Take a breath

Press pause
Look up
Notice the clouds
The shades of white
And blue.

Hold on
Close your eyes
Smell the breeze
As it heralds
A change of seasons.

Take a breath
And listen
To the thoughts
Buried deep inside
As they whisper.

Slow down
And ease into
The moments that
Make up your life
As you know it.

Live in the here and now
Laugh with friends and family
Love this fleeting time
And take it easy…
Life is too short to be
Rushed all the time.

Trusting the Process

When I create anything in my art journal, I have one rule: to give myself the permission to change my mind.

Fluidity is important. I might have an idea or a feeling I pursue initially but if it doesn’t sit right with me in the moment, I don’t keep myself tethered to it.

This video is part of the mindfulness exercises I had done as part of The Artist’s Way…the prompt was “I AM” and I had written down a number of things about me — all things positive and negative … when I started painting over the words, I felt a strong urge to create leaves. Something about renewal, evolution and growth…and I could have left it like that but when the leaves were done, it felt wrong, disjointed, uninspired. And I felt another strong urge — to paint a face.

I didn’t know if it would work…I had no clue if I would “ruin” the leaves and all that under painting beyond repair. But I chose to give in to my intuition instead of bowing down to fear. You’ll see the page start transforming drastically at the 2:34 mark.

My strokes were bolder, more purposeful and more assertive with the face than they had been with the leaves. But if I hadn’t painted the leaves first, if I hadn’t gone through that process…the face wouldn’t have come to me.

Trusting your gut is such an important part of the creative process. Even if everything in your mind tells you otherwise. And I think the more we train ourselves to follow our hearts, the more vulnerable and emotional our art becomes. The more authentic and raw it is. The deeper it connects.

I hope this video inspires you to create freely. Give yourself permission to deviate from “the plan.” Stay open to new ideas. Listen to that little voice. And do it all afraid.

Until next time,

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Supplies Used

Please note most links here are affiliate links which means everytime you click and shop using them, I get a teeny-tiny commission at no extra cost to you. Read my complete affiliate disclousre policy here.

Getting Creative with Stamps

Every time a new release comes out from Colorado Craft Company’s Anita Jeram series, I am in awe. This time was no different. And my head was spinning with ideas when I saw all the amazing little critters — but the one stamp that stood out right away was the Conga Line! I mean, look at these cuties! How can you resist them?

Conga Line Stamp Set by Colorado Craft Company

Just like last time, I didn’t want to make a card. Don’t get me wrong — nothing wrong with making cards, and I’ll probably be making a ton of them with this series of stamps. But I really wanted to stretch out of my comfort zone and do something different. I’ve been doing a lot of journals, so I skipped that idea. I also considered using them in conjunction with gel plate prints but what’s new about that? And then, while walking to school with my little one last morning, inspiration struck! I needed to give that Conga Line a 3-D avatar!

Conga Line Stamp, Hero Arts Intens-ified Black ink, Grafix white shrink film and Tim Holtz stamp pad

I love working with the Grafix line of products, be they the Dura-lar archival polyester film or their craft plastic but the white Shrink Film was new to me, so you’ll see me feeling a bit challenged with finding the right mediums to work with. In the past, I’ve worked with colored pencils successfully on sanded shrink film, but this opaque white film didn’t take colored pencils at all. I finally settled on a combination of alcohol ink markers — if you have Copics, they’ll work great! — and POSCA acrylic markers along with some accents with Sakura glitter gel pens. I also gave them (my traditional) garments easily enough with a Sharpie retractable ultra fine tip marker.

Giving these cuties clothes is my favorite part!

You might have noticed that I also chose to die cut the image before coloring, something I never do! The reason? I was worried the colors might smudge when passing the shrink film through my Big Shot die cutting machine.

Of course, it’s nerve racking to bake a colored piece in the toaster oven! What if it curls up horribly? Or the colors run? Maybe the whole thing will burn! So many fearful thoughts. But I reminded myself that it’s only a piece of polystyrene. And I did it afraid! Yes, the whole thing curled up and warped…yes, one of the hats extended a bit much and the tip broke off…but that gave me another idea — use a real pompom!

Nerve-wracking business!

Oh this is just so darling! And I know my kiddo will be over the moon when she puts these cuties on her backpack! They will definitely be the talk of the school, don’t you think? I hope you enjoyed this little fun project that filled my heart with so much warmth. I can’t wait to experiment more with the shrink film and these stamps — who knows what’s next? Magnets? Earrings? Keyring charms? Buttons? Zipper pulls? Oh the possibilities!


And before I forget, no release is complete without a giveaway! So here is all the info you need and a list of all the fabulous artists who are joining me in celebrating Colorado Craft Company! To participate in the giveaway, please leave a comment here for a chance to win a stamp set of your choice. There are 19 designers participating in this blog hop, so your chances of winning are higher if you leave a comment on each designer’s blog post and Instagram account. The cutoff for entries is midnight Mountain Time, September 6. Winners will be announced on the Colorado Craft Company blog on September 8.


Check out the entire stamp and die lineup here:

And if you’re still new to this line, I highly recommend checking out some of these mini stamps and dies which are just too adorable to not have in your crafty stash!

Music credits

Looked Back, Saw Nothing by Twin Musicom is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Source: http://www.twinmusicom.org/song/273/looked-back-saw-nothing-kenyon

Artist: http://www.twinmusicom.org

Transforming Backgrounds

I do a LOT of gel plate printing and as a result have a ton of sheets that I roll off excess paint on — I call these “brayer sheets.” I also have many prints that are, honestly, just “meh” but I never have the heart toss them. Maybe I’m just a hoarder.

Anyway, I keep all my brayer sheets from my gel plate printing sessions and random “test prints” as well as discards bound in this journal. From time to time, when I’m in between projects or just procrastinating, I’ll doodle in this. There’s no agenda or particular style, as usual, but just a desire to play and see what happens.

Exercises like these, on a whim, are important to me because there is no burden to create something “worthy.” It’s all discarded paper anyway. It helps give myself permission to create “whatever.”

I usually don’t record these sessions because they’re never done with the intent to share but I wanted to record this one so I could show you just how ok it is to play, to change your mind over and over and to keep going even when, at several points, it seems like you could stop.

I hope you enjoy this hyperlapsed video and it will encourage you to take out a scrap piece of paper and create something — anything — just so you can enjoy the process regardless of the outcome.

Supplies used:

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One Day at a Time

While my kiddo is excited about all the back-to-school events lined up for next week, I am a nervous wreck. I try to stay away from the news as much as possible, but when in-person neighborhood conversations start teetering on the edge of “did you see the number of Delta variant cases in the county recently?” there is no escape.

The end-of-summer is starting to feel a lot like February 2020, right before lockdown. We have dealt with so much uncertainty this past year that I was hoping we could go back to some semblance of normalcy this fall. But it doesn’t look like the “normal” we were used to back in 2019 will ever be back. Who knows what the next couple of weeks or months will look like?

When anxiety hits, I find myself gravitating toward doodling. This morning, I spent 20 minutes easing the worries in my mind, breathing, staying in the moment and transforming a “leftover” gel print into something beautiful.

I’ve realized it doesn’t take much to re-center myself…I don’t have to create something spectacular or jaw-dropping. It can be a really simple drawing that allows me to clear my head and truly just take it one day at a time.

I hope you’re all staying well, keeping healthy and allowing yourself the luxury of enjoying today — because the present is all we really have.

Take care!

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Seasons of Life

These photos are from that season of my life when I was moving away from big canvas paintings to small functional pieces of art. These alcohol ink ceramic pendants enclosed in a fluid acrylic gift box were one of my best-sellers at pop-up craft shows and many of these were commissioned.

I don’t make jewelry anymore or do fluid acrylics paintings. I rarely use alcohol inks and, even though I have learned to never say never, I will NEVER do pop-up craft shows again.

They are relics from a time I was creating, not for myself, but for others. When I look at them I don’t see beauty … I remember the countless frustrating hours sanding, filing, varnishing, mixing just the right proportion of chemicals to get the “perfect” lacing in my pours…and then wondering if they would sell. It wasn’t fun.

But these played an important part in my journey to get where I am. I didn’t have this clarity of purpose back then…I couldn’t have. I had to go through this phase, create these things, and learn from doing what gives me joy. Ironically, my tag line those days said “custom pieces of joy!”

This is a different season of my life. It’s not about tangibles anymore…it’s about living in the here and now. For myself.

This is me

I create what I want, even if it will forever stay hidden from the public eye in a journal page…it’s dictated by my desire to enjoy the process than focus on an end product. It’s about following my heart and paying close attention to its whispers. It’s about sharing, learning, being.

I’d love to hear from you…is there something you used to create that you don’t anymore?

Embellishing Tags with Quick Focal Imagery

It’s been five weeks of leading the Let Loose with Mixed Media workshop in collaboration with Alexandra Stapleton-Smith of Maker Forte and I am so enthused and inspired by the variety of tags people are producing as they discover (or re-discover) their inner artist.

These mixed media tags have several layers of paint, inks, texture pastels, gels, kaleidoscope powder, printed paper, lace, buttons, washi tape, colored pencil marks, brads, glossy accents and watercolor markers. Phew!

We have two more weeks to go before our tag books are complete and I can share the final flip through of my project, but in the meantime I wanted to share this quick video demonstrating some of the techniques I’ve been sharing with workshop attendees.

The tag backgrounds you see here were made using a gel plate and are heavily textured with pastes and gels. There’s a lot of depth owing to the subtle variations in color and the play between different textural layers.

Each tag gives. And then gives some more.
Lots of mixed media layers to invite the eye to explore more.

This is, of course, just a small peek into how various different elements can be corralled together to create a cohesive piece. How you arrive at those decisions, what prompts specific choices at specific steps in the journey and how you synthesize all of it into a bigger narrative — those are all addressed in this seven-week workshop.

Even though this isn’t a detailed process video, I hope it still gives you some inspiration and ideas to create a multi-dimensional mixed media piece.

If you’re interested in detailed instructional videos with voiceovers or live sessions on creating powerful, layered mixed media tags, please let me know in the comments.

Supplies used:
Tags from Maker Forte
Gel Plate
Color Hive Inks from Maker Forte
Texture paste from Ranger Ink
Grit paste from Ranger Ink
Ground Espresso Distress Oxide
Blending tool
Acrylic Inks
Dictionary paper
Karin BrushMarker Pro
Black Derwent Water-Soluble Pencil
White Acrylic Ink
Fabritak Permanent Adhesive
Wood Buttons
Washi Tape
White gel pen

Sign up for the waitlist: new course alert

I’m so chuffed that members of MansiMakes with You and my YouTube followers chimed in to help me decide my newest online class offering!

I’m not a portrait artist but I have always had a desire to create portraits without looking at someone else’s work. What I have realized, through practice, is that I can make abstract faces if I move my hands really fast.

And when I couple that speed with a wet-on-wet technique and acrylic inks, it’s free flow magic. I’m serious. The images just seem to emerge from paper and I am surprised each time.

I’m really excited to share this technique with you and looking forward to all the fun, unique and diverse personalities you create. Make sure to sign up for the waitlist here, so you can be the first to know when the class launches.

Let me know if you have any questions in the meantime.

Would you rather…?

I have been invited to participate in a free (to you) art event for which I need to prepare a fun, exciting workshop. I am trying to decide between two projects and would really appreciate knowing what you think.

To make the decision-making easy for you, let me know would you pay $12 for the portraiture class or $12 for the layered botanicals class? I’ll offer the other one for free 🙂

Creating Contrast in a Journal Page

This new journal page was an interesting study in contrasts. While I started with a bright splash of cadmium yellow to cover the entire background, the somber mood and expression of the focal image served as a stark reminder of what is real versus what is wishful.

This page has cool and warm shades bumping along together in a way that works, rubbing shoulders, mingling in parts while staying discernibly aloof in others. The overall effect is very different from the first spread in this same journal.

I am asked often how I decide on my color schemes. I wish I had a more acceptable answer but the truth is that I don’t give color any thought. I grab what is closest and what my eye lands on, most days. Some days I close my eyes and pick some colors. I gravitate toward the bright hues of yellow one day and seem to pick out deep dark shades of blue the next.

It’s hard to explain what drives my color choices because, honestly, I don’t completely understand it myself. It’s part laziness, part curiosity. I would never know what certain colors would look like next to each other if I didn’t do it this way. And yes, it doesn’t always sing harmoniously but I almost always find that, during the journey of creation, something wildly unexpected catches my fancy and seems to bring it all together.

Let me share a secret with you: You don’t always have to know why you’re doing what you’re doing. You don’t always have to have the answers. It’s ok to just make subconscious choices and see what happens. It’s called leaning into your intuition and following your heart instead of trying to think of which particular rule you need to follow.

I allow the here and now to guide me with nary a thought. And this is what results. When I glued the watercolor portrait on the page, I had no idea what would emerge but I was curious to see the interplay of bright colors against dark ones.

There’s always a subliminal story in all my work…sometimes it’s easy to recognize while at other times it speaks to me after months of creating a piece. Regardless, all my work comes from my heart. It’s unique, it’s authentic and it’s rewarding.

Supplies used:

Tell me, how do you choose your colors?