"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

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Re-Entry with Renewed Perspective

Blarney Tower from the Castle above
One of the things I was hoping to get on our big adventure was a perspective adjustment. Traveling can encourage that. This journey helped me to step back, live in the present moment as the unknown unfolds, and be open to a new view. 

Sean O'Brien took this photo of me at Blarney Castle
This trip involved so many transitions and connections, that we had to live in the present moment, often without internet connection. I was able to take a break from my virtual life for awhile.

Carrying my luggage at one of many train stations we visited
Our Scotland-Ireland-England adventure was one that Keith and I dreamed about taking and planned a long time for. It had numerous transitions, places, and people to experience. My life is richer because of it.

Now is the time to re-enter our familiar life. We've "hit the ground running" so to speak. It wasn't a surprise. Schedules were filled before we left with: a family reunion, wedding, Art meeting for upcoming show, babysitting my grandson etc.  Even so, I don't want to neglect the reflection of, "What am I taking away, or rather, bringing home, from this trip?"

Sean, Merri and I at St. Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin
The number 1 thing is GRATITUDE. I feel intensely thankful. Keith and I have been married 35 years and are more in love than ever. Of course I am grateful to have been able to take a journey like that in the first place. I loved meeting with old and new friends, and traveling with our daughter and son-in-law was the best time I could have hoped for. I am coming home so grateful for the extraordinary people and life I have.

Keith and I still in love after 35 years of marriage - BLESSED
Sean, Merri, Keith photo bombing my photo of the entry into Trinity College in Dublin
Here are my funny photo bombers doing their thing as I am taking a photo of yet another doorway....

our room key on the island of Iona - the number 4 is Dalet in Hebrew which means "Door" 
Keys and doors have been the symbols for me this year. I have been continually looking for "keys" that open good things.

The Oregon Open Studios, Washington County Artists on October 18-19th from 11 am - 5 pm, seemed like the perfect opportunity to invite you to participate in the "Door of Gratitude" and discover a key of your own. In addition, there will still be prints, cards, and artwork available for purchase, and of course the famous cookies some are counting on, but now you get to participate even more! I am excited and hope to connect with you!

18 & 19 October 2014  |  11am-5pm

TOUR WASHINGTON COUNTY & VISIT ARTISTS’ STUDIOSA project of the Washington County Art Alliance

Here's a link to the Open Studio blog site that has an article telling some of what you can expect when visiting my studio. http://artiststudiotoursofwashingtoncounty.blogspot.com/2014/09/a-chat-with-valerie-sjodin-mixed-media.html

Photo by Heidi Helser Photography©

To read about our Daughter and Son-in-Love's travels visit: http://atravelingtwo.blogspot.com/

Coming up next: a journey through some of the highlights of our journey through art journaling

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Celtic Journal Ready for Artistic Adventure

When I found this old embossed hymnal, I liked the look of it and wondered if it could be transformed into my newest art Journal.  I decided to risk cutting the pages out and using the entire cover as the cover for my Celtic Travel Journal. I get a little nervous when cutting into an old piece I respect and don't want to ruin. I use a lot of music in my art journals, so I will use the music whether it is inside or outside of the cover. But still.... I was nervous! That must be why I forgot to take photos of the process. I'm sorry. I wish I had taken "before" photos. Happily, it worked. Here is a picture of the cover, laying flat, after the pages are out.

Because it had the embossed window and decorations, I painted gold paint on it and then quickly rubbed it off with a cloth to make the embossing stand out and give an antique effect. It was further enhanced with some Golden Fluid Acrylic Sap Green and Paynes Gray. The hymnal was originally a navy color. The original title is under the Celtic knot. You can still see the title on the spine. I will cover that up in the same way I did the Gothic Window, a piece of painted paper with doodling, sealing with gloss medium and gluing on with "Yes" glue.

Even though the original book is old, the spine was still in pretty good shape. I carefully cut just inside the end pages with an Exacto knife so the hymn pages would come out easily together. I was careful not to cut into the spine itself. Then I reinforced the spine with tape. Then I cut a piece of museum board the length of the book and the width of what the spine should be (1 inch for this book). I used a small dab of "Yes" glue at the top and bottom between the spine and the museum board to hold the spine in place. Then I used fabric tape to cover the spine, extending over to the inside front and back covers. My tape has music on it. It took three lengths of tape to cover the spine. At this point I am totally experimenting. I'm thinking I will Cover the end pages later and maybe put a pocket on the inside of the back cover. We'll see....

Now for the inside... I want something that is flexible because I have no idea at this point what the journal will end up looking like. After making the the Granada travel journal, I know I like the accordion style with pages sewn in. I've decided to make the pages out of 140 lb Fabriano Artistico Hot Press Watercolor paper. I measure the height to fit in the journal (8"), along the long length of the watercolor paper (30"). This 8" x 30" strip will be the folded accordion page. Then I measured and tore pages to sew into each of the accordion folds. Shown here:

I clipped the first page of the accordion to the cover to see how it would look and function. I am pleased with the results: a blank book canvas ready for creative adventure!

Okay, now it's ready to travel. I will leave the cover at home because I need to travel light. The inside and cover will be glued together later after more of the inside is done. The accordion pages will fit into a Ziploc plastic bag in my travel art kit. 

Onward and forward....

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Beginning My Celtic Travel Journal

Last month I mentioned that I would be taking a break from my virtual life and going on a pilgrimage and anniversary celebration. So it seemed fitting to share a bit about the journal preparation for the trip. From my last post, I bet you can guess where it is: Scotland and Ireland, and a quick visit to England. In preparation for this trip I looked over my Celtic art books, reviewed relevant lettering styles, researching and drawing Celtic knots, and have been looking at historical reference such as the Book of Kells. I love historical ornament! It's one of my my biggest inspirations for ideas and doodling. The Celtic style is a personal favorites. Using the smaller grid paper moleskine journals, I made three reference books for my Art Journaling. I shared some of the the Doodle Arabic Style in previous posts. I enjoyed it so much, I started two more, one for alphabets and another for Celtic Style. The little journals are so easy to take anywhere, and add to anytime.

Practicing Celtic knots in the little Celtic journal is easy and low risk. I encourage self talk by saying it doesn't matter if I make mistakes there. It is a safe place for exploring the possibilities. The process in the little journal inspired the knot on the cover of the Celtic Journal. After I drew the Celtic Cross in the grid journal, I put the piece of painted paper cut in the shape of the gothic window under the cross drawn on the grid paper. Then I put a piece of transfer paper between them. Next I traced around the grid cross. With the transfer paper, it transferred the drawing onto the painted paper. Then I outlined and shaded the Celtic cross with a Lyra Dark Gray Pencil. I chose that because it looked well with the aged look of the old hymnal cover I am using as the base for the journal. Then I sealed the Celtic knot paper with gloss polymer medium to look more glass like. I glued with paper onto the book cover with "Yes" glue.

As in the Granada Spain reference journal, I played with the lettering of the names of places we would go:

I will take the little Celtic reference journal with me and add to it on our trip. I won't take the journal cover but will take the inside pages in case I get inspired to work in it and have some time.... more about that part of the journal in the next post.....

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Key to Drawing Celtic Knots! Made easy!

In my calendar, Documented Life Journal, I am including keys I find or receive. Keys are the symbol of 2014 for me. They open things. My mind is opening up to Celtic knots. I've always been drawn to them and have even painstakingly drawn them, but since I watched David Nicholls how to draw Celtic Knot videos, I feel like the door to them has been unlocked. I even see the reference books I have on Celtic Knots in a completely new way, a way that makes them more accessible. Here is a sample of a page from my journal and below that, David's Introduction video:

Thank you David Nicholls for showing me a key to Celtic knots on YouTube! David's way of drawing Celtic knots is so doable! His first introduction video is posted below. If you get as much out of it as I did, check out his other videos too!

It's only the beginning for this gal. Here are a few more entries in my journal from August:

Circles and swirls are another Celtic shape that is found in most cultures.
This mandala below is a visual prayer done at the last workshop in Victoria. 
10 petals, 10 women, 10 hearts united in Christ in Love.

"Dear Lord,
even though I am rough around the edges,
You love me.
You collaborate with me,
You bring forth beauty - 
from ashes.
I am grateful."

Valerie Sjodin

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

What About Copyright and this Virtual Life?

It's been about four years since I started my blog, and updated my website, and then there's Pinterest. Lots of changes on the internet. Lots of changes in our culture and lifestyle. If someone had told me eight years ago that I would be doing much of my interacting with creatives and teaching online, I would've said, "No way! I'm a hands-on, face-to-face kind-of-gal."

Honestly, it's been a mixed bag for me. On one hand, I have had the privilege to connect with a creative community of people all over the world. I've seen so many creative ideas, beauty, and concepts that have sparked my imagination. I have access to almost any information at my fingertips, and I love to learn... On the other hand, people tend to think that anything online is available for them to use whether it's theirs or not, and for free, without permission of the artist, author etc. Some people do it on purpose, lack integrity, and don't care about others, forgetting or not caring that they are stealing from another person. What I've also found is, some people don't know they are infringing on a copyright of someone else, and don't know how to find the original source of an image. As I'm educating myself, I thought it would be a good idea to pass on the information so we can play nice, give credit where credit is due, and to respect the intellectual creative property of one another.

How to see if your photos are being used on another site:
Here is a post about how to see if your photos are being used on another site or to locate an artist/source of an image.

How to find the original source for an image:
This one is short and helpful too:

How to find the real owner of a Pinterest picture:
Here is a YouTube video that shows how to find and correct the original owner/artist of the pin on Pinterest.

What Steps to Take when your Copyright has been infringed:

Okay, This site is the best for laying out the steps to take if your images have been stolen. It gives step-by-step instructions for each provider such as Facebook, Google, Yahoo etc. Good advice to follow. Here's the link:

Here are two other copyright information sites:

Here is a good article on what you can do about infringement.

One thing I think is important to remember is that there is another person on the other end of the computer. We need to respect each other and the creative and intellectual property.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

"Orchestrated by the Spirit"

A fitting description, by Pastor Ken Peters, of what happened this past weekend at Saanich Community Church in Victoria BC. 

Because of the difficulties the few weeks prior, we wondered if I was going to be able to go to Victoria BC to facilitate a Visual Prayer & Blessing Workshop and paint during the Sunday service.

Keith and I, selfie on the ferry
Ferry Terminal in Victoria BC - Such a beautiful harbour!
Fortunately we went, and as we arrived safely on the ferry, Keith and I were surprised by abundant blessing, community, and collaboration of the Spirit. The experience exceeded my hopes! We were so cared for. I am both humbled and grateful!
Beverley and I after Worship Painting Sunday morning
Beverley and I first met online through this blog, and then in person at our local Washington County Artists Open Studio Tour last October. That started a conversation that led to this past weekend, going up to their hometown in Victoria BC. Beverley, and her husband Ron, opened their home and hearts to Keith and I. She had arranged for the workshop and worship painting in their church. Because of their thoughtful preparation and God's blessing, the workshop flowed with joy and ease. Here are a few photos from the workshop:

Here are almost all of us. What an amazing and sweet group of women!
During the workshop time, Keith took some photos and joined in the loading of vegetables, as they harvested potatoes and picked other vegetables from the community garden for the food bank. Fun! We got the chance to share life stories, laugh, shed a few tears, and I believe, insight was received the whole way around. Win/win. I love that!

"Orchestrated by the Spirit" or "Spirit Orchestration" is what Pastor Ken Peters called what happened this past weekend. I agree! The visions we had individually for the message, the painting, even the song chosen to close the service was amazing. More than a coincidence.... a collaboration with Holy Spirit and one another! As Ken gave his message, I painted to the cadence of his voice, poetic and meaningful. When he finished, I painted the final strokes. Gratitude!

We ended our time together enriched by new friendships and encouragement to walk in our destinies!

New Friends! Worship Painting at Saanich Community Church, Victoria BC - Valerie Sjodin©
Keith and I finished our time in Victoria with celebration and joy. A wonderful dinner at the 10 Acres and heartfelt blessing with our server Willis. Yes, it is really all about relationships....


Good-bye Victoria! I hope to see you again soon!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Person to Person...Commission, Workshop, Friends

It's all about relationships. We say that a lot around our house. It's part of our values, our beliefs, our culture.

It was a privilege to paint a commission for my chiropractor, Dr. Brian Reuben, at Back to Basics. I love collaborating with like-minded people, bouncing ideas around, working on a "team" project. That's what the process of this painting was like. While I was painting I worshiped and was filled with joy. It flowed, and I love when that happens! This photo shows Dr. Reuben and I and the painting hanging in his office waiting area. My husband Keith took the photo. Great fun!

If you need a good chiropractor in the Beaverton-Hillsboro Oregon, USA area, check out Back to Basics at:
Here's the space before the hanging

Visual Prayer Workshop ~ August 16, 2014 in Victoria BC, Canada

If your like me, the person-to-person connection is the best. If you live or are in Victoria BC, on August 16th, I will be facilitating a Visual Prayer & Blessing Workshop. Here is the info:
Where: Saanich Community Church, lower hall
When: Saturday, August 16, 2014 9 am - 12:30 pm
Cost: $40 (includes refreshements)
To Register: contact Bev at  email: bev.teichrob@ymail.com or phone: 250-727-0807. Register by August 11, 2014
Supplies to Bring: pen for drawing/writing, colored pencils, Bible, optional pencil and eraser
I will also be worship painting on Sunday August 17, 11:00 am Morning Church service.

Another person to person highlight this summer was meeting Kathleen Sharp in my studio. We had previously met in my online classes and on social media. Thank you for blessing me Kathleen!

Sometimes it's hard for me to know what that should look like online. I have a lot of questions and concerns about that. In our technology driven world, we often forget there is another person to consider. I will likely post a bit less the next six to eight weeks. It is time to evaluate, pray, listen, go on a pilgrimage etc....

Many creative blessings to you today!


Saturday, July 26, 2014

Insight Walking the Labyrinth

On the last page of the journal shown in the last post, I made a simple labyrinth that can be followed with my finger much like the actual labyrinth I made a labyrinth in our yard from leftover bricks. It, and the writing next to it, reminds me of the insight displayed in the labyrinth. Here is a photo of the labyrinth outside the studio. 

For me, most often the labyrinth walking represents my faith and life journey. A maze and a labyrinth look very similar at first glance. The journey is even similar in some ways but also very different. A maze has many entrances and also dead ends. Getting lost or confused is a part of the journey and fear easily creeps in. It is doubtful if there is a center or if one is on the right path. My faith is more like a labyrinth. It has the twists and turns that seem like a maze, but while walking it, I am always journeying to or out from the center, even when facing the opposite direction. There is no need for fear because I know I will reach the center. What I experience in the center, I can take back out with me. When I turn from the center, back into the world, I can walk in confidence, knowing my Center. I know where I have come from and where I am going. Jesus is my center, and I believe he goes to the ends of the earth to meet a person is on the path they are on and to invite each one to journey with Him.

Here below is a photo of the labyrinth as a fire pit with Adirondack chairs around it:

The journal labyrinth page with the actual labyrinth/fire pit area in the background:

Here is the back cover of the journal as well as the back side of the labyrinth page:

This journal was started as a demo in my 2-day Art Journaling Workshop. The studio and covered area overlook the labyrinth seen above. Below shows the front of the journal where I demonstrated marbling, painting papers, and working with stencils.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Praying in Mystery and Search for Meaning

Sometimes I just don't know. That can apply to just about any area of life. I feel the uncertainty. I feel small, inadequate. I seek, but clear answers seem illusive. The more I know, the less I know. Paradox. Mystery. Search for meaning. 

The Circle Prayer is written in a spiral form here on the left page. 
At times like that I often turn to what Celtic Christianity calls Caim praying, a kind of prayer to pray when it's hard to focus  and praying is hard, when life, or death overwhelm. I usually start by envisioning God encircling me with His love and protection. 

"Circle (name), Lord.
Keep (comfort) near
and (discouragement) afar.
Keep (peace) within
and (turmoil) out. Amen."

- from Celtic Daily Prayer

I was introduced to this kind of prayer in the book, Celtic Daily Prayer. It is a collection of Prayers and Readings from the Northumbria Community, and has been an encouraging reference for me.  It has such a simple format and is adaptable to anyone and any need, by filling in the parenthesis with appropriate words and names.

As I meditated and prayed, feeling more peaceful, I doodled a mandala beginning with tracing around the center circle of a CD. I used a CD for a pattern for the inside pages of this journal.

"The compassing of God be upon you,
the compassing of God, of the God of life.

The compassing of Christ be upon you,
the compassing of the Christ of love.

The compassing of the Spirit be upon you,
the compassing of the Spirit of grace.

The compassing of the Sacred Three be upon you,
the compassing of the Sacred Three protect you,
the compassing of the Sacred Three preserve you.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Journaling on Fire - The Rest of the Journal

Here's the rest of the Fire Journal:

"Fiery Spirit, source of all creative power,
kindle your Holy Spark within me,
Breathe into me your Sacred Passion,
Fill me with your Flame until I have become fire,
Offering warmth and light to the world."
- Christine Valters Paintner

"The whole world is charged with the glory of God,
and I fee fire and music under my feet."
- Thomas Merton

"Life is not the wick or the candle -
it is the burning."

"Holy Spirit,
Living Flame,
ignite my heart with Your passion -
burning brightly-
flowing freely -
in and through my spirit,
out into the world - 
ablaze with the 
fire of Your Love."
-Valerie Sjodin

Recommended reading for this type of journaling:
 Water, Wind, Earth & Fire, The Christian Practice of Praying with the Elements 
by Christine Valters Paintner
You can check out Christine's website and books at: http://abbeyofthearts.com/

The Holy Bible
"It is You who light my lamp, the LORD, my God, lights up my darkness."
- Psalm 18:28