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This Virtual Blog Tour was inspired by Sue Jones at It Goes On. I’m a little nervous and excited by this opportunity to share my creative process.

What am I working on?

My two big intentions for 2014 are contentment and to make good art. I’m really trying to have everything I am working on have those goals in mind.

My gratitude art journals are always a work in progress and usually don’t feel like work as much as they are part of how I move through my days. I enjoy focusing on specific artistic skills and techniques and stretching my limits in my journals. Now I am also working on larger collages that have grown out of my art journals. I have done a few drafts of an abstract garden color meditation collage that is coming along nicely. The sketches were in watercolor and acrylics with different cut paper flowers. For the final collage I am making individual flowers in different media and attaching them to a painted canvas. I posted part of the work in progress, some blue Zentangle on paper flowers.

I am also playing around with different ideas of art to abandon and considering different challenges for Cloth, Paper, Scissors magazine. However, I have decided that these are not my highest priority right now. I get easily sidetracked from completing big projects so I’m going to use these as incentives as I finish bigger projects.

Speaking of big projects, I have been working on transforming an extra bedroom that we have been using as a storage room into a studio. This is a really big project. I want to get my dining room back and I think that having a dedicated studio space will really help me see and finish my big projects. However, I have to pace myself and many days it is a choice between making art and working on the studio. I guess I’m waiting to have a creative block to get going on the studio. No, actually, I have days when I feel energetic and I can make some progress in there.

Cereal box installation. What, you may be asking yourself, is a cereal box installation? Well, you will have to wait and see, but I’m really excited. Environmentalism and contentment are part of the driving forces behind the idea for this. At this point I will tell you that, for now, I’m mostly collecting cereal boxes in my “studio” and that is not helping with the cleaning/organizing in there.

How does my work differ from others of my genre?

I guess my genre is art journals and that covers a lot of territory. I am inspired by many of the art journal artists out there. I most certainly am not the only altered book art journal artist, but I do seem to be the only one with the focus on gratitude that I have. I think the story behind how I came back into doing art full time may be what sets my work apart.

Some of you know that I have had really chronic migraines for the last 3-4 years. By really chronic, I mean that I cannot remember the last time I did not have a migraine. I have been keeping a pain record journal for the last 3 years or so and it was when I started that journal that I realized that my migraine never really went away. I have other pain problems, too so it has been a little complicated. What this level of migraine means is that I spend a lot of time laying quietly in a dark room doing (almost) nothing seemingly for days and weeks on end. I practiced gratitude daily long before the migraines and it has helped me through more than one of these long quiet days. Do you know what happens when you give your mind that kind of space? You notice things. Some days I’m grateful for the lyrics to a song and the cat lying on my pillow. Some days I spend an hour or more doing loving kindness meditation to pray for freedom from pain for my future self and every being on Earth. Sometimes I lay there and think about the fact that people are doing metta (loving-kindness) meditation for me and praying for me. Do you want to know the really wild part of this? I actually worked as a school psychologist part time until last October with the full time migraine. I’m not sure how I did that. I know it didn’t leave much left over to be a mother or wife and it led me to a life with pain levels of 6 and higher almost all the time. By that point I was working maybe one or two days a week and spending most of the rest of the week in bed. I had started my blog and gratitude art journal by then. I am happy with the work I did, but it was generally much simpler than what I do now and I didn’t post as often to my blog either.

The migraine has had vision implications at times and always has stamina limitations. These have had an impact on the ways I can express myself with art. Art journaling is the perfect venue for expressing art within varying constraints! It is really difficult to paint with watercolors or acrylics in 10-15 minute increments. However, Zentangles are perfect for short periods of work. I am getting to the point where I can work on multiples of something, such as prepping canvases and journal pages and getting into more watercolor and acrylic painting. A lot of the time now I will start something with paint and then embellish it with Zentangles. A photograph is something I can manage on even my worst days, or gluing some text from a magazine, or writing out a word or two.

Why do I write/create what I do?

I started to really enjoy exploring new avenues of creativity while I spent hours being quiet and trying to think of something other than pain. Like I said, I have been practicing gratitude in one way or another for many years and I am so grateful for the joy and satisfaction that working in my journals has brought to me. The fact that anyone else is interested has been such a wonderful bonus.

How does your writing/creating process work?

As I go through the day I notice things that I am grateful for. I have developed metaphors for many people and activities in my life that are frequently included in my journals. Some examples from this week’s post include the use of pages from my father’s hymnal and old magazine clippings that my great aunt collected as a metaphor for my mother.

wisdom teeth removed safely


salsa and community

Usually when images are cut up, as in Saturday’s entry, it represents some kind of related work I was able to do. I like to use images of cut up food for time spent happily cooking. I like to represent organizing stuff with orderly rows of circles or squares with different design elements in them. I have to say that I was so happy with the way the photos of our latest CSA bounty turned out. It was fun to cut up the ingredients to make the salsa with the food processor and then with the scissors. Some days I also want to use specific art supplies to prepare for a workshop. Tonight I’m teaching a back-to-school gratitude/art journal workshop with mostly Crayola supplies. This watercolor was done with crayons and pan watercolors available for less than $5.

So some days the things I’m grateful for determine the media and the process and sometimes it is the other way around. I have to admit that I am also addicted to books and videos about how to do different things. At any given time I have 20-30 things checked out from the library and that may determine how I express my gratitude on a given day. If a book is due that day I may add it to my reference page to use a technique I don’t yet have the materials and/or stamina for yet or I may jump right in and try something from the book and mention it in my blog.

And some days I’m not up to much of anything so I lay in bed and make a few notes in my pain journal to use as reference. Those days usually end up being pretty simple pages. I may focus on a word or person or my cats or all of the above. There are so many things that I am grateful for everyday, even my really bad days. I have made stencils to represent my husband, son, and cats. I have a stash of photos that represent different friends. I have started to collect washi tape and special papers that reminds me of individuals.

My photography has generally been used to support my children’s scrapbooks, my journals, cards, and as reference for my artwork. However, I bought a really nice camera a few years ago for a vacation to Italy and I have been getting into photography more and more as an end in itself. As I mentioned before, I have also developed a stash of photos that act as metaphors for different people and activities. My friend Dawn is such a morning person and I have a photo of the sunrise over Lake Michigan that is so her.

As I have been blogging longer and reading other people’s blogs more, I have been writing more and sharing more of who I am. This post has been the biggest share of all time for me and I hope you have enjoyed it. I am looking forward to learning more about the creative process of 2 fabulous writers I follow Lora and Ellisnelson.