UPDATE! Life Book Lesson Week 12

I wasn’t happy with the lack of depth and drama in my piece. I posted it online to our Facebook group and got some great suggestions for adding more depth. The 2 suggestions I tried were graphite pencil and silks acrylic glaze (sunflower). Graphite pencil in the nooks and crannies and the glaze on the high points over the entire piece. It really brightens it up and gives it more drama. You can always use more drama!



Til next time…



Life Book 2014 – Week 12

This post is coming a little late. Okay… a lot late. It was a bit more challenging than I anticipated and I had to gather up more supplies than normal to complete this piece.

This lesson was taught by the very talented Anna Dabrowska – aka Finnabair. I came across her work several months ago and I immediately connected with it. So I was thrilled to learn that she was one of the Life Book teachers. Her work has such an amazing texture! And to be able to transform every day objects into something so beautiful is truly a gift!

Here is Finnabair’s example for her class.


I was going to use the same layout, but opted instead for an off center one. I didn’t really have a picture of my face straight on like hers. Oh! And I decided to do the lesson on a canvas. That much texture can’t be contained in a book!



As I was going through my photo album this picture just jumped out at me. It’s me at age 5 holding my “baby ellie” and feeding it a bottle. I loved that elephant! I drug it everywhere. In fact, I had a whole collection of stuffed animal elephants. But “baby ellie” was my favorite.

One year for Christmas I asked my Annie Ann (my aunt) to buy me a “papa ellie”. I needed a dad elephant for my collection. I already had a baby and mama. So my aunt went to the store and asked the clerk for a “papa ellie”, the guy had no idea what she was talking about of course. LOL! I’m not exactly sure how she figured it out, but eventually she realized that all I wanted was an elephant stuffed animal. Oops! Sorry about that Annie Ann!


Okay… back to the lesson.
I started with background texture. Texture that was flat in nature that could be built upon. Then I went crazy adding everything short of the kitchen sink. I hope my husband won’t be too mad that I raided his toolbox. Shhh… don’t tell him.




It was a little crazy looking at this point. I’ll admit I was a bit worried. But the next step was to gesso everything. Wow! What a difference that makes.


I truly just wanted to stop at this point. I didn’t want to screw it up with the sprays, but I went ahead with the lesson anyway. I have to at least try. Do something new. If I don’t… then why did I pay to take the course? What am I learning?

YIKES! That is awful! I immediately regretted my decision. I had limited colors of the sprays the teacher recommended. Hobby Lobby just had a few and I bought them all. But it just wasn’t the color combination I liked. So I gesso’d over the black and tried again with the gold and green sprays I bought and then I added some blue dylusions ink spray around the outside. A much better look. I used a bit of gesso on the top to highlight the high points and give it more dimension.




It’s not exactly what I had envisioned, but I think it’s pretty good for my first try. I have to remind myself that my first try at something doesn’t need to be as good as someone who has been doing it for years. I remember Tamara saying (she might have been quoting someone) that we shouldn’t compare our beginning to someone else’s middle. That is so true!

Til next time…


Life Book 2014 – Week 11

This week was a bonus lesson week. The original teacher couldn’t do it so thankfully Tamara stepped in and offered a lesson of her own and even a second one by Gracie. These were just fast forwarded video lessons, but they still had a great deal of info. Tamara never disappoints. Her lessons are always fun for me.

The theme was The Tree of Life. I created very closely to what the example was. I really responded to the piece she created and I wanted to push myself with drawing legs and hands. The cartoon style of the girl made it easier to try them out for the first time.


I never realized that you should sketch your subject first. I always thought that real artists just painted off the cuff. Like Bob Ross. I remember watching him paint as a girl. He would just slap paint down on the canvas and I would think, “What are you doing? That doesn’t look like a tree.” And then somehow as he kept layering this gorgeous scene would emerge. I am still in awe of his work even to this day. Watching him on tv are some of my fondest memories as a child.


The collage in this piece is from a hymnal that I picked up at our local goodwill type store, called Bargains Galore in Waupun, WI. I love using music sheets in my pieces.


I love my big headed girl! She was so fun the create. Her dress is made with washi tape, her shoes have little swirls on ends and her hair is blowing in the wind. I would like to improve on how to draw hair. Make it look a bit more free, but this was a good start for me.

When I started stamping on the tree I thought I had ruined it, but then I started adding the white dots. The white dots gave it more of a magical look which I absolutely love! I definitely would like to try this look again.

Here is the bonus lesson by Gracie.


This piece has a lot of different layers for the background. But everything was brought together by adding gesso with a brayer on top. I love swirls! They were my signature when I was working with stained glass. So creating the tree was a lot of fun for me.

Til next time…


Life Book 2014 – Week 10

This week the lesson was about paint over collage. I almost threw this piece in the trash. I really don’t even want to blog about it. But I made a commitment and I’m going to follow through.

First we started with collage. We were also supposed to pick out a picture of a woman’s face from a magazine. I don’t subscribe to any magazines. So it was slim pickin’s around the house. But eventually I found a girl from a toilet paper ad. The picture was a little too small, but I didn’t have anything else.


I don’t have any progress photos because, like I said, I felt like throwing this thing out the whole time. The hair was the biggest issue for me. I just don’t understand how to paint hair. If they ever offer a class on it… I’m going to be the first person to sign up!


I am grateful for this lesson despite the less than thrilling outcome. This lesson taught me that you can take a bunch of things that don’t really go together and make them look cohesive with a little gesso, oil pastels and a brayer.

I think I would have really enjoyed the lesson if I had started with a larger face. So I’m planning on doing it again with a different picture. I had a ton of fun with the collage and I look forward to playing with that again.


We were supposed to write about our positive connections in our life in a sort of poem like way. Tamara was really great about explaining how to do that, but when it came time to do that part the words just came out of me without even thinking. But I will definitely keep Tamara’s instructions in my mind and use them next time I’m doing something like this.

All in all… I learned some great lessons that I can apply in future projects.

Til next time…


First Handmade Art Journal

I’ve always wanted to try making my own art journal. Pages, cover, everything! For months I’ve been hoarding cereal and breakfast bar boxes.


To make the cover stronger, I glued the flaps down instead of cutting them off.


I roughed up the cardboard with a piece of sandpaper and the gesso’d everything. After it was dry I painted the cover blue. It HAD to be blue! It was a gift for my mother and that is her favorite color. While the paint was still wet I scratched some lines in it to make a grid pattern.


I added scrapbook paper to the inside covers and inside the spine.


I had a bit of air dry clay leftover from a project so I rolled it out and swished a doily into it. It was cute, but I had no idea what to do with it so I tucked it away in a drawer for a later date. So I pulled it out for this project and decided to make it into a flower.


I received a big bag of random ephemera from a friend. The heart on the front cover came from that. I thought it was a rub on at first, but after trying that I realized that it wasn’t a rub on. It came on a plastic sheet with a bunch of other shapes and looked like it should come off somehow. I cut out the heart and placed it on the cover. I took a heat gun to it and it eventually came off of the plastic onto the cover. I did make the paint bubble a bit doing that. So I’m still not sure how these shapes are supposed to be applied. Maybe it’s not something that’s supposed to be applied to paint or paper. Maybe it’s an iron on for clothes. But the shapes and colors seem perfect for art. I don’t know. I guess I’ll just use it however I’d like and not worry about the intended purpose.


I used my spray inks and randomly painted a bunch of pages. I wanted them to be colorful, but not too busy because I wanted my mother to feel free to journal on them. I made 3 signatures with 3 pages folded in half.







I was short on time and had to take off to meet my mother for supper so I forgot to take a picture of the spine. I used my cropadile and punched holes in the spine and set some grommets. I punched holes in the pages to coordinate with the holes in the spine. I fed ribbon through each signature and tied them on the outside of the spine. Next time I’ll add beads to the ends of the ribbon.

At the very last minute I added some grommets to each side of the cover and tied a ribbon through them. I didn’t like how the book wanted to stay open. I really thought it needed a closure.


I completed the front with the words Judy’s Journal. Overall, I’m happy with how it turned out. It was my first attempt at making something like this. I had a lot of fun and I have ideas of how to improve the next one.


Til next time…


Life Book 2014 – Week 9 – Part Two (sort of)

Since this was an artist interview week we didn’t have an official lesson. Tamara did give us a journal prompt of 50’s or Retro and I intended on doing something with that theme, but it wasn’t looking how I wanted it to look. So I started painting intuitively, like our lesson from last week.


It may not be a masterpiece, but it was fun. In fact, all these lessons have been fun. This art is just for me. No pressure (except the pressure I put on myself to try new things) to make these art pieces into something I need to sell. And I’m learning new techniques and styles that I can add to my art toolbox.

During this “break” week I also organized my Art Room a bit. Check out my neat and clean closet!


I picked up these glass jars from Goodwill for a buck a piece! Doesn’t it make my ribbon look yummy?


And when I was out last weekend at Michaels I picked up a couple more 4-drawer units for under my table. Now it looks more like a desk and they are extremely useful. Nice deep drawers for holding my paint, ink sprays and other things I like to keep close by while I’m creating.


My Art Room is really coming together! I just need to finish the trim and add one more countertop and I should be done. I’ll take some more pictures once I get that far and do a blog post about it.

Til next time…