Life Book 2014 Wrap Up

Ok, ok, ok. I know that I said I would write a blog post about my Life Book lessons every week. But life got in the way and I only made it about half way through with the blog posts. My husband and I run a vinyl decal/banner business called Stephen Edward Graphics.
Our business really took off and we’ve been scrambling to just keep up with all the orders. So I didn’t have time to write the blog posts, but I did continue to do the lessons. At the very end of the course we are supposed to take all the pages we made during the year and bind them into a book. A Life Book. And that’s exactly what I did. We were given several ways to do it, but ultimately I decided to go with a binding method I saw on YouTube by Sea Lemon.


I bought some book board at an art store, I cut it to size with a razor blade and decorated the covers. My color for the year was pink so I decided that would be a good color to use. I also added some chipboard letters for a dimensional look. To make my pages sturdier I glued them to scrapbook paper. Actually, I began gluing them with gel medium, but that made my pages wrinkle a bit. Tamara said something about using a double sided tape if that happened, but my double sided craft tape doesn’t hold very well. ***Lightbulb*** I run a sign business! I have super strong double sided tape we use for finishing banners! I grabbed some and began taping. What a difference! The pages looked great with no wrinkles. The only issue is that you better place your pages right the first time because they are not coming back off again! Any wonkiness I had I just used my trimmer to square up.





Now on to the stitching… I picked up the binding stuff I needed from the same art store I purchased the book board. Needles, waxed thread and an awl. I followed the video and used three holes at the bottom and three at the top. I made the holes using the awl. That took quite awhile. In the YouTube video she said something about estimating the thread by pulling it out the width for as many pages as you have. I wasn’t sure if she was talking about for each hole or what?!?? I took my tiny little spool of waxed thread and proceeded to pull out the width of about 40 pages. But after I got to 20 it seemed excessive. So I stopped there and counted to 20 again for each hole. But I ran out of thread when I finished counting for the third hole. Now what? Well, I really wanted to get started and I needed thread and needles for 6 holes. So I cut the 3 lengths of thread in half. Now I have enough! I thought, if I run out I can always tie more on once my order from Etsy gets here. And I was ready to go. I immediately realized that I needed 6 curved needles to do this process. The straight ones did not work well. It was hard to get the thread back out and around. So I messaged my sister and asked her to pick up some curved needles for me and bring them to the house since she was working with me the next day. Luckily, Joann’s had some packs of just curved needles (found the the upholstery section). Yay!

Once, I had the curved needles I was finally ready to go! I followed the instructions from the video. At first it was a bit awkward, but I eventually got into a rhythm. I do recommend using the waxed thread. I would have had such a knotted mess if not for the waxed thread. It took hours, but I finally completed my Life Book! And I had a bunch of thread left over for each hole. So maybe next time I will string out as many pages as I have and then cut the thread into equal sections depending on how many holes I have. Not sure if that will be right, but it’s all a learning experience so I guess I’ll just have to try it to see.


Here is my first Life Book! I made a flip through video of my 2014 Life Book, my very first movie with the help of iMovie and my iPad Mini. The very first face (well… it’s actually a faceless face) is not a Life Book lesson. Just something I did when I first started painting. I was too scared to actually paint the face back then. What a difference one lesson can make. I hope you enjoy the video!


I can’t believe I did all those pages! I had just started painting in October 2013 and Life Book started in January of 2014. But from the very first lesson I was making things that just blew me away. I’m not trying to toot my own horn. It’s just that I never thought I could paint. I thought it was a talent you were born with and I knew I didn’t have it. So when I was able to paint a face for the first lesson, I just couldn’t believe it. I spent a long time just admiring her. I felt such JOY (My word for the year. Very fitting, don’t you think?) with the realization that I really could paint. I wish I had known this sooner, I would have started painting a long time ago. But I’m here now and having so much fun.

I just started my lessons for Life Book 2015 and I can already see an improvement in my skills. I can’t wait to share my journey with you. I’m so excited to see what this year brings!

Til next time…



Life Book 2014 – Week 20

I am waaaaaaayyyyyyyyy behind on my blog posts about Life Book 2014. And I’ll admit that I’m a little behind with completing my lessons as well.

Week 20 was taught by Serena Bridgeman. She’s a wonderful teacher, but I do have to say that I didn’t really connect with the Buddha image. I also had a hard time with painting over the spray ink background. It kept reactivating and it made it very hard to paint the face over it.


We were supposed to paint the face like it was in shadow. The head lit from behind. But after struggling with the spray ink background I gave up going that far. But I’m still pretty pleased with the outcome.


I did enjoy painting the lotus flower. We did it on another piece of paper and then cut it out and glued it to the front of this one.



Well, it’s all finished. I did enjoy making the background, but not so much the Buddha. You know what is really great about Life Book? That even if you don’t connect with a lesson or a teacher you still learn something. It’s good to be pushed out of your comfort zone from time to time.

Til next time…


Life Book 2014 – Week 19

This weeks lesson was about honoring your inner world by Danielle Daniel. Try saying that name three times fast! Lol!

I struggled with this one a bit. Letting go and freely painting just isn’t my thing. But I hope that the more I do it, it will become easier for me.

We were told to randomly collage and paint in the background. This is as random as I get.




Then we painted a girl in a meditative or praying position. I love that all the Life Book teachers have been really accepting of all belief systems. I was a little worried that as a Christian I would have a problem with all the “universe” talk and meditation. That I would feel uncomfortable or left out of some things because they clashed with my beliefs, but I have been pleasantly surprised on how accepting all the teachers have been. For example… one of the past lessons we were asked to write a letter to the universe, but the teacher also said that it could be a letter to God (which was who I chose to write my letter to). And I have really enjoyed the different meditations that have been included here and there with the course. I find them to be very relaxing and stress relieving.


The teacher also included a quote by Emily Dickinson that I really liked. So I decided to include the same quote into my piece.


Forever is composed of Nows

At one point, I stopped worrying about making it look like the teacher’s piece and just started to paint how I felt. I decided to be present and be in the now…



Til next time..


Life Book 2014 – Week 17

Week 17’s lesson was taught by Tascha Parkinson. We were to think about what we were grateful for and use that in our piece. But first we started with drawing a girl.


We were to draw the head twice the size of the body. Mission accomplished, but my first attempt was too big to put on my background. Plus, this girl just looked off. So I tried again. This time I made her too small. Third times the charm I guess!

We also had to use watercolors to paint her. Yikes! I’ve never used them before so this was brand new to me. I tried a practice run on my second drawing. Everything was going well except when I got to the mouth. The face was still wet so when I did the mouth it bled all over. It looked like a child after they’ve eaten a cherry Popsicle. It ran all over her chin. Glad I practiced first. But I learned some things; let things dry before painting adjoining areas, keep paper towels near by to suck up excess watercolor and try to loosen up. Watercolors are supposed to be a bit organic looking.


Now on to the background. We used a dry brush technique and just blended the colors that way. Then I took some Hot Pink paint, watered it down and flicked it onto the page. Background complete!


Now I just had to put it all together.


In the center, I wrote all the different things I’m grateful for. All are pretty self explanatory except one. Windows… I am NOT referring to the PC operating system! I am an Apple Girl all the way. My first Apple computer was the Apple IIC. I’ve been a loyal consumer since the 80’s. And I love my Mac! I am referring to actual windows. Like in your house. I’m actually working on a blogpost about… I guess… me. It started as something else, but I just couldn’t stop writing so now it’s kind of my life’s story. Well, just the last 10 years or so. But that blog post will explain why I am so grateful for windows. And why I was obsessed with them when we were looking for our new house.

Back to the project… I had a lot of fun learning how to paint with watercolors. And the dry brush technique I will definitely use again. I also liked the look of cutting the girl and flowers out and leaving a bit of white space around them. It makes them look cartoony, which is fun!


Til next time…


Life Book 2014 – Week 16

This week our teacher is the very fun Traci Bautista! We were to create “in the moment”, which is hard for me to do. I plan everything! So this random play was both fun and hard for me.

First, she showed us how to make hot glue stencils. Why have I not been doing this already? Such a simple concept, but an amazingly cool technique!


I made the hot glue stencil on my palette paper (my daughter was using my Teflon sheet), but it did NOT come off of it very well. I will definitely be using the Teflon next time!


I painted pink, in different shades, all over my page. I used some of those cheap paints you get in the little bottles. They are thinner paint and blended more easily. I also used my new hot glue stencil with some spray inks.


Then I just played and played and played. I stamped, used a toilet paper roll, sprayed a silver glimmer spray through a stencil (which doesn’t really show), painted stars and used the back of my brush to create dots.


Fun stuff! I didn’t even wait for the paint to dry before I took the pictures. I plan on making a lot more hot glue stencils. What a great idea!


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

This week we don’t have a lesson. It’s more of a breather week so people can get caught up if they fell behind. I was determined before I even started Life Book to make sure I was keeping up with the classes. To make time for them no matter what else was going on. I have a tendency to let my business (Stephen Edward Graphics) to take over my life. When a message (or convo) comes in, I am determined to answer it right away or at the very most within 24 hours. I take customer service and making the orders very seriously and maybe that’s why our business has thrived. I really do care about my customers. But it can make personal time nonexistent. So when I signed up for this (actually is was a Birthday present from my sweet husband) I decided that I would stay on track, keep up with the classes and write a blog post every week. The blog post thing was kind of a public way of holding myself accountable, giving myself a deadline that I couldn’t push off.

So here I am completely up-to-date, with nothing to catch up on. Tamara still gives us something to inspire us on these weeks with no lesson. This week is an artist interview with Claudine Hellmuth. It was interesting to learn about her background, process and licensing. I enjoyed the interview and what she said about keeping one thing for yourself. That even when you get into a licensing arrangement with a company and they are telling you what changes to make that you can lose yourself a bit. So it’s important to keep something for yourself, like an Etsy shop. So you have at least total control of one thing artistically. I think that is a very important idea!

I don’t foresee myself ever getting into a licensing agreement. That’s the stuff for real artists. But it is nice to hear an inside perspective on the whole thing. You never know what can happen in the future.

Tamara did also post a video from Youtube about the Creative Process. I think it’s something that every artist should hear.

And lastly, we were given a prompt. Just in case some of us would like to create something. It is 50’s or Retro. I have an idea already involving one of my new stamps. So I’ll be working on that later this week. So stay tuned for another blog post about it.

Til next time…