Monday, January 31, 2011

Marco's Art Store

Most of you guys don't know this but I'm originally from NY city - the Bronx. I go back there often, and until my friends moved to Minneapolis, I'd never been to another "big" city. I just kind of figured they were all the same. Minneapolis is a whole new world compared to Manhattan, but let's talk Los Angeles.

People don't walk in Los Angeles, did you know that? No one walks. At all. Suzi and are both like "Where is everybody?" Keep this in mind - no walkers.

We forgot some of the supplies we were supposed to bring for CHA...most of the supplies, actually. So, Friday night before we went to bed, we looked up Art Supplies on the iPhone - mine is usually REALLY GOOD about finding places using the Maps app, but Suzi has a fun one called "Around Me" and that's what we used to look up art supplies. We found Marco's Art Store a mile from the hotel we were staying at, and figured a mile was really no big deal to walk. We got up Saturday morning and started off to Marco's. STILL no people walking. As we got farther and farther away from our hotel, the parking lots got cheaper and cheaper - $2 for ALL DAY? That's f-ing crazy to a couple of girls who are used to NY parking lots where you pay $10 for 15 minutes. So we're walking along with all of our stuff for CHA - I have Suzi's laptop on my hip, she's got her little suitcase full of stuff and her cute little dress on. We looked like the perfect victims just waiting to happen.

Needless to say, Marco's was a HUGE let-down. I'm talking huge. Not only did we walk a mile out of our way BEFORE we ate breakfast or had coffee - all Marco's had to sell us was unfinished Greek statues. Then we started walking back and realized what a HORRIBLE neighborhood we were in!! Luckily it was early enough on a Saturday morning that the muggers were still sleeping off Friday night.

Moral of the story: NO ONE walks anywhere in LA and people named Marco are going to let you down.

Suzi drew her and I added a little color, she says "we were almost a victim today at Marco's art store".

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Leaving LA...we're all CHA'd out!

Friday, January 28, 2011

I lied - I'm California blogging!!

Suzi and Patricia picked me up from the airport!
Then we took a picture so we could post it to Facebook and text it to our friends :)THEN I got to play with Suzi stamps!!!We made little tiny paintings with the stamps for CHA today.It's so funny, meeting someone for the first time you never really know what to expect...this was completely comfortable, just like hanging out with an old friend. Last night we wandered around a grocery store when we realized all the restaurant were closed (Starbucks, too!) and we forgot to buy dog food, which was why we went there in the first place - just like when I go to Target for milk and I come home with Cheetos. Today we're heading to CHA and I'm not sure if our hotel has Wifi - I hope so, so I can skype with Mini Me...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Crazy fun? Or stupid idea?

Tomorrow I'm going to California to meet the amazing Suzi Blu for the first time in person (we've skyped and talked on the phone and texted lots) and going with her to CHA!

I'm a worrier, so even though I'm absolutely positive it's going to be SUPER fun and amazing, I'm also slightly terrified. (Can you be slightly terrified?) I have no idea what it's going to be like, what to bring, what we're going to do...and it's the first time I've ever been away from Mini Me except when my grandpa died in 2008.

I'm REALLY excited about traveling alone for the first time in four years!! The last time I got to travel by myself was when I was pregnant with Mini. I LOVE flying, I love airports, I love it all - but it's a lot easier when I can just curl up in a chair with my Nook and read away the layover than to try and distract a toddler from the fact that he's been traveling for nine hours and we're not even to Scotland yet. I'm babbling because I'm nervous, sorry! I just didn't want to miss blogging today, since I'm probably not going to be able to while I'm gone.

Why the random pictures of Mini Me? I just want you to see what a character he is sometimes. He's so silly! He says "Take a picture of me, Mommy!" So I do. Then "Take a picture of me making the angry face, Mommy!"

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


I know I have to take my own advice and just keep working at it, but the whole cartooning thing has been SO disappointing so far.
I'm still pretty awful with my copics, and I think Bristol paper is not ideal for copics, which makes me sad because I LOVE Bristol paper!
And I know comic book illustrators don't usually blend their colors well, but it's HARD for me to leave a hard line from one color to the next. I just don't like that look, so I've been trying really hard to figure out how to blend things better.Standing and looking at my journal while it's sitting on the table, it looks pretty fun but up close it's not to great. I can't get a handle on how to color a large section evenly - like this face. (It's Kelly!) So I just keep coloring one coat on top of the previous one and pretty soon the color gets WAY darker than it's supposed to be, which doesn't seem right. Surely there's a way to do this. I got some marker papers today - one 18 pound and one 150 pound. Maybe one of them will be better.

Monday, January 24, 2011

"I would give anything to draw like you"

Someone SAID that about one of my faces, how SWEET is that? Just for comparison, I'm posting my very first EVER "Goddess" face.Nice, huh? See, Suzi Blu kept telling me that I could draw if I just practiced. I didn't believe her, because I was 27 years old. If I had the "talent" to draw, wouldn't I have known it by then? Still, when she opened her ning site, Les Petit Academy (referred to fondly as "Suzi Skool"), I joined. What did I have to lost just by being there? I met some people during nightly chats. And then all of a sudden, HUNDRED of pictures started getting posted at the Academy - all these people could draw? How come they could and I couldn't? Wait - maybe Suzi was right, maybe I could do it? Nah. I couldn't. I was POSITIVE.

Then Suzi compared it to playing an instrument. Yes, Mozart could play and compose with no training, no practice, from the time he was four years old. But just because I'm not Mozart didn't stop me from learning to play the clarinet - I got scholarships and accepted into honor bands and colleges. I'm a good clarinet player. But was I at eleven? Not so much. I practiced. Constantly. For hours and hours and hours at a time. I never found a piece I couldn't play if I worked at it. Could drawing be that easy? Just practice until I got it right?

So I took a class. Petit Dolls. It was FUN! I loved it. Took every class she offered...and then came the Goddess and the Poet. Realistic stylized faces. Of course I could do this, why not? Suzi said I could and she'd been right so far. But I couldn't. I practiced and worked and drew and erased. I was HORRIBLE. That face up there is my first ever, but I drew dozens of awful ones. Ugly face after ugly face for weeks. I wanted to quit, to just STOP and admit that I couldn't do it. I didn't (hubby wouldn't let me) and I'm glad I didn't, but it wasn't easy. Not for me. For some people it was a piece of cake. But should I have just given up because it was harder for me? Am I not a "real" artist because I had to work at it? Maybe not, but I'm having fun and my faces make me happy! Don't tell yourself that you can't do something just because it's not easy for you or you have to work at it. Don't let anyone else tell you, either.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Strathmore workshop do-over and a cupcake

I know I've mentioned before that I've been wanting to take a class with Pam Carriker forever and I was so excited about this Strathmore class and I've been disappointed. HOWEVER. I think the only way to give it a fair chance is to stick it out.

So, I posted a few pages that weren't horrible, but I made them horrible not very long after that. I thought I was following Pam's steps, but I actually skipped the charcoal step and when I tried to use charcoal after adding oil pastels and a gesso wash, the charcoal pencil was peeling away the gesso and a layer of matte medium I'd put on after the gesso. Naturally, I got mad first, but then when I had a similar thing happen with my Ugly Me page, I figured out that it's the oil pastel making that happen - it doesn't bond with the matte medium, or gesso, or anything, so when I try to use something over it that's scratchy like a pencil, everything peels right off down to the oil pastel layer. So I re-watched the Pam videos and she used charcoal THEN oil pastel, then gesso. Got it. Started over.
She's not horrible, but I don't love her, either. We'll see if I can make something good out of her.

This is me having a cupcake at Kelly's because she said once I got 30 blog followers, we were having cupcakes!!

Then she suggested having her mom and sister follow me just to get cupcakes, but we didn't have to resort to that. Thanks, Jess, for being number 30! It's kind of amazing to think there are 30 people who want to read my silly rambles. I hope I'm at least occasionally entertaining.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Finished PanPastel girl

All finished! I haven't been giving my faces pupils lately and I'm not sure why. There's a possibility I might add them later, but I doubt it.
My friend Tal asked me if I "fixed" the pastels. I didn't. I never do. The only time I expect this page to be pretty is right NOW. If I paint on the back page and get it on this page, I don't care. If the pastels smudge all over the back of the cover, I don't care. That probably doesn't make sense to people, huh? I wish I had a good reason for that. As long as a painting makes me happy while I'm working on it and immediately after I'm finished, that's really all I ask of it. In a week I don't care about it anymore, I've moved on.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Pan Pastel Portrait

You like my alliteration? I'm totally amused by it!!

Here is it in my amazing Fabriano journal. Pencil first:
With color:
Usually, I like my pencil drawings a LOT better before I add color, but I'm actually not sure with this one. The color isn't horrible. It's not wonderful, but it's not horrible. I tend to post things half-finished on here, not sure why that is, but I'm going to post her finished (if I finish her). I'm thinking brown hair, blue or purple eyes...maybe green? And a dark blue background with yellow fearlessly flicked on it to add some silly dots (stars?). We'll see.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Week Three: The Ugly Me

I already talked about her on my blog, I think, but this was my third journal prompt for the group I'm doing at Les Petit Academy so here she is again.

That's her. The Ugly Me is someone that we don't want to admit exists. For me, she's the person who snaps at my son when she's PMSing and just can't get a handle on her emotions. She's the one who gives the finger in traffic and forgets to have patience with a child who wants to put on his own pants and doesn't WANT to get out of bed to comfort a three-year-old having a nightmare because she hasn't gotten more than four hours of sleep a night since he was born. She's the person who ignores friends' phone calls and stays offline so she doesn't have to pretend to want to talk to people when she's in a bad mood - that sometimes lasts for weeks at a time. She's the person who hides her husband's favorite pajamas when he leaves them on the bathroom floor and threatens to throw away toys when she trips over them. She is the person who wants the world to revolve around her and her needs. Most of the time I can keep her at bay but she hides in the recesses of my head and comes out when I'm alone in the car - she has long in-depth arguments and often wins. She glowers at small children who are annoying her in the grocery store and stares down anyone who gets in her way. She's not the best part of me, that's for sure. But would I be me without her? Hard to say...

We all have an ugly side, even if we don't like to admit it. If yours was a being, what would it look like?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

One of those days...

I've been working in this cartoon journal since January first. The first couple of days I just sort of sat at the table and worked in it all day long, but I can't do that all the time, right? I know I'll get better and faster the more I do this stuff, but some days are just annoying.

(Pinky the fish)

Drawing a face is a lot easier when you have room to draw it big, but when I want to put a couple of people in a scene it's really hard to draw them so small.
(Liam on his birthday)

I intended to make up a cast of characters before I started really working in this journal so I knew what people were going to look like: me, Tim, Liam, Kelly and her family, Tami, Sean and Shanti - people I see or talk to regularly. But I think a BIG part of me thought I would flake out on this project and not complete it. Maybe not even start it. So I never bothered to do that.


It's not easy for me. Not at ALL. I think "How hard is it to draw a muffin?" but then when I get started, I spend an hour drawning and erasing and drawing and erasing, and I finally Yahoo it (I don't like Google) and then it only takes me a few minutes, but I've already wasted so long trying to figure it out that I'm annoyed and I don't want to do anymore.
(Me, feeling heavy-headed)

Then there are those days (like today) where I just don't FEEL like drawing. I'm going to make myself because I want drawing to be the thing I do when I'm in this kind of mood. I want it to be my zen place. I'm never going to get there if I don't do it every day. AND I'm going to start adding color to these drawings. It's time, don't you think?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


This is the cover of my lovely new Fabriano journal!!!
I painted it Donna Downey style - a couple of colors underneath, some yellow drippage. Stamps, ink, a little embossing powder and here it is! I meant to take pictures during the process, but I always get too excited and just keep painting...

Monday, January 17, 2011

Award and Strathmore class

Joyce gave me a blog award!! It's pretty exciting because there are so many creative blogs out there, and she picked ME! I'm pretty thrilled, but not quite thrilled enough to repost it here. I'm just not a reposter or a forwarder.

My Strathmore class pages are looking worse than ever. I swear I did what Pam said - collaged, iol pastels, gesso wash. Yuck.

This one is NO WHERE NEAR this bright in real life. The picture looks a LOT better than it really looks!!

This one is the least awful of the bunch.

I thought this would be cool with the angel who's wanting to fly and the broken girl with one wing, but I dunno if it actually is cool or if it's just ugly.

And this one has too much background space, but I just don't HAVE a bunch of scraps ready to collage because of two things: one, I hate collage and am terrible at it and two, I throw things away. I am a purger. I love throwing things away. Scraps leftover from a project go in the trash.

I tossed out the scraps from making Fabriano journals when Kelly wasn't looking because I knew she wouldn't let me, but she rescued them after I left her house! We make an excellent team, don't we? :)

Anyway, I'm going to re-watch the Strathmore videos to see if there's anything I can do to these pages to make them better, but don't hold your breath.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Fabriano Journal

Why doesn't anyone SELL these? How come I can't buy journal with 140 pound hot press Fabriano Artistico already in it? Is this too much to ask? Apparently it is. So I made one, of course, because that's how I roll. Actually, Kelly and I made TWO! They're spiral-bound, with 24 sheets (48 pages), and they're 7 inches wide and 10 inches tall.

Here's the cover:
(Front and back are both the same!)

Oh, what's that inside? Fabriano paper! This is the BEST paper I've ever found for nearly every medium I've tried with it. The only thing that wasn't AMAZING on this paper was my Prismacolors.
Here it is folded back and laying on my table, all pretty and ready for me to play in!

Saturday, January 15, 2011


Do people outgrow sleepovers? I think some people probably do, especially people who don't have friends from childhood. Rarely does one adult say to another "You wanna spend the night at my house?" like children do. That being said, me and Liam spent the night at Kelly's last night. It was good times! She has crazy boys and I have a crazy boy and they mostly entertain each other when we toss them together. I like it!

Kelly and I are taking the Strathmore Visual Journal classes (they're free) and the first teacher is Pam Carriker. I was SO EXCITED - a FREE class with Pam Carriker, what could be better?!? Then the class started and I've been SUPER disappointed. I really don't WANT to make copies of my old journal pages and cut out the focal image to glue on another page. Why can't I just draw a new focal image? BUT...I've given in. For my overnight play date with Kelly, I printed some of my old stuff (times two) for us to play with and we collaged.

Then, Kelly's youngest son and Mini Me decided they wanted to collage, too! How cute is that??

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Evolution of a Pam page

OK, I really didn't think I could do this. (Maybe I can't, it's still too early to tell.) But I really like this page so far and I wanted to share it with you! It's taken FOREVER. Hours. I started this one last week at Kelly's. (I posted it then, I think)

Then I COLLAGED! (Please be proud, you know I'm a horrible collager. Collagist?) And over the collage I stamped a little more. (Pam says.)

Here it is with charcoal added around the collage elements. I'm not sure if I like the charcoal yet, but that's what Pam would do.
I'm happy with how this one is going so far. The others, not so much, but that's a story for another day...

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Layouts for Ahhh Scrap

My first ones for January:

This is a super cute kit, I REALLY love the colors! It's Amusement Park Fun by Robyn's Chic Scraps.

This one is In the Garden by Willow Grace Designs.

And this one is the January Collaboration: Let's Party. Looks like a party, huh? Sleeping boy and his Pound Puppy, Ernie.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Art Healing...

I was on blog talk radio tonight with Suzi (I know, that's nothing new) but tonight we were talking about art healing. I was hoping I wasn't going to have to talk about that but Suzi asked me to, so I did and I thought it could be today's blog post, too. This is a page from one of my first journals (I don't call it an "art journal", just a journal - less pressure that way).

I almost never talk about my "process" because I don't do anything that a million other people don't do...but this page is something that I found really healing. Brace yourself, I'm going to tell you a story.

My grandpa (John Charles Timper) was 89 when he died in 2008. I was 28 and am the youngest member of my generation of the family (his youngest grandchild). My family is SO lucky because he is the first family member we've lost. He wasn't sickly, he never suffered from any kind of dementia - sound of mind and (mostly) body right up until the end.

My son was 19 months old at the time and we were just about to move across the country. Motherhood did not come naturally to me (it was not something I ever planned to do and I struggled with it) and there was NO ONE in my life who was supporting me - not my husband, not my parents (who lived next door), and my two friends (the only ones I had at the time) both moved out of state while I was pregnant. I was in a very dark place before Grandpa died, and his death was something I didn't handle well.

My uncle is a Catholic deacon and thought it would be nice to have the youngest and oldest grandchildren do the readings at the service. I agreed, but on the condition that I was allowed to have my reading in advance so I could practice it. (I have dyslexia and reading something out loud that I've never seen before - at my grandfather's funeral - is not a good idea.) My uncle had a book, someone picked out the readings, and he jotted my name on it and tore it out of the book. When I got home to Florida (from NY), I took the reading and I tore it into a million pieces. For the first time in WEEKS, maybe even months, I smiled. I like seeing it there, torn and shredded, in a pile on my table. It was VERY satisfying.

Then I used it as the background for this page. I gave it a wash of brown paint and put a picture of Grandpa on it, along with the mass card. The green blobs were my name (written by my uncle) and the fact that it smeared made me even happier. It's difficult to explain, but somehow this page made me happy. I made others - darker ones, and brighter ones. But this was the healing one. The one page that made me feel like "Hey, maybe there IS something to this art journaling thing." Sorry if I'm stupid and sappy.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Collage (more Pam Project)

I've been trying really hard to do this correctly. People will say things like "There's no mistakes in art" and "happy accident" and "don't think too hard about it" and blah, blah, blah, but those are NOT things I believe. If I make a mark I don't like in my art, I erase it. Sometimes I have to "erase" using paint. No problem. Lots of people can collage fast and furious and things look wonderful or if they DON'T look wonderful, they have a way to make it look wonderful. One of the reasons I suck at collage is because I'm not interested in those strange, unsmiling old people. I'm just not. Sorry. You don't scrapbook strangers, why would you make art out of strangers? I also don't understand the obsession with eggs and birds and butterflies. My word is trains and legos and How to Train Your Dragon and Mr. Men books. Not butterflies and eggs. So working in this way is difficult for me. BUT if The Tessha Project taught me anything, it's that if I don't give up at the first sign on "this makes me uncomfortable" then I can sometimes make something I like!

These first two I painted under Kelly's careful instruction - at her house, with her guiding me every step of the way and in Pam's colors.The bat is (naturally) my favorite part. But I'm pretty OK with the rest of it, too. It's not horrible. (Maybe you think it is, but I'm sort of liking it.)

So far, just a door and a butterfly here. Baby steps.
Here I have a clock and a car - probably not what Pam would do, but it's still her process, right? And in the upper right corner, that's a napkin from Caribou Coffee.

This is Rylee, she lives next door to me and I gave her a flower, a butterfly and a piece of music paper torn out of a church bulletin (no the church did NOT burn down while I was inside it).
Pam says "collage around the edges until you're happy with it" but I'm too nervous to collage anymore today. It's ridiculous, I'm a grown woman and you'd think the matte medium was going to attack me I'm so nervous about collaging. Really, what's the WORST thing that's going to happen? But I just get really nervous! AFTER I had all these little tiny things in place I remembered that Pam usually places all of her collage, THEN glues it down. Maybe next time I'll try that.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Week Two: I hate my handwriting.

(Again, this is for a journalling group at La Petit Academy)

We all do. It's just how it is. As I see it, you have three options. 1. Live with it. 2. Don't write in your journals. 3. Change it. My handwriting is quick and sloppy. When I'm making a grocery list, leaving someone a note, or scribbling directions, I don't care. I make loopy Es and funky looking Ks and I have severe dyslexia, so letters that have been wasy for most people to write since kindergarten are still difficult for me at 30 years old. But in my journals, I want something different. When I first started posting journal pages on my page here at the Academy I got all these comments about how people loved my lettering and I was so surprised, I would go look at the page they were talking about and think "Really? What's so impressive about that?"

And then I was even more surprised when people would say things like "I wish I could do that" or "I want to learn to do that". What's stopping you? If you want to change the way your writing looks in your journals, CHANGE IT. You can. I promise. Why would you think you couldn't?

There is NOTHING special about the writing on this page - a loop here, a swirl there. If my word has an L in it, I like to make the bottom part long and put the next letter on top of it. If there are two Os, I like to stack them on top of each other. Sometimes I draw lines and don't let anything hang over the bottom like a P or a G. There's no secret to it. Try it. (Please excuse the picture quality - I can't seem to get a good one for some reason. Camera, phone, nothing makes it look right. And before you suggest going outside, remember that I live in Minnesota and there are piles of snow twice my height out there.)

Here is one of the first ones I ever did, one of my first Goddess/Poet drawings with words on it.

"I am afraid to dream". It's what was on my mind at that moment. Is it amazing? Nope. To me, it's nothing special at all. It's not spectacular, it doesn't say anything that important. It's just me. But sometimes the easiest way to use someone else's handwriting is to use someone else's words. Start with quotes. The quote doesn't have to have ANYTHING to do with the picture you're going to put it on. That's the beauty of being an artist - no one expects you to make sense. You're allowed to be completely insane if you feel like it!

This is on the cover of a journal that I made:

Letters inside boxes:

Another one of my first attempts:

I want to leave you with a thought. My grandma is 87. She hates her handwriting. She uses a very distinct mixture of print and cursive (quite unusual for her generation) that all of us grandkids LOVE. One day I won't have grandma in the flesh anymore. Yes, I'll have pictures and memories, but I won't have her voice, her hug, the feel of her super-soft skin, her scent. The cards I've saved from her and things that she touched. She wrote. She spent a few minutes thinking of me and writing to me in her strange and wonderful handwriting that she hates and we love.