Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The South of France....

....where the poppies bloom,

....where the lavender's sweet scent fills the air,

....where thousands of sunflower sway in the breeze,
 ....where visiting Domaine du Haut Baran makes the living easy by taking care of the daily details so you can enjoy each day to the fullest!
This lovely country inn is located in southwestern France, about 20 minutes from a small village called Le Boulvé. The area is known as the Quercy, and is located about an an hour and a half north of Toulouse. The inn has been restored by William and Rosalie Haas. had the good fortune of being next to their booth at the tradeshow.
Gabby, Robin and John were at the tradeshow representing Domaine du Haut Baran, and we had a delightful time working together. William is Robin and John's brother, so you can see it's definitely a family adventure!

The chateau offers bicycling tours (as the Tour de France passes through their region),, cooking classes, horseback riding, walking tours, and (my personal fav) artist retreats! Anyone want to join me for a week or two in the South of France?

For more information about visiting the chateau, please contact William or Rosalie at or visit their web site at

Not able to get away right now for a quick trip to France? Then why not take an "Imaginary Trip to Paris?!" with me to prepare for a visit? The Imaginary Trip leaves this Friday, October 1st! Please click here for class information!

Please Note: all photos are from the Domaine du Haut Baran website with the exception of the poppies and the Haas family photo.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

More Tradeshow Pics!

All of these photos were taken late in day on the second day as we didn't think to take them during the show when the traffic was heavy—we were too busy talking to folks about Imaginary Trips! These are just a few of the vendors that were there:

This top shot is of Cheap Joe's set up with an area for demos. Joe Miller did not attend but his son, Joseph and Caroline, Joe's right hand, both did. They had wonderful giveaways and demos going on the entire show.
This is from the opposite side of Cheap Joe's booth and shows Keeton's Office and Art Supplies from Bradenton and Art Center Manatee. They also had artists doing demos all day, both days. Frank and Natasha were there helping customers all day long and their smiles never wavered. If you're in the Bradenton area and ever in need of art supplies, these guys and gals come highly recommended. They know their stuff!
For those who do not recognize him, this is Tom Jones. He had his own setup across the side aisle from us and demoed several times a day. He was there in conjunction with Arches paper and Talens Paint Company.
Last shot is of Art and Frame of Sarasota's booth which actually took up both sides of the aisle (we just forgot to take a photo of the other side!). The gentleman behind the table is Jerome Chesley, who teaches at Keeton's, Art Center Manatee and Art and Frame of Sarasota. 

As I said, there were many more vendors at the show. We either didn't get photos or the photos we took were too blurry to post.

Next, we're going to talk about taking an artist holiday to………France!!!

Monday, September 27, 2010

And We're Back from the Tradeshow!

Was that a weekend?! Dang! It flew by! I guess that's what happens when you're doing a tradeshow! As promised, here is a quick photo journey of our set up and the first day:
This is the booth as it appeared when we walked in with our stuff piled everywhere. 
First order of business was to get the sign up! (Love that sign!)
More signage going up! And a big, big thank you to my wonderful hubby for sticking in there with me and for helping to make this dream of Imaginary Trips come true! A second big, big thank you goes out to Kathy from Catching Happiness for being there with me on Friday and for doing such a terrific job of talking with folks about the classes! (Somehow, I totally missed getting a photo of her!)
This was the "suitcase surprise," and probably the funniest moment of the whole weekend....I had used this suitcase in a photo shoot a while back and when I was done, I threw the props into the suitcase. They included two pair of flashy evening shoes and a red lace bra—you can imagine the surprise when we opened that on the tradeshow floor! Luckily, no one else seemed to notice. 
And this is the final setup! The monitor in the middle played a presentation explaining what Imaginary Trips is all about as well as some clips for the class videos. My painting, No Place Like Home, is over on the left and we did a give away of a sketching kit over on the right. 
This was taken at the end of the day on Saturday. I'm really surprised we didn't look more tired than we we do—we were exhausted! 

More to come tomorrow!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Road Show!!!!

Detail of Signage
The 39th Annual Florida Watercolor Society Exhibition and Tradeshow are going on this weekend and will be there!!! Woohoo!! Lots of excitement, work, and craziness, but mostly excitement! Oh, man, I gotta tell you when I saw that sign hanging up I was suddenly 10 foot tall and bullet proof! Imaginary Trips seemed more real in that moment than it ever has. Did I mention excitement?!!

The tradeshow will be held at the Innisbrook Resort in Tarpon Springs/Palm Harbor area. There will be demos, slide critiques, and goodies for sale all day Friday and Saturday. The juried show opens Friday night at 5:30 at the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art in Tarpon Springs.

Stop by and visit if you come to the show—we'll be in booth #27!!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Autumnal Equinox!

Yes! Finally! It is here. Officially. Autumn!!!
Autumn's Glorious Colors
Captured in a Watercolor Leaf
I think someone might have forgotten to tell Mother Nature as our temps are still hitting the 90's everyday. However, there is slightly less humidity and every once in a while one of those sweet, caressing breezes that just makes you slow down and breathe a little deeper!

The solstice has always been a great time to check in with my muse and goals to see how I'm doing. I know I've been all over the board this year with my goals and as you all know, my muse has been keeping me quite busy. (Love that girl!) I see some really "interesting" stuff in the works. I'm not sure which way it might to turn out yet. I just know with all the energy building, something exciting is bound to come out of all of it! (I'll share more when I know more. Right now, the Universe is being rather cryptic.)

Tonight will also be a Harvest Moon—a full moon on the Solstice! So with that in mind, I'm wishing you a beautiful, moonlight-dancing, soul-inspiring solstice!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

FREE Shipping at Daniel Smith - Any Size Purchase!

Good through 11:59 p.m on Monday, September 27th! Enter code WINDFALL. To enter the web site, please click the Daniel Smith  logo in the right side bar! Thanks you!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Last Call for the Explorations Class!

Journal Calendar Page from Artful Journaling: Explorations Class

The Artful Journaling: Explorations class starts tomorrow, Tuesday, September 20th and there are still a few spots if you'd like to join the expedition! We learn about integrating our journal into our lives as a companion, various techniques including salt and sand, using tissue paper, gesso and a host of other fun things!

You can find more information here. Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A Tale of Caution

The paper testing goes on.... (more here and here)

I am still working in the Pineapple Journal with the Canson Edition watercolor paper and I must say I am enjoying it quite a bit. The colors are bright and lively, the paper does NOT buckle under repeated washes and it dries fairly flat as well.

Detail of corrected area
This is a partial slice of the page and it's partial for two, it's not finished nor is it likely to be and two, it based very loosely on an image I've seen out on someone's blog and until I have it in writing that they will allow me to use their image I will not post it in its entirety. It's about copyright law and respecting other artists' rights. That's the first tale of caution. It's way easy to get caught up in an image and forget to ask!

The second tale of caution is if you look closely at the brown area you may be able to discern two areas that were "corrected." If not, take a look at the next image.

Detail of attempted correction
See the two dark "lines" of pigment? One curves to the left and one to the right? I wanted to add yellow petals in this area so I lifted the color as lightly as I could with a scrubbie. Once dry, I attempted to add color back over the area. Yuck! The surface was very fuzzy with no sizing left and no amount of burnishing would repair the damage. The only thing I could do was to put the heavy brown pigment back. It is far more noticeable on the actual page than in the scan.

It would seem that the Achilles heel for this paper is that you do not make significant course changes or correct large mistakes. Once the pigment is down, it doesn't come up easily nor does the paper accept pigment back over the corrected area very well. I also tried using a correction using clear tape. No good there either as it lifted the paper fibers when I lifted the tape.

In short, this paper is not Arches and does not take a repeated beating. However, as a watercolor sketching paper to be used in bound/stitched books, it's has Arches beat hands down for the lack of cracking of the paper, warpage and ease of use!

Monday, September 13, 2010

What is It About Rust and Decay?

Rusty, old(?) metal birdbath
Watercolor and Ink
There is something about rust and decay and dilapidation that gets to me. This birdbath, along with its sister bird feeder were no exceptions. It has to do with the patina of time, the wear and tear, the use of an object that was loved and appreciated for what it was or did. Whatever it is, it speaks to me on a level that shiny and new seldom do. 

I brought this birdbath home from an outdoor antique market Chris and I went to on Labor Day. Other treasures found and brought home included an old copper bucket with a beautiful blue/green patina, old suitcase, a "vintage" Coach handbag and other odds and ends. The day was HOT! The only thing that saved us from turning into crispy critters was the clouds and threat of rain. The humidity was high, but at least it was overcast. 

This was painted in the Pineapple Journal with the Canson Edition Paper. It did not buckle in the least and again the color is very vibrant. This is more the "style" or expression that I was seeking on the first page. Now I need to get the birdfeeder painted so they can go live in the weed patch……garden on the south side of the house.  

What are YOU doing to KICK fear to the curb today?????

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Pristine, Paralyzing "Perfectness" **UPDATED**

UPDATED: Last night I was debating on whether to post about this topic. This morning, I was still undecided until I checked my emails and found a comment on yesterday's post from Tyanne of Ty's Quilts about her fears of messing up a new, pristine white journal. 

As soon as I read her comment, I knew I was suppose to post this today. Now Tyanne has posted about how she's kicking fear to the curb and how she's going to use her new journal! You can read about it here.

Do you have a fear to be kicking to the curb?! Please share in the comments!

Oh my.

The white cover waiting for just the right touch.

The first page with nary a mark on it.

The possibilities are endless. The decisions daunting.

Why? Why all the pressure?

Because all of the possibilities—in my mind—are perfect.

IF I dare to put a mark on the page it might not be perfect. Or what I want. Or (gasp!) I might make a mistake! Oh, the horror! The........fear......of ruining a perfectly good journal on the first page or the cover! Of being recognized for the fraud that I know I am deep down inside. I'm NO artist and I won't be fooling anyone if I mess up this cover or the first page!

Do you ever go through anything like this when you're starting a new journal?

I have to say that I was paralyzed for years by white page fear. My excuse was that I just couldn't make up my mind as to what I wanted to put on the cover of that new journal or the first page, but in truth, I was afraid of messing up. Big time. And then everyone would know that I wasn't really an artist but a wannabe.

I will also concede that the fear still grips me from time to time and I have to make a concerted effort to kick it to the curb. I put on my kevlar tutu, fire up my turbo-charged magic wand and POWER THROUGH THE FEAR. Because, really, does everyone really care what the journal cover looks like or the first page?!

In a word, "No."

Below is the first page of the Pineapple Journal, which I showed in this post. I've decided to dedicate this journal to a looser type of sketching.

I've really loosened up on this first page, don'tcha think??


Watercolor on Canson Edition paper
I had just painted the large purple flower when my hubby came into the studio and we began a rather serious discussion. The purple flower was loose and the only thing on the page at that time. When I started paying attention to what I was painting once more, I realized that my usual, tighter style had reasserted itself when my focus turned to the discussion. Oops. Loose? No. Not even close. It's not even a good page design.

As I wondered what to do about this less than auspicious start, it dawned on me (a little late, I know) that in a journal where the pages are SEWN in, they would not/could not be easily removed. Like in a spiral bound journal. Now, I've seldom removed pages from any of my journals, but it was always nice to know that the option was there if I really mucked up a page!  Kinda like an escape hatch.

Reviewing my options, I realized I could a) get out my gesso and paint over the page or parts of it; b) add a few papers for collage and disguise the failed attempt; or c) I could just say "Next!" and turn the page and get on with. After all, a valuable lesson was learned....I really need to focus when I'm attempting to learn a new style of painting. So, while I still have my tutu on....


Thursday, September 9, 2010

A New Passion!!!

Sometimes, you just know! And I just knew it would be this way.....
.....I LOVE making my own journals using a coptic stitch!! This was so fun to make! This was built using the Stonehenge papers that I talked about in this post. I used elastic cording for a closure and the button was just a very lucky find! You can see that I alternated the gray (putty) and white papers for interest. The overall size is about 6 x 6 inches (15.24 x 15.24 cm).

This journal has a dedicated purpose (hopefully) that will be revealed later. I want to test painting on the paper before I commit to its possible purpose so I'm sure you'll be hearing more about the paper in the future.

Now, for a trip in a totally different direction, I used Canson Edition watercolor paper (more here).....

....and the brightest material I had in my supply cabinet! (Not really. I have others that are as bright or brigher.) The pineapple art is a postage stamp that has been given a wax seal. The paper under the stamp is the same as the interior cover. Again, the size is about 6 x 6 inches (15.24 x 15.24 cm).

And I gotta tell you, Sam and I are hooked! Loved making these and can't wait to make more! For now though, we need to get busy filling them!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Another Paper Test!

Accordion Fold Journal -
Canson Edition Watercolor Paper
Thanks to Ann at BlueBird Hill and Pam at South Carolina Low Country blogs, I have a new paper to play with and the first results are posted above! Ann and Pam both highly endorsed Canson Edition Watercolor paper and as luck would have it, the art store had two pieces in the 140 lb. weight left. I told them to stick my name on them, I was on my way!
First four panels with the "cover" still blank
I picked up the paper late on Saturday and torn it down for a journal that evening. I had a scrap that was a little over 2 inches (5.08 cm) wide and 22 inches (55.88 cm) long. I created an accordion fold with 8 panels. The images I painted are random things that cropped up over the weekend. Wildflowers, a new mug (which you saw yesterday), more flowers, a slice of cake (which you saw yesterday) and some tomatoes from an outdoor market we went to on Monday.
Close up of middle panels
Results: the paper folds well with no cracking. Again, it seems the pigment sits up on the surface of the paper with little seeping into the fibers as I was able to remove color with little trouble. The colors are very vibrant on the paper and this may be part of the reason! Corrections were easy as it allowed me to erase with little or no trouble. I still want to test it a little further though.
End of the journal with final panel blank
If you purchase this paper, you will notice a definite, marked difference in the textures between the front and back of the sheet. It isn't something that will bother me as I don't paint across the page that often, and I like the idea of having a rougher texture for some subjects. The decision will have to be made to either work in page/date order or to skip around if you want to choose the best paper surface for the current subject matter. Since my journals always tend to be a little erratic anyway, this hasn't proven to be an issue yet!

I have thoroughly enjoyed playing with this "scrap" journal and I highly recommend this type of "play" if you are testing out a new paper—it provides spontaneity without the usual threat of a brand new journal to "break in." I hope to have the sketchbook/journal put together later today and I'll post it tomorrow if it is done in time! As I continue to test out the papers (Stonehenge and Canson), I'll post the info here.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Do You Have A Moment?

Would you care to join me for a piece of "imaginary" cake? I think I'm going to have a slice of Red Velvet (or as my mother calls, Red Devil)! Please, have any flavor you'd like and there are no calories! Can't beat that...
Red Velvet Cake Slice
You know, I used to....ignore birthdays. As much as you can ignore that sort of thing. Especially when you have folks around that want to share good wishes, happiness and laughter with you. In the last few years I've changed my attitude and started to embrace this day. I guess I look at it more as "I made it another year!' or "Wow, look at all that I've accomplished, not to mention the fun I've had, in the last year!" rather than "Oh, no! That number just went up. Again!"

When my thoughts do wander towards worrying about numbers, I've started saying, "Yes.....and?"

I remember my grandmother (who lived to be in her late 90's) said she was still 14—in her mind. She said she never "thought like she was old." She shared that with me when she was well in her 70's. At the time, I found it odd, but I wasn't really old enough to understand. Now, I know what she meant. I'm still in my twenties in my mind. It seems to be just the "packaging" that shows (and feels) its age.

'Tis a day of celebration in that I've made it another year and along the way I've marked off a few things from my "To Accomplish in this Lifetime" list. I've been happier in the last two years than I have been in a long, long time as well! That's not to say I'm not still striving to improve myself or my life; however, today is a day to reflect (with gratitude) on my life, so very full of blessings, friendship and happiness.

I also want to say thanks to each of you for helping to make my life far richer and filling it with happiness and laughter, for giving me the opportunity to  "know" a bit about you and for the sharing and caring I've received and witnessed in the blogosphere!

Now, can I get you a cup of coffee or tea to go with that cake......
New Mug

Saturday, September 4, 2010

She Did It!

She is victorious!

She is joyous!

She is proud!

She is loud!

Front of bag with pocket
Sam has a new bag with all of the desired features!!

After several skirmishes, Sam decided it would be acceptable to make the bag out of scraps—from the curtain panels in the studio.....IF she could add a touch of "glam." Hence the beads across the top of the pocket where I stash keys and lipstick.

Back of bag

The back panel is Sam's favorite as she really likes this material best. We didn't have enough left over to make the whole bag out it, so we created the side panels out of the striped material:
Side and Back
And below, is the interior with all the appropriate compartments for sketchbooks, watercolor kits, camera, cellphone, camera, wallet and other necessities with (plenty of) room to spare.
Inside compartments (click to enlarge)
In case you're wondering why she's loud, it's because she dislikes the handles. They're a bit too girlie for her. She's loudly insisting we go find some other handles.

She's....I'm just glad to having something marked off the to-do list!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Playing with Paper

I recently paid a visit to one of our art supply stores in the area to pick up some open-stock Stonehenge paper. I've read on several blogs and on the Stonehenge web site as well that the paper is good for watercolors so I've been very curious to "see" and touch it for myself.

To say I was skeptical when I first handled the paper is an understatement!

Still, being a glutton for punishment (not really...I just didn't see how that many people could be wrong), I purchased a sheet of white and a sheet of gray that should be called putty as it is not gray. Not by a long shot. I purchased it with the intention of building a sketchbook. However, before I put in all the work of putting together a sketchbook I wanted to find out what the paper could or would do with regard to watercolors.

I tore down both sheets and with the scraps left over, started to play.......

Watercolor Samples on 90 lb. Stonehenge Paper
The very top sample is about .75 inches (1.905 cm) wide and is the white Stonehenge and surprise, surprise! Not only did it NOT turn to mush in my hands when I added water and pigment, it didn't bleed through nor did it warp. Yay!

Onto the gray.....these scraps were slightly wider, a little less than 2 inches (5 cm) wide. Starting on the bottom, I painted a quick pumpkin and then the tree. Again, so far, so good. Moving up to the middle strip, I painted the tree with the meadow and sky washes. Again, no warpage, no bleed, no mess. Then I moved on to pen and ink, both permanent and non-permanent. Success!

Now, the downside. This paper is very soft and the pigment seems to sit on the surface without sinking down into the fibers. Easy lifting, even of staining colors but will this be a problem with pages rubbing against each other when the book is closed? Also, this paper is not going to allow for too much correction work without getting bruised or damaged. My last concern is that I'm not sure how well it will accept erasing as I didn't use pencil on any of these samples. Sometimes (most of the time) erasing will change the surface of a paper and I don't this one will be an exception. 

I do believe this paper will be great for just about any dry media as it did great with both pens.  More testing to come. If I find any further info worth sharing, I'll post it. The main reason I decided to play with this paper is that it was recommended for making sketchbooks. The paper does not crack like some of the watercolor papers with heavy sizing on them.

Hope you a fabulous, long weekend with lots of art time and play time and rest time!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

I've Been Bad....

....and it felt so good!! For the last month, I've been getting up a little past six, stumbling over to the Beast (also known as an exercise machine) and exercising the very first thing most every morning for 20-30 minutes. No coffee, no breakfast, just water. This morning, I decided to forgo the Beast and went to the studio instead.

Oh, my, how I've missed this! I worked on a journal I'm building and then I switched to the Snowman...

Mr. Vert Snowman
Here he is in his FUZZY red jacket! And here's his brother....

Mr. Hort Snowman
They're identical twins in case you were wondering! And even at their age, they still like to dress the same. 

Below is the complete image...

I intend to add cards to the Etsy shop when I get them made. Anyone have any ideas for fun (funny) captions for this guy?! If I choose your caption, you'll get a FREE box of 8 cards! Give me your funniest ideas!!