The Creative Source

I know. I've been MIA after telling you I was back. I've missed you and can't wait to tell you what I've been up to.

First, I'm learning not to beat myself up for having bad days- days when I barely make it out of bed much less get into the studio or write. I'm also learning to pace myself on good days. While this is extremely hard to do, it is a must to having more good days than bad. So, what have I been doing on those good days? I've been getting back into the 21 Secrets Art Journaling Playground. This year, instead of 8 weeks of fun, the workshops have been extended to the end of 2011. (You can still get in on the fun. Head over to Dirty Footprints Studio to sign up!). I'm using the wonderful techniques I'm learning there in my Promises Journal.

There is one thing that I've observed not only in the 21 Secrets classes but in most of the art classes and communities that I've joined. They all believe that art, in all of it's forms, is a spiritual gift and experience. However most think the source of this is either within themselves or from the Universe (celebrated as a deity). I for one, have a problem with relying on a created being for my spiritual growth and artistic expression. Here is a snippet from a blog post that I wrote on the 21 Secrets Ning site:

I have loved this round of 21 Secrets.  I also went through 21 Secrets last fall.  At the time, I was emerging from a pretty deep depression over my recent disability due to a sudden and mysterious illness.  I was at the height of my corporate finance career, holding a CFO position at only 29.  I was a great analyst, manager, visionary, accountant, and information technology specialist.  I could prepare corporate financial statements with the software that I wrote to do it.  I was on top......  And then, I wasn't.  I couldn't bathe myself, dress myself, swallow food, see, think, or breathe well. 


21 Secrets helped me get past the sense of uselessness that I felt, but I learned that I could not look to the universe for answers.  It was created for a purpose just like I was, but still, it was created.  Instead, I found that I had a direct source to the Creator.  God not only made a way for me to have a relationship with Him, He wanted to have that relationship intimately.  That meant that my illness was not the end of me, but the beginning.  He's allowed me time to give my left brain a rest and let my right brain get a work out. 


So, my big project for this round of 21 Secrets is to use all the things I learn here to create a Promises journal, an art journal filled with all the promises of God found in His Word.  Hopefully, it will be a project that I can do over and over to share with those who need something to cling to, stand on, hope in, and claim before they slip into the darkness that I was in, or perhaps bring them back from a place that I became way too aquainted with.


I look forward to seeing old friends and making new ones here.


God bless you all!


Luke 24:5  "...Why do you seek the living among the dead?"


Wedding Cake Challenge

I've often said that I have creative ADD.  It all started with sewing with my grandmother when I was little, then drawing and watercolor in highschool, then scrapbooking and card making, cake decorating, jewelry making, acyrlic painting, and collage.  While this may seem like a progression, it's actually compounded.  I never realize how bad it had gotten until I was asked to make a wedding cake for my cousin.

I haven't made a cake in a couple of years, so I had to dig out all of my tools and supplies.  I mean literally dig.  My 10 x 11 studio/home office houses all of my hobby supplies along with my coupon collection and business books (I'm also an accountant).  So, out came the paint and paper scraps and the rolly cart with all my beads and wire.  Then, I had to push aside the fabric scraps and collection of "I-can-do-something-with-this" items.  Finally, I found my cart of cake decorating supplies, fondant, and icing sugar.

Now, time to make the cake.  I actually had the cakes baked by Publix.  This was going to be a monster 4-tier cake, and I didn't have the right pans to make every tier.  The bride and groom left all of the planning to the groom's mother, my first cousin.  So, I had complete freedom on the cake design.  I wanted it to be elegant but simple.  I found an awesome technique on I am Baker for a rose cake.  This is the simplest technique imaginable and it was just the wow-factor my cake needed.

The 6" tiers were alternating chocolate cake with raspberry mousse filling and white cake with lemon curd filling.  All of the layers were iced with homemade buttercream.  The bottom and third layers were covered with fondant with a fondant belt embellishment. 

It's obviously not a professional job, but everyone thought it was beautiful and delicious.  I'm on a gluten-free/ sugar-free diet, so I didn't actually get a piece.  My wonderful husband was so great to help me with the fondant, delivery, and set-up.  But, strongly urged me to never do a cake this size again :).  I will say that if you decorate cakes or want to learn, check out Sweet Wise.  They have awesome technique videos on YouTube and you can order online from their store.  I'm lucky to live about 45 minutes from them and have taken several of their classes.  One thing that I cannot live without is The Mat which the owners actually invented.

Now, time to go put everything in my studio back in its place. 


Etsy Treasuries

I must admit that Etsy is my favorite online shopping experience.  And, I'm not just saying that because I also sell there.  (Warning:  Shameless Plug!!!  Dandelion Designs (dandedesign))  Browsing is easy, searching is fun, and finding treasures is exhilerating.  You can chat with artists and makers, request a custom item, and chat with other Etsy users.  You don't have to be an Etsy seller to sign up and experience everything that Etsy has.

One of the coolest features is Etsy Treasuries.  Treasuries are lists of items curated by an Etsy user.  They are often put together based on a theme, color, or keyword.  For example, here is one of my treasuries that I put together.  See if you can guess the keyword.

It is truly an honor to be featured in a treasury.  As an artist and maker, I really get giddy at the thought that someone searched hundreds of Etsy listings and thought mine was the perfect fit for their treasury.  It's like being featured in a gallery among so many wonderful pieces.  I have been fortunate enough to be featured in several treasuries.  Here are a few:

Be sure to click on these and leave the curators a comment that you saw their treasuries here.  You can even make a purchase straight from the list.  To see all the treasuries that I belong to, or to create one of your own, log on to Etsy and get your shop on!


Is Simple Better?

I have been at work on my first commissioned painting.  It is an abstract landscape of mountains and a field of wildflowers inspired by photographs taken in Denver, CO.  I've been creating studies, trying to determine the best media and exploring all the ways that this landscape can take form.  However, everytime I lay down what I think will be the underpainting, I step away and think, " Wow! I really like that."  I'm drawn to the looseness and simplicity of it.  It has movement and seems to already be telling a story.

As a new arist, I'm still developing my style and aesthetic.  I have so many interests that my style seems to be all over the place.  One day, I'm loose and working with wet paint and a big brush.  The next day, I'm in paper, texture medium, and working almost exclusively with a pallete knife.

However, ever since my visit to Savannah, something about the loose paint with lots of movement just speaks volumes to me.  Is this my signature style?  Who knows.  I'm not sure I definitely want a signature style.  What I do want is to stay authentic to my muse and just go with the flow.  I think that is what Savannah is all about.

I'm currently reading Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.  It is so full of the sights and sounds that I remember of Savannah and the characters are just like the city, full of old southern charm and larger than life.  That is what I want to capture.  So, perhaps my style will be more of a state of mind rather than a brush stroke or color story.


Improvisational Journal Page

I just completed a journal page in one of the 21 Secrets workshops, "Improvisation Station".

 Natasha Reilly is the teacher and her effervescent personality is infectuous! I watch her videos over and over.  I actually joined her workshop and watched all her videos before we went on vacation, but I didn't actually do any of the journaling.

While we were in Savannah, I let the concept of the class really sink in and all the sights and sounds and emotions that I experienced there reveal to me who I really am.

The class started with us writing a standard introduction of ourselves.  You know like, "Hi, my name is Jenn.  I'm a wife in my 30's.....blah blah blah.  After I was finished with this exercise, I couldn't believe how many labels I put on myself.  Here is my first introduction:

After we wrote our introductions, we tore them up and wrote a new introduction in our journals.  This one was an intro without labels and without limts.  Everything that I had experienced in Savannah flooded back.  Here is my new introduction:

I plan on writing this on a big sheet in my "big girl" journal (a 18 x 23 watercolor pad) and keep adding to it.  Now came the fun improvisational part.  Natasha provided prompts that we were to choose at random.  I ended up with senses and the word "sensational".  I decided that the sense that I wanted to journal about was my sense of sight.  The things that I find sensational are all in nature.  So, I took my torn pieces and created a rose and dragon flies.

I really urge you to try this process.  Get out of the boxes that you put yourself in and discover who you really are.  Then, play a little improv game to get your journaling going.


Promises Journal....Don't leave home without one!


My first vlog!!  I'm liking it.  I'm working hard in the studio today and will have new works to show you tomorrow. 

P.S.  Blogger is not letting me upload videos, so I did it through YouTube.  I know the video lags the sound a little, but I'll get the kinks worked out for next time.

Have a great one!!!


Re-Post: Father's Day Folded Shirt Card

Father's Day is fast approaching.....June 19th for those who need a reminder.  This folded shirt card was a huge hit last year, so I thought that I would share it again with you. 

I am a Daddy's girl and proud of it!!  The trouble is that I always want to do something special, but my Dad is tough.  He hates ties, he doesn't have any hobbies--no golf, fishing, or tools--and the only thing he collects is Dallas Cowboy memorabilia.  After 53 years, I think he has everything ever made with a Dallas Cowboy star on it. 

So, I relied on my fellow bloggers for inspiration and saw the cutest card ever on Talk Crafty To Me.  This was perfect for my Dad.  He loves clothes and I can always remember that Dad had to have a shirt with a pocket on the left side for his cigarettes and pens.  It was a really big deal.  So, while in stash busting mode, here is my Dad's Father's Day Card.

See the little pocket?  If your Dad is a tie-wearer, then it would be super cute with a little tie as well.

Here's how I made it.  I started with a 12 x 12 sheet of scrapbook paper that I had in my stash.  And cut it to 8 1/2 x 11.

Hint:  Small prints work best!

Next, fold your trimmed paper in half and crease it well.  A bone folder works magic with this project!

This will become your first valley fold.  Create two more by bringing in the sides to your center fold.  Be careful not to overlap the center fold line.  It's ok to have a little paper showing between your sides.  This will keep your card from having too many layers.

Don't forget to use your bone folder or ruler to really crease your folds well.  Next, open up your paper and bring your right and left corners up to the outside valley folds.

Fold the sides back in, and then fold the bottom up just past the point on the triangle.  For those of you who like to measure, that's about 2 1/4 inches.

I hope you are still with me because now comes the tricky part.  Grab the point at the top of the triangle on each side of the center fold and bring it up and over to the outside fold.  The bottom flap will come up a little.  Don't fight it.  It will actually help you get a better fold.  Be sure to use your bone folder to crease the inside folds well.

While you are here, pinch the side flaps and fold the bottom flat.  A little something like this:

You've just made the shirt sleeves!  Cool, right?  I know.  It's a lot of work, but it's totally worth it in the end.  You've made it this far, so let's keep going!

Let's move up to the top.  Flip the paper over and fold the top down about a 1/2 inch.

Flip your paper back over and fold the top corners at an angle in to the center fold.  You'll fold about three inches down the paper.  This makes the collar.

One last step, then it's time to embellish.  Fold the bottom up and tuck under your collar.  Use your bone folder to press all of the folds and voila!

Now, raid your stash for buttons (I used brads), tags, ties or pockets.  Embellish the inside of your card with a party invitation, a sweet note, or a gift card. 

Here's the inside of my Dad's card.  The tag reads:  "My Dad didn't teach me how to love unconditionally.  He lived and let me watch him do it."

I hope you stuck with this.  As a "suppa-prize", as my sweet nephew calls it, go here to see a how-to video of the steps above and additional ideas on what to do with this unique little card.

LoVe YoU, DAD!

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