Saturday, December 29, 2012

for the end of 2012

Since the Mayan Armageddon didn't come, why don't you get out some art supplies and enjoy life!

"Observe the wonders as they occur around you. Don't claim them. Feel the artistry moving through, and be silent." --Rumi

Thursday, December 20, 2012

It's all good.

"Every object and being in the universe is a jar overflowing with wisdom and beauty, a drop of the Tigris that cannot be contained by any skin. Every jarful spills and makes the earth more shining, as though covered in satin."  --Rumi 

Friday, December 7, 2012

where are you going today?

This sentence from an artist's bio got my attention:

Hali Karla is a paint-slinging, word-wrangling, music-loving, earth-walking Artist devoted to communing with Creative Mystery through the intentional exploration of the river where spiritual practice joins creative process.

How can we not be inspired by those words?

Friday, November 30, 2012

In the flow . . . .

Viparita Karani is a yoga pose, where you lay flat on the floor with your butt against the wall and your legs straight up against the wall. It is wonderful for lower back pain. I used to do this pose all the time, and somehow lost it, then I saw the name for it on a yoga chart. As soon as I wrote down the name, the pose came back into the front of my consciousness. So now, I am doing it again. No more back pain. When the timing is right, the inspiration comes. and I'll share a little secret here -- now that I've journaled about this pose, I will never forget it again. That's one example how journaling can truly help you in life.
"There is an art to wandering. If I have a destination, a plan – an objective – I've lost the ability to find serendipity. I am on a quest, not a ramble. I search for the Holy Grail of particularity and miss the chalice freely offered, filled and overflowing." --Cathy Johnson

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


Yesterday I went downtown to scope out Strange Grounds Coffee on Broadway, where I will have a table at a craft fair. Oh la la. I had the best breakfast ever, sausage and egg with grilled onions, sour cream, and avocado! Low carb, too. and the coffee . . . just magnificent. I now have a new special spot for journaling out in the world, and plan on making this a frequent outing. Working in your journal in a creative atmosphere is really a treat, give yourself an early holiday gift and try it! "Grace emerges in the ebb and flow, not just the flow. The waning reveals a different kind of blessing than the waxing. But whether it's our time to ferment in the valley of shadows or rise up singing in the sun-splashed meadow, fresh power to transform ourselves is always on the way. Our suffering won't last, nor will our triumph. Without fail, life will deliver the creative energy we need to change into the new thing we must become." --Rob Brezsny

Monday, November 19, 2012

And the holidays begin. . .

So it begins. I got the dog a Xmas sweater, and hung lots of blue lights on the house, two things that cheered me up.
I somewhat love the holidays, the cooking and gathering, the shopping and wrapping, the lists of cards to mail.
But it is stressful, the parties or non-parties, the wondering if I need to leave the mailperson a tip, the family members who are too far away to see, and others who show up. So this year I am going to look for the magic. Some wonderful hot chocolate and a good movie on TV. I am working with my thoughts to keep everything positive, and when the negative comes along, I gently remind it that it needs to keep on its way, and not start a loop in my head.

And working in my journal does always help me to remember this.
So as the days get shorter, and colder, and the chores pile up, I will stop and breathe, work a bit in my journal, look out the window at the falling leaves, and connect with the beauty that is always in eyesight if you look for it.
"To finish the moment, to find the journey's end in every step of the road, to live in the greatest number of good hours, is wisdom." --Ralph Waldo Emerson

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Stormy weather

Sandy, the hurricane, ripped up my beloved Jersey Shore. A friend of my son's boss said her beach house was gone. Totally disappeared into the sea.
Not even a wooden board left as a memento!
As we come to that infamous date 12/21/12 I think we are all noticing some tumult and chaos in our lives and relationships, and certainly the news has been a bit horrific, and worth not paying as much attention to as we are tempted to do.
I am considering all this in my journal, exploring it, separating myself a bit from the chaos, and trying to let the storm blow over.
"Things that matter most must never be
at the mercy of things that matter least." --Goethe

Friday, November 2, 2012

Design work

I have some book design work which is keeping me busy, but my journal is patiently awaiting my attention, and you will be the first to know when I update; stay tuned for some eraser carving, as well!
 "The dark thought, the same, the shame, the malice, meet them at the door laughing, and invite them in. Be grateful for whoever comes, because each guest has been sent as a guide from beyond." --Rumi

Sunday, October 28, 2012

What will you choose today?

"No matter what happens in the outer world we do have the opportunity to shift our level of consciousness. Mystics have been able to do this for thousands of years. Do you want to live from a consciousness where you feed the drama or do you want to live from a consciousness that feeds the light, love, and beauty of this world?"  --Sandra Ingerman

Friday, October 19, 2012


Today we had our monthly journaling group.
I did a little demo (very little) of zentangles, and then we worked contemplatively for an hour. It actually was quite magical.
Something about all 7 of us working with the same energy and focus seemed to multiply the effect. We all really zoned out and just emptied our brains of everything but these little amazing doodles for the whole hour. When we shared at the end of the sessions, almost everyone said the same thing, "I zoned out and it felt like a meditation, and the hour flew by."
I will show you some of these little doodle details and you'll see what I mean about becoming lost in the dots and swirls and patterns. I probably will add some words on this page.
Perhaps this whole zen/empty thing will allow me to let my pages be a bit more spare, instead of so jumbled. and for sure, a less jumbled brain would be pretty awesome, too. In fact, a less jumbled everything would be a great organizational theme I could use in my life.
Thanks, Journal!

“As elephants remember India perfectly, as mind dissolves, as song begins, as the glass fills, wind rising, a roomful of conversation, a sanctuary of prostration, a bird lights on my hand in this day born of friends, an ocean covering everything, all roads opening, a person changing to kindness. . . ” --Rumi

Monday, October 15, 2012


Sometimes being unproductive is not being unproductive at all. We need time to digest and try, time to start and stop and wander and experiment. Not all our hours result in beautiful things. But the seeds of the beautiful things are always there, in the time we spent. Allow yourself that freedom, to not make anything important today.
"I'm working on a few different stories at the moment. It's hard to tell which of them, if any, will turn into a book. If I understood about how to write books, I wouldn't have to travel down so many roads to nowhere, and I wouldn't go three or four years between novels." --John Green

Monday, September 24, 2012

Journal Challenge

I am doing a 5 day challenge with a holistic health coach based in Boston, Dillan DiGiovanni called 5 Days of Fearless Living.
If you go to Dillan's website  you can register.
There is also a facebook group for sharing ideas and progress, all for free.
Each day for 5 days, you will get a Fearless Living Challenge sent to you via e-mail.
Mine are to: eat no sugar, do some yoga, and not worry about how the class I am teaching today turns out.
I decided to do journal pages for each of these daily challenges, so here is my first one.  Why don't you join me?
Also from Dillan's challenge today:
A Cherokee elder was teaching his children about life.
"A fight is going on inside me," he said to them.
"It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil - he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego."
He continued, "The other is good - he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you - and inside every other person, too."
The grandchildren thought about it and after a minute one of them asked, "Which wolf will win?"
The elder simply replied, "The one you feed."

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Meditation on Mushrooms

Yesterday our monthly journaling group started up again after a Summer break. I brought along some photos of some glorious mushrooms that I bought at the Boulder Farmer's Market last weekend. I bought them to cook up in an omelet, but before they were subject to the fire, I just had to spread them out on the counter to photograph them, they were that beautiful.
To take the time to honor wonderful beauty and wonderful food is something I want to remember to do.
And the time spent in the presence of others, all working silently in our journals together is another way to honor beauty. To say it's worth our time to just collage a bunch of photos of mushrooms, to add some color and doodling and words, not expecting anyone to buy anything, to give me fame or fortune for becoming good at this work, not expecting a book deal, a lecture invitation, or a paycheck.
Yet I still do this work.

Someone at our group who is new to journaling mentioned that she was disappointed in her page in the journal, that it felt contrived.
My answer to that is so did the first 20 journals I did that fill up my shelves. That expecting to find truth in one two hour effort perhaps is expecting too much. So often, we want our effort to be rewarded instantly. Malcolm Gladwell tells us that it takes 10,000 hours to be an expert at anything. I don't think anyone sits down at a piano, and expects to play Paganini after a few hours of learning about playing.

I am always surprised that most people seem to think art is something people just know how to do, and not something that is learned with years and years of practice. I do love this mushroom journal page I did yesterday in our group. but I have also done hundreds, maybe thousands, of pages that did not please me as much. It's a journey. It takes a long time, and lots of dedication.
Over the last ten years, I worked in my journal so many times instead of cleaning the house, or watching TV, or earning money at a job, or socializing. I took a large chunk of my working life and spent it doing art journaling.

Sometimes I think that was crazy, but then one person will tell me learning to do this work helped them. That learning to take images and colors and doodling and words suddenly revealed something they needed to learn, something they needed to manifest, something they wanted to understand. So this is all for those few people who discover something amazing and deep.
So back to the mushrooms, to honor my love for these fungi by creating a beautiful page reminds me there is joy in these small things in life. and that it is worth our lives to celebrate this.

 "A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world." --Oscar Wilde

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Fall Colors

"I'm sick of following my dreams. I'm just going to ask them where they're goin', and hook up with them later." --Mitch Hedberg

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

on travel

Thomas Jefferson wrote to his nephew on August 10, 1787:
"Travelling. This makes men wiser, but less happy. When men of sober age travel, they gather knowledge, which they may apply usefully for their country; but they are subject ever after to recollections mixed with regret; their affections are weakened by being extended over more objects; & they learn new habits which cannot be gratified when they return home. Young men, who travel, are exposed to all these inconveniences in a higher degree, to others still more serious, and do not acquire that wisdom for which a previous foundation is requisite, by repeated and just observations at home.
The glare of pomp and pleasure is analogous to the motion of the blood; it absorbs all their affection and attention, they are torn from it as from the only good in this world, and return to their home as to a place of exile & condemnation. Their eyes are forever turned back to the object they have lost, & its recollection poisons the residue of their lives. Their first & most delicate passions are hackneyed on unworthy objects here, & they carry home the dregs, insufficient to make themselves or anybody else happy. Add to this, that a habit of idleness, an inability to apply themselves to business is acquired, & renders them useless to themselves & their country. These observations are founded in experience.
There is no place where your pursuit of knowledge will be so little obstructed by foreign objects, as in your own country, nor any, wherein the virtues of the heart will be less exposed to be weakened. Be good, be learned, & be industrious, & you will not want the aid of travelling, to render you precious to your country, dear to your friends, happy within yourself. I repeat my advice, to take a great deal of exercise, & on foot. Health is the first requisite after morality.
Write to me often, & be assured of the interest I take in your success, as well as the warmth of those sentiments of attachment with which I am, dear Peter, your affectionate friend."

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


We all have heard that idea from Joseph Campbell that we are to follow our bliss.
What is your bliss?
and how do you find out what it is?
For me, it has involved a long road of trying lots of things:
some false starts, some "non-productive" projects which might have appeared to not have a point, but later had an obvious message or lesson, and some detours of service to loved ones and the compromise we all face when working in a family.
Often I need to remind myself each day what my bliss really is.
Once you've found it, following it should come easily. No?
For me, it seems an ongoing job to stay on the path, avoiding those distractions, that empty busy-ness, and that my mind takes me to despair about the world's problems that are way beyond my control.
But my bliss is always there in the end, gently encouraging me to follow it, to focus on it, to remember that adding my own joy to the world does way more than foundering in random hopelessness of the global struggles today.

How about you?
"Passion is the mother of all my magic." --Phillip Petit

Monday, September 10, 2012


Showing up -- I once had someone at one of my art shows ask me how in the world I came up with my ideas? I think they thought I just snapped my fingers, and had some original artwork.
The answer is that I come to the studio every day, and work.
Or play, depending on what my mood is.
and the secret is that those are both the same thing.

I think if anyone surrounded themselves with lush materials, put it all in an inspirational space, and spent 8 hours there every day, they also would come up with wonderful things. But first, you do have to put yourself there. I have cups of juicy markers, stacks of ink pads, piles and piles and piles (and more piles) of interesting papers, magazines, books, wrapping paper, postcards, ephermera, all ready to be cut up and torn up. I have lots of different kinds of glues and connecting material, including colored staples, tape, spray mount, and a sewing maching. and, for better or worse, I have a computer with this internet thing, where I can google art journaling, and come up with ten thousand ideas in a heartbeat.

The trick is, at some point, to stop LOOKING and start DOING. So, let's get on with it.
Happy Journaling!
"I don't read music. I don't write it. So I wander around on the guitar until something starts to present itself."     --James Taylor

Friday, September 7, 2012


I just opened my e-mail and got a lovely note from across the globe.
Denise Daffara, from Australia, sent a photo of a journal page she created using a piece of mail art I had sent her as a RAAK. She also shared how she is in a subscription journaling group with a bunch of lively gals here from the States called the Cosmic Cowgirls, and works with on-line videos from Effy Wild.
Isn't it amazing the way we can do this work with others from around the world? In my journaling work, I often talk about moving inward, using this as a creative outlet to find my voice. But the other side of the coin is we can journal in community, build authentic and wonderful connections with others in a collaborative way.
To share journaling with others, I offer Art Journal Parties, and I offer a free once a month local group at my Unitarian Church (I guess I need to make a webpage for that!)
And of course, this blog, which is my way to share ideas with journalers too numerous to count, (well, I guess someone is counting -- 89171 hits so far according to that little box down there on the right.)
SO, here I sit, 4:20 in the morning (yup, couldn't sleep), sipping some marvelous coffee, receiving marvelous words from another artist on the other side of the planet where it is probably 4:20 in the afternoon, reading Denise's lovely words of kindness, gratitude and love.
and do check out her artwork, very cute!
Isn't it wonderful that we can work together to make journals?
Here is our collaboration:

"Let's you and I conjure together. You watch me and I'll watch you and I will show you how to show me how to show you how to do our marvelous human tricks together." --Courtney Milne

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

finding peace in frantic world

This can be hard. This "living life" stuff.
I sometimes feel like I learn the lessons over and over.
My 17 year old daughter sometimes tells me to take a deep breath and relax, that I am SO stressed.
and I take her advice.
There is so much in this life to distract us from our joy.
Today, my car battery died, I had to make decisions about our basement with the builder (we had a flood), I had a big art sale (WOOHOO) that needed credit card processing, I had prescriptions run out with no refills, and a soap order to get out.
This all seemed to happen at once.
I had my phone and computer going at the same time, trying to get all this done.
Then, stop.

I made a new batch of soap and it is curing on the table right next to me, the deep sweet smell of olive and coconut oils, shea butter, and lemony vervain is floating around my head, giving me a nice dose of aromatherapy.
I have had people ask me how I have time for art journaling, my answer is I don't have time NOT to work in my journal, that this work is what keeps me able to do all the other things on my to-do list which make me crazy and frantic.
That, and breathing.

Everyone sees the unseen in proportion to the clarity of his heart, and that depends upon how much he has polished it. Whoever has polished it more sees more - more unseen forms become manifest to him. --Rumi

Monday, September 3, 2012


Work from long ago.
I am getting some of my older work organized and sorted. A studio flood resulted in most of my work on paper being ruined. Twenty years of work. Sad, true, yet it also has made me look at what I have done, and think a little about how to get some of these things into the world. Sharing here, sharing in workshops, sharing in galleries, it's all good.
It is also nice to have a conversation with the past creative work I have done, as well as to have an understanding the greater good is part of why I am doing this work, so telling the story of my work is an important part of the life of the art.
"Do not measure in terms of time: one year or ten years means nothing.
For the artist there is no counting or tallying up; just ripening like
the tree that does not force its sap and endures the storms of spring
without fearing that summer will not come.
But it will come. It comes…"

Saturday, September 1, 2012


Now, right now, sitting in front of your computer, browsing the internet, looking at this and that, probably a bit distracted and maybe thinking about going to the fridge, or checking your e-mail, or wondering why you aren't sitting at your studio desk in front of your collage papers and journal, doing SOMETHING other than just mindlessly browsing. . . .
Breathe in deep.
and imagine the life your grand- or great-grandparents lived.  Imagine if they woke up one morning in your shoes, and learned of indoor plumbing, houses heated and cooled to whatever temperature was desired, a fridge full of food, some of it flown to them from across the planet. 
A car in the driveway to take them to the store if they needed milk.
A plastic and metal box with 10,000 movies in it, ready to be watched instantly.
Imagine them looking in your closet, and seeing your clothes and shoes and warm coats and workout gear.   Sneakers and sandals and footwear in exactly their right size.
Imagine them discovering the internet, a place where they could buy the exactly perfect boots they were seeking on ebay, read the current news from around the world, send a twitter message to be seen by 428 of their closest friends, look up the price of a plane ticket to NYC in a month, even though they didn't plan on going. 
Imagine them learning that any information, ANY INFORMATION they sought could be found with a little searching on Google. 
Imagine explaining to them that any music they wanted to hear, any art they were curious about seeing, any facade of any famous building could be seen right then.
What an amazing place this world is.  Humans have created magnificence and beauty, since blowing chalk dust around their hands in a cave 30,000 years ago, we have had this ability to feel wonder at the world around us.
Last night as a blue moon shone through the Colorado cloudy sky,  I was lucky enough to gather in a circle with about 40 other people, and light some candles and think about how blessed we are. 
In ways we seem to forget every day.
Such magic around us.
Such wonder.
"Realizing your heart’s desire doesn’t require striving, it requires surrender.”  --Lisa King

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Some goals.

 I want to do more of these things in my life:
1. Recycle, Reduce, Reuse.
2. Compost.
3. Grow an edible/medicinal landscape = more basil and beans, less grass.
4. Buy local, organic and fair trade.
5. Use alternative energy.
6. Get to know neighbors, share.

Babysteps to a better world.

"Only when the last river has been polluted, and the last tree been cut down, and the last fish been caught, will we realise we cannot eat money."   -Cree saying

Sunday, August 19, 2012


"Pinterest, ugh."  I thought.
Another place on the internet to pull me away from my work, hours of mindless browsing that keeps my hands away from my own pens and papers and glues and paints and inks and scissors.

But the truth is, there is so much amazing inspiration to be had out there, it is worth browsing if you can pull yourself away after a time, and open up your own journal.  (maybe set a timer!)
I have been posting inspiring journaling images on THIS BOARD, these are not my own pages, but a portfolio of other artists' work from all over the world.
Have a peek.
Get inspired.
Then DO go to your own work space and do some journaling.

Happy Sunday.

“The main thing is to be moved, to love, to hope, to tremble, to live.”
--Auguste Rodin

Monday, August 13, 2012

my last week of summer. . .

I like a road that doesn’t know just where it wants to go,
a road that’s always wandering and turning to and fro…
following a winding stream, or curving round a shore.
Making loops upon a hill to reach the valley floor.
I feel akin to vagrant roads for I like best to roam
not knowing until evening comes what place I call my home.
--Rachel Hartnett

Friday, August 3, 2012

Celebrating life's very small accomplishments

I have a friend with an autistic son. He went away to a special school, and of course she was quite worried about him. When he came home from the first break, he showed her his cell phone and the fact that he now had a friend listed there, with a phone number. She was overjoyed for him and so very proud of this accomplishment.
In life, we often look at the highest achievers to compare ourselves to, our society tends to focus on the winners in our culture of celebrity; the gold medal Olympic athletes, the Hollywood superstars, the mega millionaires . . . .

When we say "I wrote a book" it feels like it is not an achievement unless we can add the words "and it sold ten thousand copies!" I am here to remind us all that each small accomplishment in our lives is wonderful. That sometimes just getting up to face the difficult tasks of the day is a glorious achievement.

I was sharing last night in a group that I have been feeling very unruddered lately, unsure of my next step, not clear in my personal path right now, and how that makes me feel so unaccomplished. Thinking more about why I feel this way, I realize I've been caught up in our competitive society's thinking that unless we are at the top, we are nowhere.

Phooey to that.
I am going to choose not to get caught up in the whirlwind of defining success by the media's terms. I am so impressed by Olympic athletes, amazed at the hard work of best-selling authors, interested in those people who make statements the whole world can hear.
But I am equally proud of a differently-abled person who manages to get his very first friend listed on his cell phone.  He deserves a medal, too.

“There is a candle in your heart, ready to be kindled.
There is a void in your soul, ready to be filled.
You feel it, don't you?”

Sunday, June 24, 2012

art workshop page

"Nothing can cure the soul but the senses, just as nothing can cure the senses but the soul." --Oscar Wilde

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

a Solstice page, step by step

Today is the longest day of the year, Solstice; and a time I am grateful to be in this sunny climate, able to be telling the stories of my life by working in my journal.
I thought I would show you step by step the process of making a page. Mixed media really is all about layers, layers, and more layers. The richness in the collage comes from using lots of different media to add depth to the work. So, let's begin: I started with a fold out page in my hand-made journal, sprayed with a bit of red ink.
Then I assembled a little pile of papers that seemed to like being near each other; some wrapping paper, a page from a book, some painted paper I had scanned and printed, and bits of a map.  Keep that scrap bag of papers handy, you might be grabbing some more as you go.
Tearing bits and pieces, I made a layout that I liked, with a few large images in the center and a border made of strips of different torn papers.  I used a metal tear bar with a crinkly edge to help make straight but interesting looking strips.
Outside, I spray glue on the pieces a few at a time in the glue box.  I use an old catalog under the pieces I am spraying, so I can turn the page each time and always have a clean underlayment to spray on.
Here's what it looked like once I got those papers attached; yup, it's a bit different from the layout, that's what happens when you take your work outside and take it apart to glue it, some things end up in new places.  That's okay!  and the page from the book tore because it stuck to my fingers, again, not a problem.  Happy accidents = interesting work.
I draw a light pencil outline of a figure on the page, and get ready to paint.
Some watercolor to outline the figure, keeping the wash light enough to let the papers show through.
I add some marker to outline the face and figure a bit, and start lettering.  I like to use lighter color Copic markers to make the larger letters, and outline them in black.
I felt like the figure needed more defining, so I stamped a spirally pattern on the clothes.  Seriously, I have never been sorry when I stamped a spirally pattern on anything.  You just can't go wrong with spirals.
and a few details showing some of the stamping.  I like to use a date stamp somewhere on each page.  and that confidential stamp always works.
and here is the finished page:
"Let us now crawl under the canopy of the currant leaves, and tell stories.  Let us inhabit the underworld.  Let us take possession of our secret territory."  --Virginia Woolf

Monday, June 18, 2012

journaling in community

I was hired to teach a one day workshop to a group of talented, inspiring women in Bailey, Colorado. The historic cabin we worked in was an 111-year old log building, originally a post office. It was right on the banks of the Platte River, and surrounded by pines trees and huge rock outcroppings.  There were hand carved details in the woodwork, some awesome antique finishes in the cabin, and lots of art created by previous owners, who were well known artists.  HERE is more info on the cabin.

And the setting itself was so wonderful -- I would have liked to wander around outside more with my camera, and some watercolor paints and sketchbook to capture some of the detail of the place. (note to self, go back to paint outside!)

For our one day workshop, we worked in the morning tearing watercolor paper into thirds and hand binding the pages to be an eight page, fold-out journal. We then painted the pages, and let them dry while we enjoyed a marvelous lunch. Then we had the afternoon to tear and cut and play with paper and color and ink and chalk. Beautiful pages were made, and meaningful conversations were had. I hope again to take some groups up to this magical place to work together in our journals, and I can't think of a better place to be surrounded with beauty and quiet.

Here is a link to the art journal party page where I posted more images of our day, with some information on the cabin itself, and how to schedule a workshop.
"Little by little, one travels far." --J. R. R. Tolkien