Journaling Current Events

Are you having trouble coming up with an idea for a journal entry? Are you looking for journal prompts?  Sometimes the best ideas can be plucked from the news. It can be as simple as adding an image, as in my quick take on Monday’s Super-Moon.


Along with my soluble ink and watercolor wash I used a bit of Titanium White gouache for the moon. Nice and opaque… I’m liking that.

And today is the third annual World Elephant Day. A little web search found a host of activities going on… too bad the day will soon be over. Instead I created my own homage. A few years ago I inherited a lovely book, The Eye of the Elephant by Delia and Mark Owens; it tells the personal story of the authors’ quest to save the endangered elephants of Zambia. I’ve always loved their cover image… to me elephants really are the soul of Africa. My copy of it became a way to remember how treasured they should be.


And then there’s Robin Williams. As one who’s had friends and family members who suffered with depression, and ultimately suicide, my wounds go deep. There will be pages. Reflections, maybe even images.

Quinn McDonald said it well today.

None of us knew Robin William’s suffering, but we know that silence is a killer. Our culture doesn’t approve of any perceived mental weakness, and the more the secret of depression is kept, the bigger the horror of it grows.

Allow the pain in your life to speak. Give your friend, your relative, your lover, your partner the gift of the question that heals: Why do you suffer so?

If you know someone who needs to talk, or if you do, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-TALK (8255). The group is a series of 163 crisis centers in 49 states. Your call is confidential.

Think You Can’t Paint? Just Try the Waterlogue App!

Have you ever taken a photo and said… “I’m going to paint this scene after I’m home!” … and then never did?

Well, that’s TOTALLY my M.O.! So many photographs, so little time! I took this photo of shorebirds on my recent trip to San Diego. (I tried looking them up… are they Marbled Godwits?)  I was definitely going to take my watercolors out and paint them.

Marbled Godwit

BWA-HA-HA!!!!!     … that was a month ago.

Enter the Waterlogue app. First off… you’ll need and Apple iPhone, iPad or iPod touch running iOS 7. The two creators, John Balestrieri and Robert Clair are working on a version that will run on a desktop/laptop Mac running OSX but it isn’t available yet. And sorry, you Android folks are out of luck.

Waterlogue will allow you to choose from 12 algorithms and paints an image as you might, sketching first, then painting light to dark.

Click each image to enlarge.

Waterlogue - Natural

Waterlogue – Natural

Waterlogue - Bold

Waterlogue – Bold

Waterlogue - Luminous

Waterlogue – Luminous

Waterlogue - It's Technical

Waterlogue – It’s Technical

Waterlogue - Travelogue

Waterlogue – Travelogue

Waterlogue - Rainy

Waterlogue – Rainy

Waterlogue - Illustration

Waterlogue – Illustration

Waterlogue - Soaked

Waterlogue – Soaked

Waterlogue - Shallow

Waterlogue – Shallow

Waterlogue - Color Bloom

Waterlogue – Color Bloom

Waterlogue - Fashionable

Waterlogue – Fashionable

Waterlogue - Blotted

Waterlogue – Blotted

I’m rather fond of Natural and Color Bloom but each choice is amazing!

Is it original art? No, after all, it’s still a copy. Will I give up my watercolors? Heck no! But this is so much fun just for the immediacy of it, I envision using it as a model to emulate with my brush and paints.

It’s the best $2.99 I’ve ever spent! Find it in the App Store and prepare to lose yourself as you play. Isn’t that what art’s all about anyway?

Stephanie Reininger – Watercolor Demo at Long River Studios

Saturday, April 19th was the date of World Wide SketchCrawl #43! Coincidentally, I went to an artist demonstration at Long River Studios, a gallery in Lyme, NH that specializes in works by local artists. Hmmmm… two birds, one stone?

Long River Studio

Stephanie Reininger, a watercolorist, demonstrated her loose and expressive style for a group of avid admirers. I did a quick gesture sketch to document my day and then settled in to absorb her fluid watercolor technique and try to grasp as much technical information as possible.



S.R. Palette


Thank you David and Lisa Chelone for bringing this unique experience to your gallery!  We all were blown away by your open and welcoming friendship, and of course, the awesome blueberry buckle!

And special thanks to Stephanie Reininger! You’ve inspired me to work larger and outside my beloved sketchbook!

S.R.5One last thank you… to Michelle Goldsmith, who spied the advertisement and gave me a quick email!  You’re the best!



More EDMs and a New Challenge

140227 edm17I’m still working on my EveryDay Matters Challenges.

140304 edm16There’s never an excuse for not having any inspiration for drawing; the EDM list is long and varied. So I figure… if one challenge is good why not another? I just found Journal52. One prompt and a little inspiration each week… check out the blog to see what has been suggested this far.

140303 j52-1I’m not much of a mixed media artist so I’m doing it my way. Am I behind? You bet but I’m undaunted; catching up is fun!





Watch… Then Draw.

I’m a big fan of an artist from the Netherlands, Koosja Koene. She’s a prolific artist and blogger, teaches online classes and submits recipe pages to They Draw and Cook. She is one busy woman! I really love her short drawing videos she uploads on Tuesdays, appropriately named:  Draw Tip Tuesday!  They’re so much fun and her enthusiasm is infectious!

Last week I spent an afternoon with Koosje and my watercolors.  I watched her paint an orange and then tried it myself.  It’s not really a paint-along technique since her videos are greatly sped up but it’s helpful to watch her technique.  I’ve nowhere the skill as Koosje but I’m still rather pleased with my first attempt.

140202 orange

I then watched one on Do It Yourself Postcards.  She divided the page and drew small simplified thumbnail sketches of shirts… all types of shirts.  Koosje colored them with colored pencil but I chose to use watercolor.  I might try her suggestion to paint a collection of shoes next time… or even handbags.  Goodness knows I have TONS!

140131 shirts

She’s a wealth of knowledge and inspiration and her videos are a sure bet to kick you out of the winter doldrums.

Koosje’s collected videos can also be found on her YouTube video channel as well.  There are over 50 but they’re short.  If you have self control you won’t have to watch them all in an afternoon like I did! 😉

Breaking a Slump

Today as I got on the treadmill for my regular 50 minute trek I pulled out my iPod and plugged in my earphones.

HORRORS!!! … the battery had no juice!

Now I shouldn’t have been shocked by this.  I’ve been in a bit of a slump. Two weeks have passed without me going to the gym.  My music just sat in the bag, all its charge draining away.  This slump has also invaded my artistic life.  Sure, I’ve been working on lessons for a class I’m taking… but my daily personal journal?  … the one I take with me everywhere… uh, no new entries.

So I gave myself a kick in the butt, put on my gear and got back on the treadmill.  I was a bit concerned about my lack of tunes.  Could I go the distance?  Would I give up early?

I did not!  In fact, I had an amazing workout!  And no, I didn’t  walk longer or harder, nor did I break any records.  But I did have breakthrough.  No longer bound to mentally sing along with my playlist, my brain was free to just wander.  I planned this post and another and decided how I wanted to finish a few sketchbooks I’m binding.  I even decided how to break the stalemate I have with my journal.

140204 iPod

So, next time you find yourself in a slump try a little exercise and be sure to try it at least once without a soundtrack.  Just go where your body and mind takes you.

Why Keep a Journal

Your journal can be a memory keeper and a tool for inner exploration.  It is a receptacle for your hopes and dreams and an incubator for your creative expression.  You can create a journal meant for public consumption, as an Art Journal would be, or it can be private, a place where you can bare your soul.  You can use it to hold ideas not quite formed… a place where you can return time and time again to revisit those ideas and build on them.

In the last few weeks I’ve watched this video innumerable times.  It speaks to me.  I do bind my own journals, not exactly like these, but my intent is the same.  My journal is my friend and accompanies me as I travel through life.  A place for reflection.

Many thanks to Mary Ann Moss of Dispatch from LA for bringing this to my attention in her blog post.

I’ll show you a few of my journals next time… ’till then, please enjoy listening to the birds and visualizing yourself inside these lush images of Penland, North Carolina where Paulus and his students create their books, or as Paulus says himself… “portable studio”.

Soul’s Kitchen from TOTM Film on Vimeo

Last days at the MFA!

Road trip! …words that make my heart sing!

We set off Monday morning on a long awaited excursion to see the John Singer Sargent exhibit at the MFA… Museum of Fine Arts.  And oh what a glorious day it was!   Sunny and warm and no accidents on the highway to slow us down.  We did make a wrong turn but even that surprise didn’t ruin our day.  Google’s map girl to the rescue!  She led us through downtown Boston twisting and turning past plenty of city landmarks.

140113a Prudential

Thank goodness for smartphones with navigation.  She led us directly to the museum.

140113b MFA

It does my heart good to see how many young people were in line; the gallery was packed!


The John Singer Sargent Watercolors exhibit was everything I expected and more.  Almost 100 pieces are exhibited in the Gund Gallery on the lowest level of the Art of the Americas wing.


Museum rules prevent me from sharing the photos I took of his work but follow the links here to see two of my favorites.  La Biancheria (1910) shows laundry drying in the sun. JSS is masterful as he paints the whites of the shirts and sheets along with the shadows. Boboli (1906) is a painting of a statue in the Boboli Gardens in Florence, Italy.  I was completely taken by his treatment of the shadows on the pedestal.  If you zoom in to see either of these images just imagine me, my eyes just inches from the paper.  I was mesmerized.

I highly recommend a visit but unfortunately, there are only days left to see the exhibit in Boston… it closes Monday January 20th.

Of course, if you prefer, you can always see it in Houston, Texas, March 2 – May 26.  The drive may be a bit longer.  I’m sure Google’s map girl will help you too.

I’ve Chosen My Word for 2014

Intentions, not resolutions… that’s what it’s come down to.

Resolutions often focus on the negative, on resolving to fix something wrong, to quit something.  Often these resolutions are broken in under a week.  Sigh… more negativity.

But an intention is positive.  I will… I can!

Each year the blogosphere is buzzing with choosing a word for the year. It’s meant to express an intention for the upcoming year and become a mantra to help each of us stay the course.  In 2012 my word wasn’t a word, it was a phrase. I just couldn’t seem to distill it down to one – single – word.

If not now… when?

It propelled me to participate in the International Fake Journal Month and led me to sign up for book binding classes among other things.  It served me well.

2013 arrived and my word screamed to me!


Out with the old and in with the new. It’s been a year of change and decluttering, so much that I actually feel lighter. My quilting UFOs were weighing me down and all the fabric I was never going to use, a bookcase full, found new homes with my fellow quilt guild members. The decluttering went deep and beyond my studio and extended to divesting myself of family items I thought I’d carry around forever.  Now, a photo, a sketch and the memories of good times are enough.

So 2014 arrived and my word came to me immediately!


This blog is a stretch.  Yes, I’ll upload my artwork but writing about it and sharing a bit of myself?  Oh yeah, it’s a stretch alright.  Baby steps.


This is a year of possibilities for all of us. If having a word intrigues you but you need ideas then please take a look at the words Jane LaFazio accumulated.  Maybe one of those words will speak to you.

What’s your word for 2014?