Come Over to the Dark Side

Well, I had to stop in to see what Michelle Ward was up to and the Street Team challenge was something I’ve been playing with already so I’m in!

Working on a black background is such a great way to think a bit outside the ordinary. Colors play differently and the dark under layer adds an air of mystery.
Love stretching that artistic muscle in new ways. If you have time to play come join in the fun!

Make It Your Own

While drinking my first cup of coffee this morning, my blog browsing took me to Michelle Wards Green Pepper Press Street Team Challenge.

This is one of my favorite challenges because Michelle is so inspiring and pushes the envelope encouraging others to do the same. I have been too busy to do much participating lately, but when I saw this challenge it so hit home with me that I had to take some time to answer it today.

Make it your own. I think that all artists truly long to do this. It is a process though. We see someones work and think ‘Oh, I love that, I want to know how they did it’! Sometimes through workshops or classes we are afforded a glimpse of the ‘how’ part. We then take that new found knowledge and add it to what we already know and slowly but surely our own ‘style’ evolves. This is the process. Michelle said the difference between art and crafts is the ability to ‘make it your own’. Are you wanting to make the product or learn the process?

This is what I so struggled with when I kept getting asked to do a ‘face’ class. I truly love teaching and sharing techniques and encouraging people along their art journey, but I really don’t enjoy teaching a ‘product‘ nearly as much. That is not to say that there aren’t times when that is the only way to do something. Short, live workshops lend themselves to that type of teaching. So while I am completely open to teaching my techniques, giving tips, guidance and encouraging the creative process, I didn’t necessarily want to see lots of little ‘Pam’ faces all over. They may tend to look like that at first, but through this process they will become more and more your own.
My answer to this is Pursuing Portraits. I want to share the joy of discovering your own face with you! I share all of my techniques and guide you on the process of finding your own face! It is a continuing process as our art is always evolving. The class is open ended so you will have unlimited access to the materials and can revisit the videos again and again, working at your own pace and discovering the joy of Making it your own!
P.S. all of the journal pages here have been either inspired by one of Michelle’s challenges or made using some of her wonderful stamps. Thank you for the inspiration Michelle!

Green Pepper Press Street Team Challenge

I am trying to squeeze in all of the fun art challenges that I love to take part in, during this slightly hectic time of year. This months GPP STREET TEAM challenge is to add the sense of ‘smell’ to your journal pages. How yummy is that? While pondering this challenge in the back of my mind, in the midst of baking cookies like a mad woman, and wishing I could capture the smell of the roasting, candied pecans, I opened my personal journal and realized that I had already added a scent to the pages that marks some exciting happenings in this holiday season. These pages were done while on the way to visit my son during his Basic Training. Only having limited supplies on hand, and being stuck in the airport, waiting for a flight, forced me to get creative. Isn’t that a GREAT thing?! I decided I would only use things found in the airport. As you can see, there are ticket stubs, some old Jeps (pilot talk for maps, as DH was doing revisions to his charts while we waited)I sketched DH’s aviator glasses, ripped off old tags on our luggage, and wondered how to add some background color to the page. I took a sip of my Starbucks and the light bulb went off! So much to my families dismay (they never know what I might use in my journal and always ask before throwing anything out-lol) I started dripping my coffee right onto the page and smooshing it around with my fingers.

Now when I open my journal, the scent of coffee wafts out and reminds me of early mornings, travel, and warmth. This Christmas, said son is coming home on leave and getting married to his sweetheart. We will again be traveling, this time to Washington, to take part in the wedding and welcoming a daughter to our family. She called me the other day and asked if I wanted to go and get my hair done with her for the wedding, now that is something I have waited for my whole life, Mother-daughter time! I love my boys dearly, but it will be so wonderful to have a daughter in our family.
A little Shout Out to Michelle, ‘Somerset Art Journals’ is featuring an article of mine and some journal pages, due out January 1. 2009, and one of the pages uses some stamps from Michelle Ward, and another page was done using handcarved stamps from one of her earlier challenges. This page talks about GPP Street team and Michelle! So very cool that these are some of the pages that they chose to use!

GPP Steet Team Monthly Challenge

This months GPP Street Team Challenge (Green Pepper Press, Michelle Ward) is to experiment with GESSO. This is one of the pieces that I played around with. I use gesso all the time for surface preparation, but it was fun to use it for a bit more. I started with a bit of leftover blue paint on the background of a watercolor journal page. I didn’t have enough to cover the whole page, but that didn’t matter. I then dry brushed some black gesso in both directions, here and there. For the next step, I took a palette knife and applied gesso to a foam stamp and stamped this on the page, giving it a nice texture. When this was thoroughly dried I painted a wash of Golden’s Titan Buff over the whole page and ragged it off. The gesso acted as a resist and let the stamped elements show through nicely. To this background I added collage elements, stamped images, stenciling, and text. The end result is a Pamified Steampunkish look. Yes, I am making up words as I go-lol!

Clean Your Plate~ GPPS Street Team Challenge

Time for another challenge from Michelle Ward! As soon as I read this challenge, I knew that I was on the same page as Michelle, and then when I signed on and saw all of the other comments, I realized we have a whole Street Team Army, already cleaning our plates! I know people feel the need to purge and clean in the spring, but I also feel it in the fall. And now I know I am not alone!

Over the summer I get little bits of time to dash into the studio and work a bit on my art, never staying long enough to clean up after myself. As summer progresses, I keep the door closed, my little secret-lol! Then the kids go back to school and I have a few glorious hours each day to work on my art, oh, and clean the house:-) Then begins the purge. I feel this need to clean everything out before winter keeps me inside, warming my toes by the fire. This year, I did a ‘Clean Sweep’ and took everything out of my studio and put back what I wanted. It took me several days, and I had to pry some things out of my hands and say goodbye-sniff. It is necessary though, if you want a clear focus and direction. I used to be so scattered, doing this project and that project, and I feel like I am finally doing art that I love, and paring down all of the other areas is OK. I don’t need to do twenty different kinds of arts and crafts. I can focus on mixed media painting as that is what I truly love to do.

One BIG thing I am letting go of is scrap booking. When I look at the piles of pictures waiting to be cropped and arranged on decorated pages, it exhausts me. I have given myself permission to put the bulk of my pictures into pocket sleeves and do an occasional scrapbook page here and there. What a weight off my back!

Why is it that we cling to these ideals of what we ‘have’ to do? Overcommitment seems to be the standard anymore. I am going to try to give myself permission to let some things go this year. I have several exciting projects in the works this year, and I want to be able to focus on them and be able to enjoy the process, not just the end results!


I have long been an admirer from afar of Michelle Wards Green Pepper Press Street Team. I don’t always get over to her blog to check out the challenges, but when I do I end up staying half of forever reading back posts. She has so many creative ways to stretch your artistic muscles that I always leave feeling renewed and wanting to try something new. But, until now, I have not ever ‘officially’ joined in a monthly challenge. While drinking my coffee this morning, I visited her blog to learn of her sisters passing. My heart goes out to Michelle and her family for their considerable loss. Michelle’s response to her grief is this Pay It Forward challenge. She is one amazing gal! Now I have done several PIF’s and RAK’s this past year, on a small scale. It feels so good to see a package go off, knowing it will make someone smile, and hearing back that it made a difference to that person is the best possible feeling! Today though, I would like to share a few RAK’s I have received from none other than my best friend, whom I happen to be married to. This is not to be all sappy and sweet. It is to share how the smallest of things can turn someones day around. We often overlook the people that are closest to us, taking them for granted, and if we just took that extra minute to do something unexpected for them, how much it would uplift them.

Long ago we adopted a little word, ‘shmily’. I don’t even remember where we got it from, it means ‘see how much I love you?’ This little word shows up unexpectedly, and is an instant lift to the spirit! It is a little RAL (random act of love) that will brighten the worst of days. How could you not smile, if you found this written into the dirty window of your car, or written on the shower wall after DH has left for an early morning flight? Now, I’m not going to say that my DH is perfect, or that we don’t have our ‘moments’, we are human, but the things that stand out in my mind are the little things that show me how much he loves me. When I accidentally pulled the bumper off our brand new GTO, and had to call him while he was on a trip to tell him, he knew how upset I was and sent me flowers with a note saying “That’s alright, I’m ok, it ain’t nothin’ but another day. Only God knows where I’d be, if you ever stopped loving me.” These are words from a song by Montgomery Gentry. I’d rather have flowers on a day like that than an anniversary any day!

So I guess the thought I would like to leave with you is, do something nice for the person closest to you. It doesn’t have to be big, just a RAL that will make his heart smile:-)

Hand Carved Stamps

After visiting both Michelle Ward’s Green Pepper Press, (to order some fabulous new stamps) and Laurie Blau-Marshall’s blogs, and seeing all of the lovely hand carved stamps, I thought I would share a few also. Carving you own stamps is soooo much fun! I made my first attempts last year, when I taught a unit on it to my 5th graders. They had so much fun we even extended the lesson a couple of weeks! Their work was auctioned off at a fundraiser for the school and now hangs in a doctors office. This is the background I did using the Fleur d’le (sp?) stamp on the right. The diamond background was made to use in a ZNE design team challenge. It is an ATC background. Carving your own stamps is not hard, inexpensive, and lots of fun. You can draw your own image, or use an image transfer. Laurie had a great idea of outlining your design in charcoal and then burnishing it onto the rubber with a bone folder. I usually just draw right on the rubber and I like to take a small gouging tip of the Speedball carving tool, and make little gouges in the finished design for a distressed look. Have fun and let me know if you try it out so I can come have a looksee!