An Artful Journey: Day 4, When Magic Happened

Day 4 was the day it all came together. I finished all the collage and stamp work on the tissue and molding paste pages the night before, and then on Sunday decided I’d make some smaller pages with lightly painted duck cloth to go in between. DJ put beautiful fabric and lace mixed in with her book, but since I went in a completely different, kinda funky, direction, I thought the duck cloth would be more fitting for mine. We brought the duck cloth to make our covers with, so I had a little to spare (and then borrowed a little more from Leah!).

While my duck cloth pages were drying, I got to work at the sewing machine. Thank you to the four wonderful ladies who brought their sewing machines to share! Funny how this happened, really. I hadn’t really thought much about adding stitching to my pages, but once I put down the first row of stitches, I was hooked, and nearly every page ended up with some sort of stitching embellishment on it, including my name badge! I learned how to sew in high school and have always played around with various sewing projects, from pillows to funky purses, even a few cute skirts (yet I could never master zippers), but I’ve never sewn on paper before! What fun!

I had fun with the eyelash yarn, sewing around it to tack it down in various places. And I sewed on playing cards that I found at the reNEWables table (Cindy’s fab idea of how to recycle your un-needed stash for others), as well as a fortune-telling card Davi gave me, some tags I made, postcards I pulled from my vintage postcard stash, and all sorts of other goodies. And that little bit of awesomeness on the side of this page was from a great collage pack DJ and Cindy put together.

After dinner, we had show and tell. Each class brought their work to the big assembly hall and had several tables on which to display their work. Here’s Davi with her Chunky Funky Coffee Table book she made in Kelly Rae and Mati Rose’s class.

And here’s one of Ann’s pages from her book, same class.

And here are some of the awesome papers made in Albie’s class. I REALLY want to take one of Albie’s classes sometime too. See those colors? Kelly colors, aren’t they?! Albie also incorporated bookmaking into her class, turning those luscious papers in book covers.

Before the show and tell broke, each of the instructors addressed the full group and talked about her class. It was so wonderful. There were tears, there were giggles, there were belly laughs, and there were tons of hugs and shared inspiration as we all reveled in what we had accomplished through the help of these wonderful teachers.

Following the show and tell, Leah and I and few others went back to the classroom for one last jam session on our books. Robin-Marie had just recently purchased this fun new camera which took mini Polariods. Pretty neat huh? You can see that the tables behind me had already been vacated, but I was determined to finish and told DJ as much.

After a while, it was down to just Leah and me. When DJ popped in to check on us, she saw that I was getting close to done and went up to her room to get her camera. When she came back down, the three of us finished my book together. It truly was a magical moment, and I have tears in my eyes as I write this. I have never felt so much support and so much caring around me being able to accomplish something. Truly, I had no idea that I could do something like this, and DJ helped me see that I was capable of so much more than I ever realized I was. It was after 11pm by this point and from the quietness around us, I’m pretty sure the three of us were the only ones left in any of the classrooms. It had been a very long, very exhausting, but amazingly inspirational four days.

And that’s when DJ said we had to dance on the tables! So dance we did! At 11:30pm Sunday night, Leah and I climbed up on the tables and danced with my finished book while DJ laughed and took pictures. It’s a moment I’ll never forget, and I am forever grateful to Leah and DJ for sharing it with me.

You’d think that was it for the night, right? Oh no, sweet friend. After DJ headed to bed and Leah and I packed everything up, we started walking back to our cottage. It was near midnight by then, and it was cold and misty with fog coming in. We were quietly talking about our adventure when Leah stopped and grabbed my shoulder. Then she pointed, and there I saw them: nearly 10 deer watching us from just yards away in the mist. They looked like deer angels, really, all shrouded in mist and fog. They just stood quietly; we just stood quietly, neither wanting to move and break the moment. Finally, one of them turned and started walking away, so as they moved on, so did we, quietly awestruck. Awestruck from everything we had just experienced…the art making, the friendship making, the memory making, all wrapped in one final, magical night. This day truly changed my life, though I didn’t realize how much until I got home and really started processing everything that I’d experienced. Just like magic.

An Artful Journey: Day 3, With a Little Luck

After a dreary day Friday, we got a little sunshine on Saturday. I shared lots of flower pictures with you on Day 1, but each day I was more amazed at the landscape around the center. Those mountains are just magical. Even in sunny Florida, my flowers had all died, but look at this little beauty. They seem to have really temperate weather here in this area. Seems like the perfect climate!
Day 3 was a turning point for me. Thankfully, this little four leaf clover appeared in my hand because I really needed it! In the morning, DJ demonstrated her photo painting technique. She made it look so easy, but I still had that nagging fear that I was not going to be able to do it. I’m just not comfortable with a paint brush for some reason. I prefer to move paint around with my fingers! I started working on one and then another and just wasn’t happy with either one. I talked with DJ about it, and she encouraged me and just suggested that I work on the rest of my pages in the meantime and she’d help me with my painting first thing Sunday morning. The painting was to be the cover of our book.
After lunch that four leaf clover popped up, and I had a light bulb moment. No, I wasn’t really comfortable with a paint brush, but I loved my water soluble crayons and pencils! I thought about that and went in a totally different direction. Away went the detail paint brushes and out came the crayons! I was so glad I brought them! The focus was this page is actually a photograph that I altered. It’s a Boca Grande sunset that I took my water soluble crayons to! I added a little bit of molding paste around it (love that stuff!) to blend it in and scribbled in it some for kicks. From that point, I really took off and everything started coming together, so much so that I didn’t want to stop! I was a woman on a mission! Thankfully, so was Leah, and the two of us stayed up working on our books until 12:30am! I think we were punch drunk by the end of the night, but we had such a great time together. I finished all the collage and stamp work on my tissue paper pages and my molding paste pages Saturday night.
This page has several bits of significance worked in. The background is one of my molding paste collage pages, and I just really didn’t care for it. Leah took a look at it and give me a couple ideas that we then worked through together. The red strip was her idea and it really lit up the page. The fabric here is also meaningful. One the new friends I made there is Ann. After dinner on Saturday, Ann, Davi, Dorothy and I walked around to each other’s classes and shared our work. It was so fun to see what everyone else was doing! Ann gave me that scrap of fabric and asked me to include it in my book. Leah and I had the same light bulb go off at the same moment to sew it in and make pockets. I still need to do something with those tags in the pockets, and I’m planning to do something in honor of Ann and Leah on them.
This page is also special. The “Life Unscripted” tag on the bottom is from Davielle Huffman, my apron swap pal. She signed it on the back. As I mentioned yesterday, I also have some rickrack in my book from Davi and a cool card as well. I just adore her. We hooked up prior to the retreat on Facebook and really clicked. She is so sweet and I really wanted to include a couple pieces of her in my book! The paper collage strips were done with some of Albie’s papers I bought at vendor night.
And last for today, here’s another of my molding paste pages. I just love the colors on this one. I use aqua and brown combos in my jewelry designs a lot as well and love them together. This page is definitely perfect for some journaling!

Stay tuned for tomorrow! Day 4 is dancing on the tables day!

An Artful Journey: Day 2, Artful Abundance!

Day 2 of the trip was Day 1 of the class. DJ is such an incredible teacher and shared so many different techniques. She’s middle left here in the yellow vest. I learned so much, it truly was overwhelming at times! We started out painting tissue paper with a mixture of acrylic paint and watered down matte medium. It was here I learned that matte medium and gel medium (in all its various forms) are not the same thing! There are so many ‘mediums’ that it was hard to keep up at times!

Above is a picture of some of my painted tissue papers. DJ showed us how to cut up smaller pieces of tissue paper, strips of telephone book pages (which she brought from her home in Oregon) and even pieces of string and other small items and then sandwich them between two sheets of tissue paper. It was pretty cool.

Here’s another shot of them. Sorry the light was less than ideal here, but I think you can see the string sandwiched in there. I tried to make the shape of a flower out of the string.

Here’s a shot of some of my classmates' papers drying. It was so interesting that many of our papers started out bright and colorful, but most of them ended up much more muted (um, except mine…muted is apparently not in my vocabulary).

Once the painted tissue papers were completely dry, we glued them to plain muslin with more matte medium. You can see the tissue paper here on this finished page of my book. I included little cut up pieces of DJ’s phone book on this page. :-) I did five tissue muslin pages in total.The fun green rick rack on this page came from my wonderful friend, Davi. Davi made my apron! I will share some pictures of that with you soon! It's totally fantabulous!

Next we took more muslin and covered it in molding paste. I’ve never even heard of molding paste, but it was fun to play with! It has a thick, creamy consistency and dried white on the fabric, and you could manipulate it for some good texture on the fabric. Then we painted color washes over the dried molding paste muslin pages. This picture is a finished molding paste page in my book. See that cute little tab? There are three of them in my book, and they are one of my favorite things! DJ brought us the feathers from her friend’s bird, and I backed my feathers with sheet music to carry through the music theme of my book. I did four molding paste muslin pages, and I think I’ll do some journaling on them.

Friday afternoon between class and dinner, I was back in my cottage when I looked out the window and, boom!, there were three deer right there! I took this shot from the window. I immediately called the girls to tell them about it and quickly remembered the time change. It was only 2:30 at home, so I rambled on excitedly on the answering machine until it ran out!

I went outside to try to catch a closer shot, but this gal was the only one who stood her ground for me for at least a few minutes before walking off down the trail. After that, I saw dozens more deer over the rest of the weekend.

Friday was also the day a nasty cold hit me full force. I ran into Los Gatos after dinner to find a CVS for some cold meds, and then stumbled across the most wonderful family owned toy store and loaded up on goodies for the girls before I headed back to the center for vendor night. I had told myself I was going to be a good girl at vendor night, but alas, that simply wasn’t possible. There was so much good stuff! I bought some beautiful ribbon and a few collage pages from a local shop, some gorgeous handmade papers from Albie Smith, some prints from DJ, and a CD full of gorgeous bird images from Lesley Riley. Albie and Lesley were also teaching at the retreat. I used the ribbon, some of Albie’s papers and two of DJ’s prints in my finished book. The page above is an example! This is one of DJ’s painted photograph pieces. She took the photo in Hawaii and then painted into it. We learned that technique on Day 3.
Friday was also the day the bonding started happening. To me, this was just as enjoyable as learning new art techniques. My cottage mates were Gwynne, Donna, Denise, Leah and Beth. Beth traveled all the way from England! After her weekend full of inspiration, she went home and started her blog. I had the honor being her first follower! Gwynne, Donna, Denise and Leah are all from California, and Leah ended up becoming my best bud at the retreat; I love you, Leah! She was in DJ’s class as well, so we had a LOT of time together (just wait until I tell you about Saturday and Sunday). Gwynne was in Nina’s class, Donna was in Lesley’s class, Denise was in Albie’s class, and Beth was in Kelly Rae and Mati Rose’s class, so between our little cottage, we represented the entire retreat! Everyone was so wonderful. We all made jokes about our spaceship tube shower. There’s really no other way to describe it. It was like a Star Trek tele-porter tube or something, but with nice hot water! I also finally got to meet Roben-Marie and Chrissy in person. They are fabulous! Roben-Marie is such an inspiration, and I just fell in love with Chrissy and her infectious spirit. Roben-Marie was in my class, but I didn't get to spend near enough time with Chrissy. Hopefully, we'll meet again! Day 3 tomorrow!

An Artful Journey: Day 1, The Adventure Begins

I’ve been trying to figure out how to share this whole experience with you. It was just all such a mind-boggingly, life-changingly awesome five days! :-) (and that from a college English professor…) So I’ll share each day with you as it happened, with lots and lots of pictures.

One week ago today, DH and the girls drove me to the airport at 6:15am. Jacksonville to Las Vegas to San Jose. Can you see me in the reflection in the glass in this picture? Just above the front third of the Southwest plane in the distance? Yeah, that’s me. The long flight to Vegas (5 hours, 20 minutes) was made much more bearable with my seatmates. To my right was Ed, a very friendly plastics salesman heading to a conference in Las Vegas. His company makes the plastic cards that 90% of all credit cards are made from! To my left was Michael, an engineer/rocket scientist on his way back from NASA after installing the rocket boosters that recently launched Pluto Five. No joke! I was sitting next to a genuine rocket scientist! Ed and I were totally enthralled. Mike told us how the rocket boosters work and how, since the Pluto payload was such a small one, those five boosters shot that thing up into space faster than any shuttle launch ever seen. “Where is it now?” I asked? “Heck, I don’t know! Somewhere between here and Pluto. There’s a whole other group of engineers and scientists who determine when to launch so the payload will reach its proper destination,” he replied. “And when will it reach its destination?” “Oh, in approximately eight years.” Eight years!? Can you imagine the science it takes to determine when to launch something that will not arrive at its destination until eight years later? Now, here’s the kicker. In his free time, Michael is an actor in Wild West reenactments. Didn’t see that one coming, did ya? He’s the president of his troupe, Sierra Six Guns and Sidekicks. So after he enthralled Ed and me with his tales of space exploration, he continued to enthrall us with his tales of Virgil, Wyatt, and all the other Earp brothers. He plays Virgil. He’s excellent at falling during gunfights. And I think a little peeved that his actor friend who plays Wyatt never has to fall because, you know, Wyatt was never shot so he never fell. Who knew? DH would have loved it.

So, here you go. Now I can say I’ve finally been to Vegas! Since I barely had time to make my connecting flight, I managed to avoid actually playing the slot machines, but I did have to pull out my camera to take a picture of some of them.

Once I arrived in San Jose, I picked up my rental car and headed towards Los Gatos and the retreat center…and promptly got lost. Got out of San Jose just fine; that was the easy part. From there, I had printed out MapQuest directions but neglected to read the warning on the retreat center website that said not to follow the MapQuest directions. I ended up on a continually narrowing winding road on a neighboring mountain. When I realized I must be lost, I called DH (thank God for that time difference at this point) and he pulled up the website, found the better map and stayed on the phone with me until I found the right place…on the mountain next door. (Yes, Katie, if I had an iPhone I could have pulled up the correct map myself, just like you did when we were trying to find that cupcake place that night in NYC. And yes, Jim, I'm sure I could have pulled it up on my Blackberry…if I only knew how to use it.)

Once I actually made it to the center, called Presentation Center, this is what greeted me. Beautiful, huh?

And then once I checked in, I received this. Isn’t that awesome? Every attendee received one. More than 100 of us. Talk about a lot of work! Our welcome, agenda for the weekend, and all relevant instructions were attached at the back with the ribbon. Just the start of the amazing job and special little touches that Cindy (retreat coordinator) pulled off. Just lovely.

Here’s a shot of the inside of the welcome bundle.

After I checked in, I had some time to wander the property. Here’s an example of some of the cottages.

I will admit my cottage itself, St. Martha’s, was not that photo worthy, but the surroundings sure were. These daffodils were right outside my cottage door.

…as was this little marked grave of Our Friend Muffy. I’ll have a story sparked by Muffy for you next week.

These pretty little red flowers covered a nearby tree. No clue what kind of tree. It was a California tree. I don’t think we have this particular California tree in Florida. :-)

This daisy was part of a cluster just around the corner from my cottage. Can you picture me laying on the ground shooting up to catch this angle?

This is St. Francis, the watchful saint of the retreat center. I imagine he was quite the handsome fellow in his day. Am I allowed to say that about a saint?

And lastly, to close out the first day’s entry, I’ll share a couple more sneak peeks of my finished book. Back cover….

And two inside pages… Of course I can’t show you the entire book until Sunday night…the night I finished and DJ, Leah, and I danced on the tables (oh wait, it’s still Thursday…we’re not dancing on tables yet, forget I said that….)

An Artful Journey Sneak Peek

As my girls would say…O!...M!...G! I’m exhausted, but I'm also exhilarated, enlivened, encouraged, energized, invigorated, rejuvenated, renewed and inspired beyond measure. I can honestly say An Artful Journal was one of the most awesome experiences I’ve had in my 44 years. Totally, fantabulously, freakin’ amazing. I’m still processing the whole experience, so here’s just a little sneak peek of what I accomplished. I’ll give you a day-by-day breakdown with tons of pictures starting Thursday!

Taking a Big Artful Journey Leap

At 6am tomorrow morning, I’ll be on my way to the airport to fly to California for An Artful Journey and DJ's class. Is it okay to admit I’m as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rockers? Well, I am. Several reasons, I guess. There’s the obvious: I’ve never been away from my girls for five full days. And having just been gone three days for our state conference, that Mama guilt is hitting me. Then there’s the whole idea of getting on a plane by myself and flying across the country to spend four days with more than 100 women I’ve never met! That’s daunting and exciting at the same time! I’ve flown alone before so that’s not really the issue, although this is the first time I’ve flown anywhere for fun by myself since the girls were born. All that aside, I think the biggie for me is the class itself. I’m seriously pushing myself here. The more I look at what I’ll be learning, the more I think “Whoa! Hope I’m not in over my head!” So I’ve been reminding myself daily (okay, hourly…okay, maybe every three or four minutes) that above all else, I’ll have a great time and learn something new and I WILL NOT allow myself to compare my skills the those whom I know have much more advanced skills than I do (yes, I’ve checked out their blogs… :-). In honor of this trip, I created this page in my art journal Sunday night. So, my friends, here goes my big leap. I have one suitcase full of art supplies, one suitcase full of clothes, and my camera in my backpack! Wish me luck! Back Tuesday!

Surrender to Art and Dreams

Carmen’s been working on some dream book page samples for Art and Dreams Bound 2010. Isn’t this gorgeous!? I hope you’ll consider joining us in May! We are both surrendering to our dreams! Read more about the retreat here. And please help us spread the word by grabbing our button over there in the right column and adding it to your blog. Let me know if you do and I’ll add you to our Art and Dreams Cheerleaders list!

Away for a Bit...

I have a crazy couple of weeks ahead, so I'll probably be away for a bit. I'm heading down to St. Petersburg with my students first thing tomorrow morning for our state Student Goverment Conference, then home for two days before I leave again for An Artful Journey for five days. You know your life is crazy when you actually have to take time off work and go out of town to get some art time. :-) In the meantime, why not revisit some of my favorite posts? I hope you have a wonderful Valentine's Day, however you choose to spend it.

Tuesday Treasury Shout Out: Aquarian Bath

2-1-10 happyshack

Thanks so much to Cory of aquarianbath for including me in the awesomely gorgeous treasury! Cory featured all Florida Etsy Street Team members! One of my Melange glass tile pendant is top row right. See all my glass tile pendants here.

Angel on the Metro Revisited

I may have shared this picture with you before, but I thought it was appropriate for today's post. I took it down in Boca Grande in June of 2008, and I’ve always seen an angel’s halo in it. Do you see it?

I received the most interesting and wonderful comment over the weekend. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you may remember my “Angel on the Metro” post. It’s definitely one of my favorites. If you’ve never read it, go take a peek. If you have read it, read it again! It’s a wonderful story! :-) The comment I received was on that post (which is over a year old), and it read:

Kelly ~ I met Franklin Fung Chow yesterday - in San Francisco's Chinatown. We only shared a brief 'how are you and where are you from?' conversation before he took off in the opposite direction from where I (with a small group of people) were heading. It seems that Franklin Fung Chow is a friend of one of my friends, Leland Wong. A few of us were having lunch and spending some time with Leland yesterday, and he introduced us to several people, including Franklin Fung Chow. Franklin also gave me a calling card - the same one he gave to you that day. I didn't see gossamer wings under his jacket, but I did see the kind twinkle in his eyes. When I got home, I decided to 'Google' his name and came upon your blog. Thanks so much for sharing the story of your encounter. It just goes to show how special even the briefest encounters with 'strangers' can be, if your mind and heart are open to any kindnesses they have to offer.

Now how cool is that? I still think of Franklin often, and I still carry around those two special little envelopes in that little pouch in my purse. We’ve exchanged a few emails and he’s snail mailed me his “Chow Lines” newsletter a couple times. It truly is wonderful what angels you can come across if your mind and heart are open to them.

Time for February Free Bling! picked number 22 out of 56 entries for January’s Free Bling winner, so congrats to Jennifer from Ontario, Canada! February’s entry is an 8 x 10 print of my “Florida Flurries” photograph. I took this photo in the 100 Acre Wood and added some textural interest to it. To be eligible to win, simply visit either of my Etsy shops (here for jewelry and here for photography) and leave a comment in the comment box below with the link to your favorite piece along with a way to reach you and where you are from. Or email me with the subject line FREE BLING and let me know what your favorite piece is and include where you're from by midnight Thursday, March 4, 2010. Want two entries? Tweet, blog or Facebook this giveaway and leave a second comment with the link. The next winner will be drawn via Friday, March 5, 2010. Don't want to miss a single Free Bling Friday? Click here to sign up for free weekly email reminders or subscribe in the reader of your choice in the right column over there. Be sure to join my Facebook Fan page over there in the left column for Fan specials!

I Finally Cracked the Code

I think I finally cracked the art journaling secret code! I’ve been struggling so much with this. Part of my struggle is that I'm a writer...and when I get started I tend to really get going, and I just didn't see how I could do that in an art journal. But including just a few words here felt just fine this time. The other part of my struggle lies in a bit perfectionism. This is far from perfect. But I'm okay with that! I had a bit of a crappy day on Monday. I was grouchy when I got home, and after feeding the girls dinner and giving them a bath, I snuck downstairs for a little quiet escape time and did these pages. I just played. I even broke down and played in the really pretty journal I’d been hanging onto waiting for the right inspiration to strike. Well, it wasn’t inspiration; it was frustration that ultimately cracked the spine and slapped the paint on there, but it worked! After an hour of playing, most of my frustration was gone and I went upstairs, hugged my babies, tucked them in and kissed them goodnight, and then chilled with DH for our Monday night ritual: Antiques Roadshow. Yes, there I said it: I’m an Antiques Roadshow geek. I definitely think I’ll be doing more of this. :-)