buildings change with the times. As the saying goes: the only constant in life is change. 


I'm one of those people who is rather shy about sketching in front of other people, so I don't do it as often as I'd like. But now I'm going to try and remember to go ahead and sketch on the spot. You never know when things will change and maybe even be gone. Carpe diem quam minimum credula postero (Seize the day, put very little trust in tomorrow). Draw it today.  







Saturday, April 13, 2019

Draw Daily

Yep, trying to get back to drawing daily, even if it's just little sketch or contour drawing. I haven't been doing too well at it! So here is today's little sketch on a page about what I'd like to do in the future and improving my health. Soooo...if I can get on the bike often this summer, I might end up looking like my sketch! That would feel great!
I've been doing quite a bit of cutting and pasting on my pages too. It helps me get a whole idea down quicker because I'm not a speedy sketcher, and if I'm going to get back to sketching each day, it often needs to be a quick exercise.

Sunday, March 03, 2019

Hard at work on a new project





So for a while now, I've been working on a project that I had to keep quiet about until it was announced. I was so excited to get a call to work on a Route 66 Passport for the entire route that will be coming out this spring! I have done the illustrations for each state and the overall map. It has been a super fun project. When it's all printed and put together, I'll post again, but it should be in the stores in April!


Friday, March 01, 2019

New Art Studio!


Holy cow, it's been a long while since I posted. I went though a period of no computer, when I had to do everything on my phone. I don't know how all these young'uns do it all on their phone, but I have no patience for that tiny screen! So I lost my blogging mojo. But I have still been working on my art and at the shop, and cool things have been happening!

For one thing I was juried in to the Pontiac Community Art Center. I can be a bit of a hermit..well, a lot of a hermit, and this has me stepping out and meeting a wonderful community of artists here in our town. I even have a studio space upstairs, where I have been spending quite a bit of time over the last month or so. As you can see I have a window, and it's north facing....lovely light. John Fitzgerald is the artist in charge of the studio spaces and that is his beautiful large painting on the wall and his painting spot on the left.  If you live in Pontiac, or get a chance to visit, you should definitely stop by the Pontiac Community Art Center and check out all the wonderful artwork by local artists!

The art center was a 1960s insurance office, and it looked it when they bought the building, but the members worked, and are working so hard to transform the building. This winter they added heat and a restroom to the space upstairs, which makes it soo much nicer to work up there! They also repurposed much of the old woodwork from when it was the Busy Bee Cafe many, many years ago...keeping the history of the building on site, and used in a new way!

While I've been organizing and moving supplies from home to the studio, I have found things like this drawing of the cowboy motel which I made a few years ago, and it got lost in the shuffle. There are lots of benefits to getting things in order....or at least better order.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Blues Brothers...It's never too late to mend.

Today I'm working on a page in my own Route 66 travel journal. I'm doing a bit of cut and paste (old school style) with copies of drawings I made recently. I also used some ephemera from the 1960s. This is not finished. I'll add some color, and I left a blank spot on the left because I really would like to drive up to Joliet and sit and sketch the old Joliet prison on site. It's a gem. I hope someday they will have it open for tours!

I fell in love with The Blues Brothers movie long ago, when it first came out, because of the stars (I was a big SNL fan) and especially the music. Later, my kids knew the sound track by heart as toddlers because it was our road trip music. I'd look back and see them in their car seats, their little feet swinging in time to the music.  The movie has many celebrities in it that you might not even know are there if you don't look carefully. Here's a page with some cool Blues Brothers trivia: Fun Facts Blues Brothers.

Sunday, August 06, 2017

Route 66

Here's another peek at a project for a Route 66 event coming up soon. This project will be all pen and ink...oh well...so far anyway. You never know...a bit of collage may creep in, but it's going to have a black and white them going on.

Saturday, August 05, 2017

Miles of Possibility Route 66 Conference

I've been working on a fun project for the Miles of Possibility Route 66 Conference, which is in Joliet this year. You know what that means.....The Blues Brothers, the old prison, the Rialto Theater, and other cool things to draw! I'll show you some teaser photos this week as I work on pulling the drawings together into journal type pages for this project. I'm heading to the lake with my art supplies and drawings to concentrate on finishing this project up so it can be printed.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Pages from Route 66 Travel Journal

 Here are a few more pages from my Route 66 Moleskine travel journal. This is the Blue Whale in Catoosa, OK. It's one of my favorite stops on Route 66! It was a popular swimming hole for years, and at one time there was also a small zoo with a large ark.  It's still a great stop today!
 This page is about Bob Waldmire. and all the exhibits about him in Pontiac, IL. I love sketching the school bus he turned in to a winter home...he parked it in Hackberry, Arizona and stayed there in the winters. Bob and his VW Van was the inspiration for the Fillmore character in the movie "Cars." You can learn all about him at the Illinois Route 66 Museum and Hall of Fame in Pontiac, Illinois. 

On this page, I used some drawings I'd made before in another book. I'm trying to corral all the 66 pages in one place so I copied them and rearranged a bit and came up with this page. I also included the drawing Bob made of his van and Fillmore meeting up somewhere on Route 66.
Only a little more than 13 miles of Route 66 is in Kansas, but it's a pretty cool 13 miles! This is the story of a Bordello and madame in Galena, Texas. She was convicted of murdering a miner, and it was suspected that many of the other missing miners may have met the same fate. Very creepy story!

Here's another Pontiac, Illinois page. Since I live here, and own the gift shop at the museum, I have drawn quite a few sights here. The sketch is one I made from my car over the winter. There is a nice place to pull off and look at the barn with it's advertising of Meramec Caverns. I used a sticker of my drawing of the Old City Hall in Pontiac, IL.  It houses the Route 66 Museum, the Livingston County War Museum, and the Bob Waldmire Experience. Also included is a sticker made from my drawing of the Livingston County Courthouse in Pontiac. I have a rather crudely carved stamp I made and I use it often for Journal pages and other Route 66 artwork I make.

I'm working on a Joliet project right now, so you will see quite a few more drawings about Joliet that will be used in the finished project. This little pen and ink of Rich and Creamy will reappear in that project too. I copied the pen and ink drawing I made months ago, and added colored pencil and glued it to the page.



Thursday, July 20, 2017

A Little Stamp Carving

I created a new postcard for the shop by using a close up of a page of my Route 66 travel journal. I used the computer to add in the town and to identify the bus as Bob Waldmire's land yacht and to add a Route 66 shield. I like how it turned out, except that yesterday I realized I forgot to put a signature or a line to identify myself as the artist. I ordered 500 of these and they only sell for 50 cents, so I sure didn't want to sign them all by hand. So, today I got out the carving tools and made a little stamp to fit in a space on the back. I am a very inexperienced stamp carver and it shows, but I still like the handmade look of it. I used Vistaprint to make these using their standard paper.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Julie Fei-Fan Balzer's Blog...wow.

I just found Julie Fei-Fan Balzer's blog, and she is so inspiring! I just had to share this post about a dress and tie she painted to wear to a formal event. So creative! I've included a picture of her date's tie to give you a peek at what is in store when you click to see her spectacular dress! Click on her name to see the dress she started with and how she transformed it. You really have to see this! Julie Fei-Fan Balzer's dress.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Journaling Paris...

Right after stowing our luggage at the hotel, we walked over to the Eiffel Tower. Of course this has been on my bucket list forever, and it definitely did not disappoint. It's every bit as beautiful as I imagined, and the views are fantastic!
 I made a little pocket for my Paris Pass. I couldn't bring myself to throw it away, so now it's part of the souvenirs. I put more of the little photos I had printed in these pages. These are just cut and paste over some of the pages I'd painted up before leaving home.
 Here is Jennifer looking out over the city and Pat, Jennifer, and I up high in the tower.
Later that night, we saw the tower glowing with golden light, and it several times in the evenings it puts on a sparkling show.
 We stayed at the Hotel Duquesne Eiffel, which was charming. Old and yet, modern...a nice combination. We could see the Eiffel tower if we opened the window and looked down the street.
 Another pass I kept, Plus a little map torn out of a guide.
 I drew this as we sat at a café by Notre Dame and drank mulled wine (it was pretty chilly out).  The cathedral is stunningly beautiful, and also a moving place to visit. Mass was in progress while we were visiting.
Here is another page that is totally cut and paste. So many of the maps you pick up are wonderfully drawn and colorful. This one was for the Big Red Bus. It's one of those hop on, hop off tour buses, and it had the tour on tape in many languages. It was a nice way to see some of the city, and give our feet a rest at the same time!
 Musée de l'Orangerie was also a bucket list site. I 've always wanted to see Monet's large water lily paintings. They were simply amazing. It was a moving experience to sit and soak them in. While I was sketching I saw another sketcher, so I sketched him too. This was one of my favorite moments in Paris.
 We spent one whole day at Versailles. It's hard to imagine the expense that went into creating this palace...which was the summer palace...it's incredible. It also makes you think back on the history of the time, and maybe understand some of the angst and frustration of that time in history. It makes me glad that it's a place everyone can visit.
 We had to try Ladurée's macarons while in Paris! Lovely treat!

 Here's a page with a photo of the three of us in the garden at Versailles and a bit of a post card of the chapel there, and a little drawing of a settee/bed in one of the bedrooms. Everything at Versailles is incredibly ornate.
A cut and paste using a pretty postcard.
Pat treated us to a wonderful early dinner at the restaurant in the garden. These images are cut from some paper placemats that the waiter gave to us, after we explained about our journals. There were nice fabric tablecloths on the tables, but maybe they use these outside. The artwork is charming! Cut and paste makes for a quick page and captured memories.
 Jennifer had been doing some reading about the Petit Trianon, a village built for Marie Antoinette to get away from her responsibilities at the palace (a summer place away from the summer place). She had it built as an idyllic country village.
 I just used the beautiful map of the gardens for this page. It was like something straight out of storybook. It was not the easiest thing to find..even with a map. I think they could benefit from a few signs to lead you through the garden to the hamlet.
Here is the queen's boudoir. I sketched this little building from one of my photos after we got back to Ireland, because we were on a pretty tight schedule in Paris. This was in the hamlet, separate from la Petit Trianon. As I said, the buildings are STRAIGHT out a storybook. If you'd like to see some great pictures of a very charming place go to this site: The Queen's Hamlet.

Well, that's enough for today. More of this journal on another day!