"Holy Spirit, think through me till your ideas are my ideas." ~Amy Carmichael

" Holy Spirit, think through me till your ideas are my ideas.”

~ Amy Carmichael

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Revisiting and Finishing a Journal Past

At the end of this journal, I wrote out much of Psalm 27, which I found very meaningful during the time the rest of the journal was made. Here is the Psalm illuminated:

Generally I finish my journals. This one was an exception. When I stopped a number of years ago, it was almost finished, but I left the last page and the back cover blank. I think I stopped because the journal had already served its purpose by the time I got to the last page and I didn't need it anymore. 

This journal was the one I worked through my childhood in, processed forgiveness, acceptance, and experienced redemption. It was where I realized hearing God and responding in a visual language can help in healing. After I experienced the healing, I could close the journal and leave it all there. The freedom was amazing. God is so good!

Recently, all of a sudden, I wanted it done, visually. This time there was none of the emotion attached, just light-hearted doodling and writing. Fun. I soaked in the words of the text as I made the page come to life.

Then I realized I wanted an envelope to put notes etc. into. The first page had a pocket, but things were going every-which-way so I decided to put an envelope on the inside back cover. 

I glued painted tissue paper onto the back inside cover which I had previously painted with gesso. I used the DecoArt Matte Medium and it worked beautifully. While that was drying I cut the flap of the envelope. Then I glued painted paper strips onto the envelope. When that was dry, I doodled with paint and pen. The last step was gluing the envelope onto the page with "Yes" glue. The glue is heavy duty and just the right thing for gluing a larger envelope.

A fitting closure, filled with gratitude and a prayer...

surprise me with 
Your Christmas Joy,
and fill me with
seeing the
Wonder of You.

Monday, December 8, 2014

NEW! My Favorite Matte Medium and a Step-by-Step Experiment!

Matte medium is one of those products I use very often in art journaling, a staple really. I've tried a few various kinds and get a lot of questions about it. Well, I have had the opportunity to try a new one and am happy to announce I am thoroughly pleased with this matte medium, my FAVORITE!  It is DecoArt's Media Matte Medium:

It has a lovely smooth, clear finish and spreads easily and evenly. So far, I have used it to seal in my doodling before applying other layers. Using a soft, inexpensive filbert or flat brush, I've brushed the matte medium on the paper before using other techniques. I have glued tissue paper onto gessoed paper with great results (also using a brush), and glued paper onto my journal pages with good adhesion. 

It's hard to get the exact feel and look of it in a photo, but here are a few examples of pages where I've used DecoArt Media Matte Medium:

I also experimented with DecoArt's Antiquing Cream. Usually I can get an antique parchment look with just paint and water and sometimes with adding glazing liquid. Sometimes people have a hard time not getting hard edges and having it look naturally aged, so I thought I'd try this product which has an unlimited working time. Here are some step-by-step photos of the progress made in a recent art journal page as we are getting ready to close 2014.

Steps for above photo:
  1. First I drew the doorway and cut out the door, leaving the left side uncut.
  2. Then with a bone folder, I creased the left side of the door 
  3. Then I coated the entire page with matte medium and let it dry.
  4. Next I glued the music onto the journal page with matte medium, and brushed the medium on top of the music so that the entire two-page spread was now coated with the matte medium.
  5. When It was dry, I turned the page and on the back of the page where I could see the cut line for the door, I cut along the cut lines of the door with a craft knife. 
  6. I gently opened the "door", folding along the crease made at the left side of the door to make a hinge so the door would open at least part way. 
I wanted it to look aged parchment, so this was my chance to try out the antiquing cream.

I branched out with the product a bit and used a dirty brush technique with the black antiquing cream, quinacridone gold and burnt umber fluid acrylics. You can see I used very little of all three, one dot each. The dirty brush technique is when you dip part of the tip of the brush into one color and then another. And in this case, also with the antiquing cream (which is really more like the consistency of the fluid acrylics). 

I didn't know if the combination of the three would still allow the antiquing cream to be workable longer or if it would smear when I put matte medium on top of it when I was done. Happily, the antiquing cream allowed me to move the paint/cream mixture around, blot and rub it around with a cloth-like paper towel, and get just the look I wanted. After I let it dry, I brushed on a coat of matte medium. No smearing. Yay!

I moved onto the next step, making the door using DecoArt Burnt Umber and Carbon Black Fluid Acrylics.

You can get info on these products and more at: http://decoart.com/mixedmedia/

Now my favorite part, doodling and the text. I drew and wrote some of the basic parts in pencil and then went over it with pen, and then paint, using my usual techniques. 

The door of a new year and a new season of opportunities is beginning to open...

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Check out these Art Journaling Inspirations!


I am thankful for the lovely people I have met online, and want to share their loveliness with you! Kiala Givehand found me online and we met in person at one of my Art Journaling workshops. She is beautiful, motivated, and motivating! She asked me to write an article on "Why I Art Journal" to post on Art journaling blog. Just click on this link, posted December 1, 2014, to go to her blog and read the article:  http://www.howtoartjournal.com/blog/. She has some great interviews on her blog too! Her website is: http://www.kialagivehand.com 

Here is the video included in the article on Kiala's blog:


If you have been following my blog, you know I got to visit Bernice Hopper in the UK. We met online and have become real life friends. She, along with a group of lovely women have started an online creative community of faith, and am excited to have just joined! It is well worth checking out! It's called His Kingdom Come. Click on the link to take you to the home page. It is quite wonderful and very informative. The home page gives a great idea of what is going on with the community. There are many options of groups to join, with various media and themes to choose from within the large group. 

Thank you for visiting. 
Today may you be blessed with hope and abundant creativity!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Profound Simplicity of Center

I was overwhelmed. I didn't know what to do or how to pray. I got my visual prayer journal out and just sat there. A CD was on the table. I decided to draw around the outside hoping something might come to me. Then I drew around the inside circle:

As I looked at the little circle inside the big circle a thought hit me: I am like the little circle. God is like the big one. I am in God. God is in me. God encircling me, all around me. God knows me and I am loved by God. Complete. Enough. I am enough because I am in God.

I am revisiting this simplicity through centering prayer, taking intentional time to simply be with God, resting in his presence. This is the core I need to live from ~ with God ~ planted in his love for me. I inhale, "God you are in me." Exhale, "and I am in You." The symbol of a little circle held, loved, and protected by the big circle. 

"Thank you God,
that no matter where I go,
You are there,
encircling me,
with me,
in me."

~ Valerie Sjodin

"O LORD, you have examined my heart 
and know everything about me. 
You know when I sit down or stand up.
You know my thoughts even when I'm far away.
You see me when I travel and when I rest at home.
You know everything I do...
I can never escape from your Spirit!
I can never get away from your presence!"

~ Psalm 139:1-2,7 NLT

Saturday, November 22, 2014

A Quick London Adventure... Our European Finale

We took a train to London. It was a quick trip. What to do?  We stayed near the London Eye, across the river from Big Ben and Parliament buildings. You can feel the power of London. We felt small.

It helped to stay near a central location, close to the tube. We took it everywhere we went, or walked.

I especially wanted to see the Westminster Abbey. We got there just in time for the last tour. So much history. I especially wanted to see the memorial to Wilberforce. 

After we left, we walked around the city a bit. In the park along the Thames River there is the Buxton Memorial, commemorating the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833. It was donated by Charles Buxton MP in memory of his father Sir Thomas F. Buxton, Wilberforce, Clarkson, MaCauley, Brougham, Dr. Lushington, and others.

Our grand adventure coincided with the 100 year anniversary of the start of World War I. It was both moving and sobering to visit some of the war memorials in Scotland and England. The Tower, Castle in London, was especially moving. On one hand the ceramic poppies spilling out of windows of the castle walls onto the grassy moat was so beautiful. On the realization that each individual poppy represents a British military death during the first world war is astonishing. There are so many, and then it looked like blood.

These memorials, and others like it, remind me that some things must be fought for. The sacrifice is so great! It makes me so thankful for those who have fought for freedom, love and justice. What each person chooses and does is important. 

At the end of our adventure we leave for home, changed, blessed, wanting to make a difference, and looking forward to being at home, in our community with people we love and care about. 

My favorite place in London that we visited is the British Library, the permanent exhibit, The Art of the Book. I couldn't take photos, so what I took with me, I took inside, and it is already influencing my perspective and art. My experience there, along with the book-art exhibits at the Dublin Castle and Trinity Library have caused me to value personal journals more than I ever have. That encourages me to value my own journals more and see the value in chronicling the life journey. Each person's story is important.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Meeting Online Friends in England

We flew from Dublin to Birmingham, UK. Roger and Bernice picked us up from the airport. So kind! What a gift they gave us! Amazing really. Bernice and Roger took us to places we would've never even known about without them. Bernice and I met online. I got involved in Bernice's art journaling group challenges: The Gratitude Journal, The A to Z of Me, and the Identity Journal. Roger and Bernice are walkers, and they walk along the canals. I had no idea Britain has more canals than Venice and they were the major source of transportation at one time. Keith loved the long boats, made to just fit through the canal locks. So beautiful!

Our first full day in Solihull-Birmingham, Roger and Bernice took us to the Black Country Museum. It covers 26 acres of former industrial land, including a mine. Historical buildings were found and moved to make a village that tells the story of the area, where the industrial age began. Here we are on the bridge.

Below is a photo I took of the rooftops of the village. The story is rather sad really. The living conditions, so awful, people weren't expected to live past their thirties, and less than half of the children lived. We saw demonstrations of chain making, heard stories of home life, toured the mine. Clearly not the "good ol' days." I saw why Charles Dickens needed to write the books he did. Many of them  started as articles. He would see the public reaction to his writing and then continue writing. Also, Tolkien was inspired by some of the area we visited. I was impressed by the power of story, and the link between location, happenings, and the writing of fiction. There are still stories that need to be told....

We walked around the Gas Street Basin near Birmingham City Centre. It reminded Keith and I of the renovated Pearl District in Portland, Oregon, except it had canals! Bridges, Buildings, water and long boats. Wonderful!

Then we went to Stratford, the home town of Shakespeare. Once again, reminded of the power of story, and the influence of place. After that we stopped by the lovely Baddsley Clinton house. Just the kind of English cozy manor I had hoped we'd see.

building in Stratford
One highlight for me was visiting Jubilee Church in Solihull. I had done an Art Journaling study based on a sermon series Pastor Rob Davey did on Identity. Soooo good! He was starting another series on the day we were there, the Kingdom of God. We were so blessed to be there to worship with the people, and felt totally at home. We got the added blessing of spending time with the Davey family too! Wow! What an adventure with Bernice and Roger. Surprises until the very end.... I didn't know Tikka Masala was the national food of England.  It was our final meal there. Yum!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Art Mapping & Exploring Ireland's Southeast Coast

We had done the tourist thing, and now we wanted to see beyond. So with Sean at the wheel, we set out with just an idea of where we wanted to go for a couple of days along the southeast coast of Ireland. In the car, I noted where we went and what we did. Then after our outings, when I had time, I made a little map of the highlights.

Our first stop, thanks to the tip from Francesca, was Cobh (pronounced Cove). On the way there, Keith and Sean got to explore a very un-tourist Belvelly Castle. There is a huge and beautiful cathedral in the town of Cobh, St. Colman's Cathedral. It sits up high in the Coastal town overlooking the water. 
View of just one part of St. Colman's Cathedral in Cobh
Inside center isle at St. Colman's Cathedral

Cobh is full of history, and tragedy. It was the last place the Titanic stopped before it's infamous voyage. It is also where the sinking of the Lustania took place on May 7, 1915. This statue is in honor of those who worked to rescue people and bury the dead.

We didn't want to rush, so we went at a comfortable pace, enjoying the journey. 

Taking a break in lovely Kinsale
Driving, not knowing what's next... a surprise not mentioned on any map. In Timoleague there is an old Friary founded in the 13-14th century that had been burned by the British in 1642. It is now, and has been for a very long time, a cemetery. Graves are on the outside of the walls, but also on the inside. We were quite fascinated by it. I would've thought it would feel creepy, but it didn't. We had just come from Charles Fort near Kinsale, and that felt much worse, even though it was very clean. It made me wonder about places and the history of the people.  

Sean was determined to find an authentic Irish pub, not focusing on Tourists. It was worth the pursuit. Annie May's Bar in Skibbereen had wonderful fish and chips and of course Guinness. It was family run and the people were so friendly! 

A few other places we visited while in Cork County were Midleton, getting there just in time for the last tour of the Jamison Whiskey factory. The tour guide was incredible! The whiskey good too :)

Dungarvan harbour
We ended our Irish adventure together in Dungarvan, eating dinner at a pub with old castle walls, and the ambience to match, with a good meal and drinks to celebrate.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Art Journaling and a lot of Blarney

As we planned our trip, it was important each person got to do and see their top two things. Keith's top one was castles. As you can imagine, the rest of us Americans were pretty happy about that. We did see a number of castles, and even stayed in a place with a view of one in Cork County - Blarney.

Before we arrived at Blarney, we took the train from Dublin to Cork. I love the train! From there we were to rent a car. Yikes! Driving on the other side of the road. Not me. Sean and Keith signed up as drivers, and Sean loved it. I admit, I usually sat behind the driver, not watching. I figured it was probably better for everyone that way. It is amazing how adaptable we are though. Each day it seemed more natural than the last. 

On our train ride, Merri and I did some art journaling. Here is photo of her working in her travel journal.  To see more of Merri's travel journal, visit her blog at http://atravelingtwo.blogspot.com/

Arriving in Cork, we were on foot, looking for lunch and the car rental dealer. After walking a few blocks we came across a lovely cafe - such a blessing for travelers. Francesca's Cafe Culture. It was like an oasis. Wonderful food, coffee, and service!

Merri at Francesca's Cafe Culture
The car was rented, we found our way to our rental, and then drove around the little town of Blarney to the castle. I've heard it is a "tourist trap." Well, I guess it kind of is BUT we were tourists, so we looked at the time and figured we had just enough time to go through the castle and grounds before it closed. Actually, it was the perfect time: not very many people, tour buses had gone, the light was perfect for photographing and the weather couldn't be better. We were blessed. We took tons of photos. Here are a few:

view of a tower from the upper part of the Blarney Castle
View from main floor of Blarney Castle, showing 3 floors (without the ceilings)
One thing we noticed that is quite different in Ireland, than in the US, is the sections of the castle are all open. A sign is posted that you enter at your own risk etc. It was nice for us to be able to roam around a bit.

At the top floor of the Blarney Castle
The place where people kiss the Blarney stone is to the right of this photo. Merri and Sean kissed the stone. There is no way I'm kissing a rock with all those potential germs. I took their photos instead. Honestly, you can't believe anything they say about Blarney. It has a reputation of the gift of gab that is as old as Ol' Blarney himself. So we read the signs with a smile and know that a sense of humor is required. Here is a photo of an Art installation, by artist Sandra McCowen (www.ssandram.biz), at the foot of the castle:

The grounds and pathways are beautiful and well worth a visit:

More Art Journaling in my little watercolor journal:

Happy & Blessed at Blarney!