Sunday, July 25, 2010

Altered Book Pages

Hi Everyone!  I wish you could see my Tree of Life in person because I'm a LOUSY photographer!  I saw my first Tree of Life artwork in San Antonio, Texas, about 6 years ago at an open air market showing Hispanic art.  I immediately fell in love with them!  So full of color and animation - literally full of life.  So I have a couple of birds in mine, as well as a nest.  Then there's the little lady bug bottom left, showing up only as a tiny smudge in the photo :( .  There's a rabbit, and a tiny frog, a seashell, butterflies, a tiny spoon (because children and husbands always leave spoons and such outside), and a little spade that someone was using to dig for lost treasure!  And - roses on the trees - blooming year round!  Now that's a Tree of LIFE!!

Here are a few close-ups!

I love the little bird, swooping down to it's mate and the nest!  And I'm very pleased with the results of the lettering.  Instead of using stencils, I simply took a pair of scissors and free-handed the shapes out of different colored papers.  I glued them to the page, then put a few dots and lines of paint on each one to add dimension, as well as outlining each letter with a black Sharpie marker.  

I retook these photos this morning. I know better than to take photos later in the evening, especially when I'm tired. This is SO much better than yesterday's attempt! Now you can see the little red lady bug I painted in the bottom left. See the little bird on the lower left branch? I literally pinched him off of another piece of something (can't remember what now), but he looks great here on the tree. And isn't it wonderful to have roses blooming year found?

Here are my Isabel pages!  At least it wasn't on the first page! The yellow is construction paper on which Isabel drew two "heart people" and she named them Isabel and Gummy.  I love the way she just comes up with ideas, so I saved the painting for ages, not quite sure what to do with it.  Then I started this book and the rest is history. 

Now for Princess of Zenobia (AKA: Isabel).  I had fun with this and it ended up so completely different from what I initially had in mind.  I borrowed the mosque theme from Violette' as a border, with lots of glitter glue! Then I color copied a recent dance photo of Isabel, and cut it out, pasted it to the center and thought I was through.  No such thing.  I was searching for some kind of a "curtain" that could be held back on the sides, allowing only the princess to show when I came across this sheer piece of fabric with a palm tree on the side.  Perfect! I glued it in place over the entire page, then with Sharper Permanent Black Marker, went over the designs one more time, and also outlined quite a bit with more glitter glue, including the three little buttons on Isabel's dance costume!  Lots of fun this one.  Time consuming yes, but worth it.  I'm very excited to get some more pages done!  And I'm taking advantage of every minute now  because once Laura deploys to Afghanistan and we have Isabel full time for a year, I'll have to do yucky things like cook and clean and cook and clean on to creating art while I can!!  Jan

Monday, July 19, 2010

Altered Board Books!!

Having a BLAST lately, altering board books I found at my favorite thrift store! So much so that my granddaughter Isabel wanted to do one on her own!  Well, why not?  So we spent several hours this past week painting the various pages.  Here are the results so far!

Don't they look fun?! Isabel is ahead of me; she's already painted her front and back covers!

I've had "board book altering" plans for some time (Tons of plans and very little time. Sound familiar?), but never took the plunge.  After reading Rice Freeman-Zachery's book, Living the Creative Life, in which she wrote about the artist, Violette, of White Rock, British Columbia, I decided to check out Violette's blog ( . 

WOW!!  That's the best way I can describe Violette's use of vibrant,  living out loud, totally juicy colors!!  Strangely enough, because I'm usually drawn to a much calmer yet still beautiful color palette, I was immediately hooked, enough so that I went on line and ordered Violette's book, Journal Bliss. The rest, as they say, is history!  I read the book in one evening and have been busy coloring my world ever since!

Completing these altered books will take time of course, but I plan to show each page as I finish it. And the best part is that I'm already planning other altered books!  Thanks to Violette!!

Happy Creating!  Jan

My First Artist Trading Card (ATC)

Today I created my first ATC!

It came as a part of my first issue of The Gypsy Wagon Zine, published by Krystin Clark Goodsell (  As it happens, I've been wanting to make ATCs for quite some time, but I just never made it happen.  Needless to say, when I discovered the ATC packet inside the zine, I was nicely surprised!

Now this certainly isn't any great piece of art, but it is my own and I thoroughly enjoyed making it!

Following the two rules made clear in her instructions (i.e., always measuring 2 1/2 by 3 1/2 inches and only traded between artists (never bought or sold), I also wanted to use materials mostly supplied by Krystin.  The only "artful" material I added was green acrylic paint that I finger-painted onto the back of the card. 
I didn't want to "over think" making this ATC; I simply wanted to have fun.  So I jumped in and started cutting, positioning and gluing.  One of the furnished supplies was a strip of film negative. I immediately pictured the letters "A R and T" when I saw it so my first step was to cut that out free hand.  I also loved the oriental red envelope that held the supplies so I incorporated it as well.

I loved the challenge of coming up with something from virtually "nothing" and I especially enjoyed cutting out words that related to art.  My idea was that the art words (and by association, art itself) were being poured out into the world, so the pitcher was perfect!

All in all, I'm very pleased. I had a fun time and I learned several good lessons, such as letting the Mod-Podge dry before taking the next step and, if possible, make photocopies of any wording you may only have one copy of.  Best lesson learned - finger painting is
F. U. N.!!!!!

I'm very excited about making more ATCs and I plan to see if there's an ATC swap in my community.  I'd love to start a collection of them!

Happy Creating!  Jan

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Morning Pages Journal

One more post before closing.  I not only completed my journal for Morning Pages this past week; I've also started writing Morning Pages again!  Think of it as "stream of thought" writing that you do first thing in the morning to help get all the nonsensical, negative, useless clutter out of your head so you can start your day a little calmer!  They really work well for me, although I haven't done them in about 5 years.  However, work is particularly difficult right now so I thought they might help.  Hey - it's better than medication!  For more information, read "The Artist's Way - A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity" by Julia Cameron's my second Morning Pages Journal; the other one I made was simply a cover for Morning Pages that I'd written in a spiral-bound notebook (see post dated Tuesday, 22 June 2010).  Recognize the photo?

The yellow and green cotton lace belonged to my Gran; I wanted to use something that had special meaning to me.

I love my secret notes pocket!  I cut it out of a pair of pants I found at my favorite thrift shop.  In it I actually keep sweet little notes Nigel has written to me over the years.  Yes, I'm a hoarder from way back!  It's also nice to have a place to finally keep them all in one area, before I lose them!  I'm forever "hiding" things so I won't lose them, then completely forgetting where I hide them!  Highly frustrating!!

Well, that's it for now.  Take care and have a lovely week!  Jan 

Independence Day - 4th of July 2010!!

Okay, I know it's a week after the 4th of July, but it's still worth celebrating, no matter when I get my post in!  Nigel and I spent the day together, just the two of us, and we had a lovely time.  I did manage one productive thing - I took photos of the flags Nigel put out.  The white one is the Army flag. 

We also have an Air Force flag, but it gives way to Old Glory until we can get another flag bracket put on the house, above these two.

In the lower photo you can see Nigel's "cats".  The Fursdon family has always had cats and Nigel was determined to have a pair of these.  After looking forever for some (because I refused to pay the outrageous price most everyone wanted), I lucked out and found these two at Wal-Mart of all places!!   

One last photo.  This is a very special Old Glory pin I wanted to tell you about.  I bought it when Nigel was in the First Gulf War, back in 1990-1991.  A very dear friend of mine (who has since passed away), Jadene Navarro, and I were out shopping at lunch time in Nuernberg, which was then in what was considered "West" Germany.  That was where we were stationed in the Army when Nigel was sent to the Gulf, along with Jadene's husband, Jimmy, although he was in a different unit.  Anyway, because the Army units in Nuernberg had sent so many soldiers to the Gulf at that particular time, wives were always on the look-out for their husbands' favorite American items to send to them (before the PX sold out!).  So Jadene and I had a plan.  We shopped during our lunch break and also traveled to the smaller PXs located around the area.  By the way, PX stands for Post Exchange - basically an American department store, and the Commissary is our grocery store.  This not only allowed us to find items that were frequently sold out in the larger stores; it also gave us a reason to keep busy during "down time" so we wouldn't think too much about our husbands being over there.  It worked great for the most part.  One day, we were in a small PX (I'm not even sure where), and we found these two pins - just two of them.  As soon as we saw them, we knew they were meant for us.  They were so beautiful, and stood for so many things we believed in.  So naturally we purchased them and wore them daily till our husbands returned.  On the day they each returned, we wore the pins, and on every 4th of July since.  My flag also has the bittersweet memory of Jadene's loss associated with it; sometimes I just take it out of my jewelry box and look at it, remembering everything we went through, living in a foreign country, trying to raise our children as normally as possible, while our husbands were deployed to war.  Sometimes people forget how special this flag is; they take it, and everything it stands for, for granted.  But Warriors - and their wives - never forget.  Long may She wave and may God continue to bless!   Jan

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Time of Reflection and Keeping My Promise to Myself

The Promise:  To write even when I don't have anything "happy" or "uplifting" to write about.  Still bummed out over the children leaving.  But that's okay. It's very normal.  Egad! I don't want to be normal! Snap out of it! Quick!!

The Reflection:  I worked on the journal most of the afternoon yesterday; still not finished, but I have the pattern and where I want to go with it "in my head" so it should be easier.  Any project I spend a lot of time on - especially a new project - I end up wondering if it's something I want to do "just for me" or if it's something I'd enjoy enough to create for my Etsy shop.

Let's face it - I LOVE to create.  Love it! Love it! Love it!  But . . .is a particular project I'm working on going to bore me to death if I have to create more than a couple of?  One of my goals is to slowly build up my shop "inventory" and my "clientele" until I retire from civil service, at which time I plan to work full time on my shop.  God willing, I have about six years to go; I'll be 56 then  so still young enough to "have fun" with the things I want to do.

So far, I think I've discovered that working on tea pot and coffee press cozies is an enduring project.  Creating my own greeting cards is also a "winner".  These projects offer endless opportunities to express my creativity while keeping me from my arch enemy, BOREDOM!!.  Others - such as the journal - I'm not so sure about.  I like the idea of making journals for myself and if I were smart, I'd never buy another "blank book" again (that is, unless it was more beautiful than one I'd made myself!).  I'd make my own and the occasional gift for someone.  Perhaps I need to make this promise to myself? Back to that later.

Well, enough for now. Don't want to bore anyone!  Take care and have a lovely 4th of July!

Happy Birthday America!  And may you have many, many more!  Jan

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Keeping Busy!

Liz and Jake (AKA: Jakie by Isabel) left this morning for a Caribbean Cruise (away from the oil if all goes according to plan) so I'm trying to keep VERY busy!  And if Laura gets her wish, she'll be deploying to Afghanistan as a civilian by fiscal year end.  I hate it when the children leave.  Typical "mother" reaction I suppose. Still sucks though! So I spent the afternoon working with my new XP printer/scanner/copier! I scanned the following photograph (found at Scott Antique Market in Atlanta), cropped it, resized it, and then printed it. It's for a journal I'm creating for my Etsy shop. Do you know how difficult it is finding people who are smiling and happy looking in these very old photographs? I was thrilled to find this one; she's quite lovely! Let me know what you think!  Take care! Jan