Abstract Painting Workshop with Kiddos!

"It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child." - Pablo Picasso 

Last weekend I had the pleasure and honor to teach an abstract painting workshop to some fabulous kiddos at the Hiawatha Public Library.  You guys, they rocked it.  They were such a sweet, open-hearted bunch.  They just rode along on my crazy train of suggestions and ideas for moving the hand on the canvas, and they created awesome, unique pieces!  There's something a child has.....I wish I could bottle it, and force adults to drink it.  Children have an innate ability to JUST HAVE FUN.  We warmed up with a scribbling exercise timed to music, and after just a few minutes of that, their cheeks were rosy, and their eyes were shining.  They were IN.  And ready for more.  Our time together went by far too quickly.  I enjoyed this class more than I expected to...and per usual, I came away from the experience learning a little bit myself!  Funny how that works!

If you are looking for more childlike wonder in your creative practice....here are some suggestions I gathered from my artist friends that day.

1)  Stay curious.  Always approach your creative process with the words "what if."  "What if I put this blue down next to this coral?"  "What if I dabbed the paper towel into this wet ink?"  

2)  Stay brave.  Just DO the above mentioned "what ifs."  Seriously.  It's just canvas or paper.  No one's going to die because you are trying something "crazy" with your art.

3)  Stay in tune.  Really listen and pay attention to what feels right and what's fun for you to make.  Do you feel like covering your art with tiny little circles?  Get down with your bad self.  Does it feel good to smoosh it around with your hand?  Do it.  Just do it until you don't feel like doing it any more.

4)  Stay in the moment.  Yep....this one is tough, because "adulting" requires us to have so many balls in the air at one time.  Try.....even for five minutes to just set aside the pressing matters of the day, and move your hands...even if it's in a journal or on the back of a receipt.  You'd be surprised where and how often you can slip in little moments of joy.

Saturday in the Studio

Hi friends!  I thought you might enjoy just a little peek at a few things popping up in the studio this week.  I'm prepping for a couple of small, local holiday events, which means I switch my focus to little gift items, such as mini canvases, and ornaments.  I had a fun, productive day in my newly furbished, reorganized studio here at home.  (Tour coming soon, I promise....just gotta keep my focus on the MAKING right now.)

I drank my morning coffee with Frida today.  Isn't she great???  The hubby surprised me with this mug while we were shopping around in Madison a couple of weeks ago.  I just love her.  If you need one too, you can find one HERE.  

I've got a bunch of these simple little beauties in the works too.  They are "chunky" canvases, with deep profiles.  You know me....I love sweet messages.  I can't resist them.

I'm really trying to make a point of using up my "old inventory" this winter.  I found these sweet little house ornaments in a box in the back of my supply closet.  They were FUN to paint, and will look so sweet on a tree....or even just lined up on a mantel.  They are about 4" tall, and so CUTE.  

These ball ornaments are going to be really great too.  They were already painted black, and I doodled some funky flowers all over them with a light colored pencil.  I'll paint them in soon, leaving some of the black background showing.  

And mittens!!!  I used to make these years ago....and I still had some left in my stash.  They are wooden cut outs that a sweet friend cut for me.  They will have some wire and beads soon, for hanging.  

And some minis.....more sweet flowers with kind messages.  I can't wait to get back at it tomorrow and get some of these things finished up.  Next up, magnets, magic wands, bracelets, and more!!!
I hope you all are having a wonderful weekend.  Is it cold where you are?  We have moved to the winter coats, hats and gloves routine, and are none too happy about it.  Ah well.

Cheers, and happy Saturday!

I'm a guest blogger at Stencil Girl!

What a hoot it was to complete a journal project using three Stencil Girl stencils in a journal spread!  Have you heard that I love to art journal?  What I love about working in a book is the  non-preciousness and freedom to just have fun making marks and playing with color.  There are no mistakes.  I’m a big fan of inspiring words, so those will often find their way into my pages, giving me much needed reminders when I page through the book at a later time.

I’m so thrilled to create this journal spread for you, using 3 of Stencil Girl’s wonderful stencils:
L301  Circles Circles by Traci Bautista
L091  Dots and Dashes by Jessica Sporn
S400  Military Stars by June Daley

Okay….let’s get started…..

I started my pages with some gesso, haphazardly scraped across the pages with a credit card.  I purposefully left some parts of the page uncovered.  When the gesso dried, I spritzed Adirondack color wash in Butterscotch all over the spread, and quickly watered it down with a soaking brush, moving the ink all over the surface.  I blotted the surface with paper towels, leaving a lovely variegated pattern behind.  Next, I scribbled with a Stabilo All pencil, happily and randomly moving my hand around.  I love making marks!

Next, I brushed matte varnish over the lines I had drawn, causing them to activate and smear a little bit.  I do this for two reasons.  One, I just love the way the lines look when they smear and blur.  Two, the matte varnish acts as a fixative for the pencil lines, keeping them in place, so they don’t muddy up future layers on the page.

While the pencil lines dried, I turned my attention to the first stencil, Dots and Dashes.  I sponged a dark turquoise onto some deli paper.  I LOVE deli paper, don’t you?  Its transparency when I use it as collage material is a blast!

When the pencil lines dried, I started filling in shapes with color.  I am not a purist when it comes to paint.  I love it all!  From Golden to craft paint, I use it all!  When painting in my shapes, I am again being haphazard.  I love how some of the pencil lines are obscured when I go over them with the paint, but others remain strong dark marks when I avoid the lines.  It’s up to you how careful or carefree you want to be with this step.

After laying down some color, I pulled out my Circles Circles stencil and decided to add some texture to a few areas with a reductive technique.  I painted a light turquoise over the dark.  When that paint was almost dry, I placed the stencil right on top of the paint, and rubbed through the stencil with a damp baby wipe.  This left a really cool “ghostly” effect to that area. 

I did some more scribbling with Neocolor pastels, and added more texture to the page by pressing tissue and paper towel into wet paint. 

With my Stabilo All pencil, I scribbled through the Military Stars stencil randomly throughout the page, and then added some paper collage elements.  I decided on a quote a friend shared with me….a lyric from a song she loves.  It seemed the perfect sentiment for the light spot on the page.

And here is the completed spread!  A crazy, scribbly, patchwork-y burst of happy thoughts….from me to you! 
Thanks so much for joining me today, I hope you had fun!  Big thanks to MaryBeth Shaw and the gang at StencilGirl for this fun challenge!  

See you in Edina!!!

Hello beautiful Minnesota people!!!  I'm coming to see you in Edina!
This Saturday and Sunday, September 9th and 10th, at the Edina Fall into the Arts Show.  The show is located in the lovely Centennial Lakes Park.  I LOVE the Twin Cities!  So excited to visit again!  Come see me and the hubby at booth #353.  Free hugs!!!  Click HERE for more show specifics!  See you soon!

Happy New Year. I want in.

Good morning, friends!  And Happy New Year!!!  Wow, here we are....another trip around the sun!!  So many people are telling me how happy they are that 2016 is over.  I can't say I don't agree.....it was kind of a weird year, eh?  There were days I could've sworn we were in this strange alternate universe.  But no, it was real.  All of it.  (It was real, right....that all really happened?)

I don't want this to turn into a big sad post about how ugly our world is, etc.  You all know there is plenty of ugly out there.  There is darkness, pain and despair. There always has been and there always will be.  But there also has always been light and goodness. 

 And I'm curious....do you feel it?  And see it?  And hear it?

Have you noticed that it is bravely stepping forward more often these days? Speaking up for those who have no voice. Standing in for those who have lost their strength.  Not allowing hurtful language aimed at those who are living their own truth to just fly by unchecked.

I do.  I hear it.  I see it.  And I intend to be a part of it.  I'm wholeheartedly joining the army of light bearers.  Yeah, that's what I wanna be.  A light bearer. Sweeping away cobwebs, and shining the light into the dark forgotten corners. Seeking the truth, standing in and speaking up when necessary.  Shifting my thoughts to love and acceptance, away from judgement and hopelessness. I have met so many strong, loving, beautiful people out there who are gonna crush the darkness with their light.  And. I. Want. In.