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I am still standing – Things I am grateful for

My apologies for this lengthy and intense post but today I am struggling.  This is something that is very hard for me to write, hell it is hard enough for me to say it, let alone write it.  In print, for all to see and forever look back on.  I am the strong one, the one people can lean on when they need to talk, vent or cry.  That is my thing, forever a part of who I am and part of what drives me.  Lately, not so much.  I feel as though I have come a little undone.

I have gone back and forth about writing about the details of my ordeal that happened a couple months ago, even if just to get it off my chest and hopefully start to lay it to rest.  I just haven’t figured out where and how to begin.  You see, I am not an eloquent writer and have no witty and entertaining way to write about what happened to me, to us.  So, I guess I shall just share it, as I did with my friends.  Break the silence so to speak as today, May 5, is officially I AM STILL STANDING DAY after losing a child or infertility.

Both of my pregnancies resulted in emergency C-sections due to pre-eclampsia.  So, Chris and I took some time to decide to have another, an entire year to be precise.  We both love kids and would likely have had many more if it wasn’t for my darn body and pregnancy issues.  We had pretty much decided we were having another but hadn’t officially pulled the trigger yet (tee, hee).  We were on our way to our annual snowboarding trip to Vermont (for our anniversary) and I received a text from one of my best friends that was a little suspect.  After a little prodding I managed to get it out of her that she was pregnant.  I was SO excited for her!  We had talked about how amazing it would be to be pregnant together.  That was the green light for me.  I knew we were getting pregnant that weekend.  So much so, that I bought an antique letter press #6 while we were there at my favourite antique store.  Chris and I, our three girls plus baby = 6.  It would go in the nursery.  I remember thinking while buying it that maybe we would have a boy and Chris will finally have more testosterone in the house and someone to complain to about how much toilet paper we go through every week, haha.

I am still standing

I was right.  Fast forward to 8 weeks later, I am crawling around on the floor in horrible pain.  Chris insists we go to the hospital as I am pregnant and he says “you just never know”.  Not wanting to put anyone out or traumatize the sleeping kids, I tried to change his mind.  Didn’t work, thankfully, as I found out later had I stayed at home, I likely would have died.  Can you imagine hearing that come out of a doctor’s mouth?  I found out that night that I potentially had an ectopic pregnancy.  I am not going to bore you with all of the details but doctors and specialists went back and forth all night as to what the next course of action would be while I lay there in disbelief and wanted them to be damn sure that was what was going on before they did anything that might harm the baby.    The morning ended with two doctors, a nurse and Chris running to the OR with me on a bed, writhing in pain watching the lights and ceiling tiles quickly streaming past.  I felt like I was in a movie and it wasn’t really happening to me.  I had a ruptured ectopic pregnancy which resulted in a blood transfusion, my fallopian tube and a bit of my uterus being removed.  Our baby was gone and so were the hopes of another.

I read once while trying to find others that have gone through the same thing as me that “grief has a way of getting all up in your business” especially when you least expect it.  I wish I remembered where I read it so I could give her credit and return to read more of her wise words.  I just remember reading it and thinking how true that was.  At that moment and now.  Just when I thought I was doing fine and making strides with moving past it, today, grief has gotten all up my business.  The loss of what was and could have been.  People keep saying, you have three beautiful healthy girls you should be happy. I agree, I am totally grateful and always will be, but at the same time, I realize what I am missing out on.  What WE are missing out on.  It is tough.  Most days are good and I realize how precious life is and am grateful for the reminder of what is truly important in life.  Today it is tough.  I fear this has opened a part of me that I can’t ever close.  A me that will occasionally burst into tears at seeing a women who is as pregnant as I would be right now, a me that is so emotional and can cry at the drop of a hat, a me that has been a little impatient, when patience has always been one of my qualities I have been most proud of.

The rational side of me knows better.  I just need to get over the trauma of it all.  As I am grateful for my girls, I am also grateful to Chris and my friends for being so supportive even though they might not get what all the fuss is about.  I am also grateful for my art as it truly does help heal.

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Monday Journal – Vintage Mixed Media

The beginnings of my vintage mixed media art journal layout…

I went to the grocery store the other day to find some veg to go with our dinner and was super excited to find local beets for sale.  I grabbed a bag and threw them in my cart.  When I was home and slicing them up (to toss in olive oil and spices then grill in the oven), my hands of course became bright red from the juice.  I immediately thought, hey I could use this as a stain.  So, off I went to pull out my art journal.  Dinner would just have to wait a moment, haha.  I immediately opened it up to the page I was building on and rubbed the beet ends all over which gave it a redish purple stain effect that I quite liked.

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This helped me decide to use red and blue for these pages, I already knew I wanted it to be an ode to vintage.  I then slapped on the paint quite thickly in random spots and then pressed punchinella into it to create texture and pattern.

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I love the pattern it created on my hand.  Nothing like getting messy = happiness.

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I wanted to keep this one fairly simple, all I did after was cover it with vintage images and rub-ons.

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The girl with the umbrella is one of my favourites from the Graphics Fairy and so is the bike.  The cute little chair was a Micheals rub-on.

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I usually outline everything in black but because the background was fairly dark I decided to outline everything in white.  I used a Stabilo coloured marking pencil (they write on anything).  Here is the image once I outlined it.  Not a huge difference, but I like it better.  I am a details person :)

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I added an image of an old clock I pulled from a vintage photography book.

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On the insert I used the punchinella as a stencil.  Then more rub-ons and a title “the Good Stuff” because the old stuff really is the good stuff.

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Birthday Workshop – Community Mixed Media

Last weekend I had the pleasure of teaching at Marie-Pierre’s (MP) 30th birthday party.  She was very involved in the planning of the piece which I LOVED.  That way I knew she was going to get something she liked.  Sometimes it is hard trying to decide on a piece when you don’t know a person very well.  I could tell that her relationships were important to her so I did a community mixed media piece.

Here is everyone jumping right in.

Community Mixed Media

 I was pretty excited and surprised to find out that half of the guests were guys.  That has never happened.  I am lucky if there is one male and he is usually a brother or a spouse who has been forced into it, haha.  Not with this crowd.  This was a very creative crew who didn’t need to be coerced at all.

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So very focused and precise, awesome!!

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The guest of honour…

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and her piece.

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MP and her sisters.  They were all so sweet and supportive of each other, it was adorable.  (Made me wish I had a sister :)

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Here is Sean (Mr. Ravenswing himself), hard at work, or play I should say.

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He was the first one done.  Here is his gorgeous piece.

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Everyone was so thoughtful in creating their canvases.  Here is another quote on Bruno’s (MP’s spouse) piece.

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The photogenic couple.

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Here is what it looked like on their couch before I took it home for the finishing touches.

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Here is what it looks like now after I outlined everything and tied it all together.

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It is so great because you can see the personalities behind each one.  The bottom is the birthday girl’s and the top is her sister Christine’s crazy haired girl.

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The bottom right corner of this one is Alice in Wonderland themed.  All of the people have roots for feet to represent MP establishing roots as an adult.

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Such a great bunch, they were staying and continuing the party with some drinks, yummy food and karaoke.  So fun!!

Upstairs Antiques, a must stop

Hello all, happy hump day!!!  The sun was shining today, made me want to head to a patio and have a couple drinks.  I remembered I hadn’t shared my little visit to Upstairs Antiques while I was in Vermont.  I make it a point to always stop as there are always some good deals to be had.  It is also two seconds away from my other favourite antique place.

This was a little school desk that greeted us upon our arrival.

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The welcoming flag flying in the wind.  Check out the chair hanging from it.

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I really wanted to take this garden bench home for our front porch so I could load it up with pillows and sit on it in the mornings to have my first cup of coffee (and second, third…).

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Quirky collection of framed photos.

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This to-die for map cabinet is worth going back for I think.  Hopefully it is still there in May and I can convince Chris that we need to take it home.  It looks a little lonely don’t you think?  Needs a good home :)

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I was thinking this cool anchor could be turned into some industrial looking chandelier.  I wish I could weld or something, haha.

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This elegant looking Queen Anne style couch was totally adorable.

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Definitely worth a stop if you are in the area.  A lot of stuff you might not have any idea what it is, but there is always something you have to take home.  I left with an old axe, steel iron and some vintage photos.  I will likely share my goodies once everything is entirely unpacked.

Vermont Art Show

Last Friday I travelled to my Vermont art show with my girls.  First international show, I was pretty excited.  It was at the Vintage Inspired Lifestyle Marketplace.  The shop and second home of Mary Heinrich Aloi.  I just wanted to share a few photos of the wonderful night (courtesy of my friend Steph over at Share The Love)

My girls waiting to be hung up on the wall.

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The first Friday of every month Burlington has an art walk throughout the city.  Then even put out a guide for people to find all the participating venues, which I was in, so cool!!

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Getting ready for the big night.

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All hung up and ready to go.

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Everyone was so friendly and some were down right hilarious.  I laughed so much my stomach hurt.

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Posing with my paintings.  Check out my new blue specs, aren’t they awesome? haha!

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It was such a treat to meet Lisa Marie in person as we only ever chatted online.  She was the sweetest thing.  We decided we were mixed media sisters.

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YUP cakes was even there serving up some baked goodness.  I couldn’t resist trying the peanut butter & jelly flavoured one (her hubby swore by them).  It was to die for and I am dreaming of the day I can have one again.

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One of my gorgeous girls Angie who accompanied me on the trip.

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A couple of other hotties, Brittany and Steph (my photographer for the evening) who also came on the road trip to support me.  I am a lucky girl to have such great friends and a man who all made this possible.

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Thanks for such an amazing night Mary and for the yummy cheese and wine!  I just realized I didn’t get a picture of her the night of, sucky :(

I will post more soon on all the amazing antiques we found.

Monday Journal – Tissue Paper Technique

 I just got back from an amazing girls weekend in Vermont last night (will write more on that later).  But first, it’s Monday Journal time and I just wanted to share a page I finished today (my last day before having to head back to work tomorrow)  I did a little tissue paper technique to add some texture and colour to this one.  When I was working on some Easter eggs a couple weeks ago I had pieces of tissue paper lying around, so not wanting anything to go to waste, I stuck them immediately into my art journal.  I always try to keep it around when I am working on other projects to add any leftover pieces or paint to it.

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So when I was ready to get my art on, I already had a page started which gave me a jumping off point with the colours.  I added some pretty flowers and pink doilies to it.  I also applied my awesome Crafter’s Workshop Life Numbers stencil with black paint I had purchased at Scrapbook Centrale when I was there for Donna’s class.

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 I have been thinking about family and how I grew up lately.  Things weren’t always perfect as I am sure no one else’s upbringing was either.  I feel it is always  important to “bloom where you are planted”.  Which is the theme of this layout.  I think that it is an important thing to remember in many aspects of our lives (not just with our families).

For the word “bloom” I used some fairly big (and thick) letter stickers and covered them in glass bead gel.

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I then removed them before the gel dried too much as all I wanted was the impression it left behindl.  I love that you can see the flower image and colourful tissue underneath.

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Instead of throwing them out, I quickly stuck the removed letters on the flap of the insert.

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For the rest of the quote I used the same letters and dirtied them up a little by rubbing some Inka-Gold in the Harmatite colour.  I also rubbed some of it on various parts of the pages. Such fun stuff!  It’s non-toxic, has no smell and is made with beeswax.  Over the tree stencil is a fairly big rub-on I found in a discount bin for a whole dollar (such a steal!)

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 Have a great week everyone and don’t forget to bloom lovelies, no matter where you are planted.

 

Category: Art Journal  One Comment

Burlington Art Walk, Vermont, this Friday!!

Man, does time ever fly by.  This Friday, like two sleeps from now I will be heading to Vermont with a few of my girls for the weekend and the Burlington Art Walk.  It will be my first international art show and it is at the amazing Vintage Inspired Lifestyle Marketplace.  I had done a post a little while back about discovering it and meeting the lovely Mary, who is the owner.  I am pretty excited!!

Burlington Art Walk1My family was supposed to be coming with me and we were going to make it a mini vacation but things came up and it has turned into a girls weekend. I am a little sad the fam won’t be with me but getting to hang out with my girls should be a blast.  Everything just kind of came together at the last minute and I was lucky a few were able to come.

Anyway, I just wanted to share a couple more completed Goddess girls.  The first is a steampunk themed one called “The Adventurer”  I started with a Graphic 45 tissue paper which I layered orange paint over.  I then covered it with some Tim Holtx masks and some chipboard gears which I made with my Cuttle Bug and a Tim Holtz die, which I then applied white paint to.

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Once I was done using the gears as masks, I painted them black and used them in the piece as part of her dress and in the balloon. Here she is with her little corset dress and short bangs.

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I really grunged up some flowers with black sprays and ink for her dress.  I also used more gears from the Tim Holtz Idea-ology collection.

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An old tag and domino from my collection just finished off the corner of the piece.

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And the quote…

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The second piece started with Christy Tomlinson tissue paper.  Love her stuff and her, as a matter of fact.

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Added some pink doilies, blue chevrons and a couple other elements with stencils and off I went.  This one came together in one sitting.  Love those days when the creativity just flows.

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Here she is finished, I called it “Sweetness”.

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Brings me back to the sweetness of youth, with the wind blowing in my hair and not a care in the world.

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Looking forward to showing my girls around Burlington and Stowe.  If any of you are in the area, please drop by and say hi, I would love to see you!!

Category: Mixed Media  Tags:  4 Comments

Scrappy Sunday – Donna Downey Class

Happy Easter everyone!!!!  Last weekend I was lucky enough to be able to attend a Donna Downey class at Scrapbook Centrale in Montreal.  I was beyond thrilled.  I love going to Montreal for any reason but to be taking a class from Donna while there was pretty special.  We packed up the family and made a weekend out of it.  We even got to visit my cousin and her family.

We made a gorgeous little mixed media scrapbook album.  Here is the charismatic Donna in action.

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The album was filled with linen, burlap and book pages.  Three of my favourite things.  I brought pictures of our last anniversary snowboarding trip to Stowe, Vermont.  I printed them all in black and white on plain paper so I could wrinkle and distress them.

The framed picture on the cover is of Chris in front of the covered foot bridge in the village.

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The album was filled with Donna’s canvas goodies, some of which are no longer available like the letter titles.

Chris and I strolling around the village trying to take a picture of ourselves.

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The awesome watch piece is a Tim Holtz Pocket Watch.  I loved the feather wings and NEED to get my hands on some more of those.

The picture is of me at the Burton factory being inspired to go snowboarding, haha.

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Before adding all of the goodies we applied gesso to the cardboard pages.  I didn’t apply it evenly because I wanted some of the cardboard to show through which you can see a bit of on this page.  Isn’t that ruffle great under the title?  It is made from cash register tape, that Donna, so creative.

This is a picture of our favourite coffee shop that we head to every morning we are there.

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Donna is all about the masking tape and shipping tags which she calls “brown holes”, haha.  I am not daring enough yet to start using masking tape so when I got home I used washi tape here and there to ground the pictures a bit.

  The pic is of snow falling on the gondola at Stowe Mountain.  It was a beautiful day and trip.

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I never have any problem going to any of the classes by myself as everyone always tends to be pretty friendly.  They usually sit the “singles” at the same table as well so most people are in the same boat as me.  I was seated with a great group of ladies.  Here is one of my table mates Katerine.  She was pretty adorable as this was the first class she had ever taken and it was with Donna Downey, so lucky.  She seemed to enjoy herself and did an amazing job.

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Donna kept everyone laughing and thoroughly entertained.  Here she is helping another person at my table who was also from Ottawa.

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I forgot scissors so my lovely neighbor Nancy loaned me a pair.  Thanks lady!!

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Here are some more Ottawa ladies.  You might recognize the one on the left.  It is Stephanie Pouliot who used to teach at the Scrapbox.

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It was such a pleasure to meet Donna and her husband Bill.  I realized after I left that I hadn’t gotten a picture of him :(  True salt of the earth people.

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If you ever get a chance to take a Donna Downey class I highly recommend it.  You won’t be disappointed.

Hope you are having a great long weekend!  Don’t forget to get some creative time in to nourish your soul!

DIY Easter Eggs – Just in time for Easter

I’m sure everyone is looking forward to the amazingly long weekend ahead (for those that get both Friday and Monday off).  No getting up early or making lunches, woooo!!  These DIY Easter eggs are a great little holiday project to do with your kids or by yourself.  I picked up some foam eggs from the dollar store. All they had were the small ones but I wasn’t fussy.

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I grabbed some tissue paper that I had in my stash and ripped it into smaller pieces…

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I then applied a layer of acrylic medium (you can use Modge Podge or Decoupage, whatever you have) then put the tissue paper over the eggs and another layer of medium over top to seal it in.  I wasn’t super careful applying it or anything as I love all the wrinkles and texture it makes.  This is a bit of a messy job and you can’t over handle them because the tissue will start to stick to your fingers.

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Once they were thoroughly dry, I applied Titan Buff (which is an off white colour) with a bit of water (to make it more translucent) to all of the eggs.  For this guy I had started with an old dress pattern, then the paint, then blue ink and finished it off with a stamp from Tim Holtz’s line Stamper’s Anonymous.  I used this Little Labels set for all the eggs because the print size was appropriate for these little eggs.

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This one already had plenty of colour so I just added a bit of paint and some black text.  Don’t you just love polka dots??

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This one started with the cream swirly paper which was a bit dull so I added some yellow India Ink to it and the pointing finger from Tim’s line.  The circle stamp was from my basket of background stamps so I’m not sure where I got it.

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This one just had plain pink paper so I added a bit more paint to it then the others to tone it down a little and the black text.

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Here they are together in a vase with some raffia.  I will put a couple of these on my Easter dinner table on Sunday to spruce it up a bit.

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An easy and fairly quick (except for the drying time in between stages) project you can get done in time for Easter and they won’t stink up the house if one accidentally rolls under the couch and is forgotten.  Plus, you can keep them for next year!!  I would love to see pics if you try them yourself.

Monday Journal – Community Art Journal Page

This week I wanted to do something to honour the group of amazing ladies I met doing an on-line course through Kelly Rae Roberts.  I thought I would do a community art journal page.  This community of women has been wonderful to each other right from day one.  Being a part of a group of like minded artists with similar business goals was a gift all on its own but the way everyone jumps in to offer unconditional support (especially with the difficult things life throws at us) has been pretty special.  They are all like a warm blanket on a cold day.

With Spring here (or attempting to be here, the sun was out today, YEY!) I thought I would use some brighter colours.  I stretched myself a little and used pinks and yellows which I tend never to gravitate towards.  I grabbed papers from my scrap stash and ripped different shaped houses and then applied them with an artist’s medium.

Community Art Journal Page

I then used my navy sludge to paint the night sky.  Why is it night time in my community?  Not sure, maybe it’s because I tend to catch up with them at night once the kids are in bed, haha.  I applied drops of yellow India ink to represent stars (and the ladies).

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I outlined each of the houses with a watercolour crayon and painted the houses or just the edges to give the paper a more painted effect.  A couple of them it was to add colour as the paper was white.

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I re-emphasized and added texture with the word “community” down one of the houses with some mini alphabet stickers. ( I add medium over any stickers I use when painting, btw).

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 What is a neighbourhood without flowers?  I added some Miss Carolina rub-ons from My Mind’s Eye to add a little greenery and finishing touches.

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Last but not least I took a white china marker, (that will basically write on anything)…

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and wrote out the definition of community as it relates to my ladies.  Here it is finished.

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 Strange as you get older and maybe wiser, you realize the importance of community.  Have any of you found that as well?