Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Suburban Icebergs

The streets are clear, and the grass is back, but we are left with mountains of snow and ice, scraped up by plows. They will be with us for months, and I found their shapes interesting. I like old buildings, and apparently I like old snow, too!
Reading LK Ludwig's blog today, I discovered that Misty Mawn has issued a challenge to do an art journal page a day for the month of January. Since I had just written that as one of my art goals for 2009, I jumped on the bandwagon. Hope on over to Misty's blog and jump on yourself!

So, turn in tomorrow and see my page for the day...Tomorrow will also be my 2nd anniversary of blogging, spotty as it may be.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

December views

I haven't posted for a long time, in part because our computer was getting an overhaul and it took a while. Let that be my excuse...

The photo above is of our courtyard from the patio. It snowed last night AGAIN and we got about 6 inches new snow! This on top of the snow we have been getting off and on for the last week. In addition, we have had sub-freezing temperatures for the same period, so nothing has melted. It is beautiful, but we are not equipped for this kind of weather, so we are getting a little house-bound...
I loved these delicate footprints on the patio this morning.

We are cozy indoors, here is our little tree. A real Christmas tree takes up a lot of space in a small apartment, I found this one on sale last year, and it suits our needs perfectly. I do need to find a way to display more of our ornaments, we have some really interesting and beautiful ones, collected over 29 years of marriage.
Below is a part of my angel collection. I have a garland with white lights that we put on top of our bookcases at Christmas, and I put my many angels in and among the garland. This is only one section of the 4 section bookcase.

I have been journaling again, and I recently made a cloth doll that I really love, but I will save that for a later post. Part of the computer overhaul was to give us a little more speed, and that has been achieved, so it won't take me so long to do a blog post.
If anyone is still reading this, I hope that you are warm and cozy, and that your holidays are bright!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Poem for the day, sharing words

LK Ludwig is hosting a day of sharing words, hop on over and read the many selections of bloggers, and enjoy their images. This photo captures what my family calls a "bibical sky".

When I was in high school, my friend Becky and I shared a love of poetry, especially e.e. cummings. Though he is considered a bit of a light weight now, I got out some of my books and found this one, which I loved then, and still love now.

i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun's birthday;this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings:and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any--lifted from the no
of all nothing--human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

circle journal swap

I am in a circle journal swap, and posted one spread I did on the great day of Nov. 5, 2008, and I have now finished my work in the three journals I had, so time to post a few peeks.

This is my favorite spread, that is me in 1971, this journal is "Magical Mystery Tour", and I got my inner hippie out. The full spread is below. I had the fortunate experience of finding exactly what I wanted to use, the first place I looked for it! Believe me, folks, that is a RARE occurrence!

Working on these journals has been a lot of fun, and I feel inspired to work in my own journals now, and to finish the journal I started when we went to Austin.
There are seven of us in this swap, and I have worked in 4 books now, so that means I have two more to go, and that my graffiti book will (hopefully) soon be returning to me. I am really excited to see what has happened in it.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

I have been tagged...

I don't usually do these, though I enjoy reading them, but Celeste has tagged me for a meme, and also asked me to start posting again, so I will play along! And, thanks to Binky, I can link to others without having to type out the whole address...I am a slooow study on computer things!
The photo is of my hubby and I with our daughter and her wonderful boyfriend in Austin, TX where they live (for the time being). We visited them in October. I am working on my travel journal from the trip, and will share later.

So, here are the rules:

1. link to the tagger, and list the rules on your blog.

2. share 7 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some wierd

3. tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blog

4. Let them know they've been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

Here are the 7 things about me.

1. My name is Gwen and I am a complusive reader. I have a tendency to read the way others
might drink, I go through periods when I read constantly. Like the last few months.
2. I love the Betsy-Tacy books by Maud Hart Lovelace, especially the ones about their high
school years. I couldn't count how many times I have read them. They were written in the
early part of the last century, Betsy gets married at the beginning of WWI.
3. I was a member of the Young Republicans in highschool for about 2 weeks. I have never
voted Republican in my life! Don't hate me, I discovered the error of my ways with lightning
4. I am very vain about my red hair, and plan to have it until I die!
5. I collect crocheted potholders and also cloth ones with faces on them
6. I commune with trees.
7. I have a degree in Japanese language and Asian studies that I have never used once in my entire life!!

I probably can't think of anyone to tag, as Celeste tagged most of the people I would feel comfortable tagging. I read a lot of blogs, but most of them aren't personal friends of mine.
I have reviewed this post a couple of times, and when I preview it, the line spacing is all out of whack. I do not want to re-type the whole thing, so I apologize for the ridiculous line breaks. It
doesn't look like that when I type it.... who knows?

It is a New Day, and the fog has been lifted...

My last post was about the dark day that started the nearly eight years of fear and hate and ineptitude that was/is the Bush administration. This post is about the joy I felt on the day after the election!

I am working in three circle journals that started the rounds in May and June, and on the morning of Nov. 5, I HAD to journal about Obama! His face mirrors the jubilation I felt and still feel. Like many of you, I cried throughout the day; with the waitress at the cafe in Bothell when I had lunch, with my co-workers at the clinic, when I read other's blogs, when I watched American Prayer on You-tube, listening to NPR, what an amazing day!

Thursday, September 11, 2008


No art today, I am remembering that seven years ago the sky was as blue as it is today, and that I kept thinking all day, "how can it be so beautiful when such a terrible thing has happened?"

I guess that defines heartbreakingly beautiful. In my journal today I wrote seven years ago the world changed. The world changes every day, of course, but everyone who was alive and old enough to be aware knows that things really did change that day.

My heart is with all of the people who died that day, and their families. Also with the families of all the soldiers and civilians who have died since then in the "war on terror". Yesterday my son told me that one of the kids who was a neighbor of ours years ago was killed last week in Afghanistan. He was a Marine. My heart is especially with his mother and the rest of his family.

It is time to change in a big way. October 4 is the last day to register to vote in Washington state in time for this year's presidential election. If you aren't registered, or you know someone who isn't, DO IT!!

peace to all of us,

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Sketching and doodling...

From time to time I get the urge to draw, or sketch, and I carry a sketching journal with me. While we were at the family reunion in August, I captured a couple of my nephews during the family story-telling time. This is Jim, he is about 20. He is extremely well-spoken and thoughtful, as the pose might indicate.
This is Michael, the 12 year old son of my nephew, Todd. He was so still while I was sketching him that I thought for sure he was posing for me, but he told me later that he didn't know I was drawing him! I used caran d'ache and a water pen to add color to these.
Quick sketches of our wonderful dog, Nell, during naps. I was really glad that I could do these, as she was not still for very long...
Finally a page of doodles. I loved drawing freely from my imagination in Theo Ellsworth's class at ArtFest earlier this year, but haven't let myself do it much since. This was fun. I blocked off some journaling which included too many names.

I have been finding a lot of sketching on other people's blogs lately, and thought I would share some of my recent work. I would like to draw every day, it isn't that hard, and I enjoy it. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the portrait sketches were reasonable likenesses, I want to do more sketches of people. I love the faces that Danny Gregory draws.

Monday, September 1, 2008

I am purchasing a new toy for Halloween!

Etsy :: tarasartcamp :: Pumpkin Girl, Stuffie, Softie

I have just purchased this wonderful, delightful, doll from one of my favorite outsider artists, Tara Ross! I love Halloween, and couldn't resist this doll! Check her out at, and check out her etsy, too!

The seasons have done an abrupt switch here in the Northwest, and I am thinking about Halloween, and fires in the fireplace, and baking bread and making soups.

I need to learn how to do a few basic things on my blog, too, like how to do a link to someone's website without having to put in the whole address... Enjoy Tara's work, though!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Catching up with the Circle Journal

Celeste ( started a circle journal group several months ago, my journal is graffiti, I wrote about it in May or June. I have finally finished working in Celeste's book, this is the title page. She is a new mom, and wanted thoughts on raising a child.

Raising a child is a long time ago for me, but it is a subject that is near to my heart. I did have a little trouble getting started on the book, though, cute pastel thoughts kept floating around in my head, and I am just not a pastel kind of person... Some of the pages were started a little by Celeste, and I added to this one, the most important ingredient in raising a happy and well-adjusted child! It is water-soluble crayon and Sharpie poster paint marker.
The next page is about books, I found an magazine article about collecting Golden books, and it was perfect for a page about the importance of reading, something I happen to know that Celeste is already doing with her little man!

We read books and novels to our children until well past the age that most parents quit reading to their kids. We enjoyed it as much as the kids. I remember my father reading Winnie-the-Pooh to me and my siblings and all of us laughing about Eeyore, and I wanted to share memories like that with my kids. I read most of The Chronicles of Narnia to my son, and we loved it.
The last page is really "me". Not only do I think that play is so important for kids of all ages, but I like the colors and the randomness of the spread. I colored a few background pages for the other players to do with what they will.
Tomorrow the book is off to Michelle ( And I hope that I will have another book to work in soon. The process is going slower than we anticipated, but I am enjoying it. Luckily, there are only 7 of us in the group, or at our current rate, we would be doing this for a very long time... And I will be the first to admit that I hold on to the books for a long time! I will try to do better the next time...!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

I am on a roll... with books

I am happy that the creating bug has got me big time lately, I have been making books and having a blast. My dear niece Alycia and LB were married on the 15 of this month, and I really wanted to do something special for her because she was the flower girl at our wedding, 29 years ago. I have been feeling very nostalgic ever since they announced the date. I also wanted to do something fun and handmade because they seem like the kind of people who would like that. They are both in theater, and their wedding invitation was a total kick in the pants! So, I made an altered board book recipe book. The cover is fabric printed with aprons, I have had it for a few years and this was the perfect use for it. I collected recipes from all of Alycia's aunts on the Delmore side (there are six) and her mom.
I covered the inside pages with interesting scrapbook paper, and used my favorite 50's housewife stamp. This title page explains the gift.
Each aunt has a page, and a recipe. I am very pleased with how it came out, I am making them aprons, also, as they both like to cook.

Yesterday I made this book from directions in issue 12 of Teesha Moore's ART & LIFE. It is made from 12x12 cardstock and scrapbook papers.
This is the front, the flaps fold out, and the rest of the book folds out from there. The finished book, folded, is 6x6 inches, and could be made smaller.
There are several square surfaces, and about 6 flaps, so a lot of surface to write on, doodle, or collage. It would make a great travel journal, or a special photo album, with the flaps for journaling, but I intend to use it as a journal and collage and stamp on the backgrounds of scrap-book paper. Teesha's suggestion in the article was to use it as a surface for collage so it wouldn't be "flat". It is tempting not to add anything, because the papers coordinate so well, but I want to see what it will look like after I work in it.

This was a very fun book to make, it only took me about two hours total to put it together, and the next time I think it will be faster. I hope I will be able to make a dent in my HUGE stash of scrapbook paper making these.

This would also be a fun way to showcase hand decorated papers, like the ones I made in Anne Bagby's class at AF.

Check back to see what I do with this book eventually.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Travel Journal

The front of the travel journal I did while we were on vacation. I used caran d'ache and a water brush to add color to the pages, the gesso made that possible, I did a little writing on each page and the date.
I added the trimmed off edges of the water color I did with Patricia to commemorate that day, and the warning sign we saw so many times on the way to Port Townsend.
This is the inside of the travel journal, unfolded. I added photos from the trip, and business cards I picked up from memorable places we visited.
The four of us on Long Beach (I am only in shadow). I love how happy everyone looks, we were!
This was a cool way to do a travel journal, and I will do this type again, if not for a travel journal, for something else. I really liked the shape and the surface.

Vacation, part 2

One day we drove to the north end of the peninsula, to Leadbetter State Park, to walk to the beach through the "woods". The park is also a wildlife refuge, and very undeveloped. We parked and walked a little way to Willapa Bay, an absolutely huge bay formed by the Long Beach peninsula. The tide was out, and we walked for quite a way along the flats of the bay. It wasn't really mud, a combination of sand, and mud, and various grasses and seaweeds. It was a cloudy day, which made for good photos. I loved the colors and texture of the grasses.
I love nurse logs, dead trees or stumps that give back to new life.
The beach trail was about 2 miles, it went through very dense and claustrophobic, scrubby forest, as well as grasses and open places before opening out on to the beach. It was nesting season for western snowy plovers, so part of the dune and the sand was blocked off to protect the nesting habitat.
On Friday, we drove from Long Beach to Port Townsend to catch a ferry to Whidbey Island, the largest island in Puget Sound. The weather was beautiful this day, but we ran into so much road work that we missed the ferry we had a reservation for, and had to wait for an hour.

This is the view from the porch of the houses at Fort Casey Inn, where the family reunion of my husband's family took place. The houses were a bit rustic, but very comfortable, the big chairs on the porches were wonderful! We took all 8 of the houses, and the Garrison Hall, which we used for family dinners and entertainment and a family mass celebrated by my husband's oldest brother, who is a Jesuit priest.

This is a section of the inside of my travel journal, with a family photo, and a combo of photos from the entertainment and the mass. Two of the older siblings turned and will be 70, and there were funny hats, songs and speeches. My husband is one of 11 siblings, and the older kids used to have to memorize poems and speeches for entertainment.

At the family reunions we always have some kind of talent show, or play, and I always wondered why. By the time my hubby came along (he and his twin are the youngest), the older sibs were leaving home and new traditions were forming. This family is great, some of the best senses of humor I have ever encountered, and we always have a great time when we get together! Luckily, most of the sibs live in the Seattle area, so we see each other fairly often. The reunion is a chance for the out-of-towners to get in on the action, and for us to have concentrated time together.

This was one of our best vacations, ever.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The travel journal

Inspired by something Fran Meneley did in Sas Colby's workshop in Taos, see and, I painted two single sheets of newspaper with gesso and then drew lines on the dry gesso. I had to glue the two sheets of newspaper together, they curled too much, so one side has the lines and the other side is just plain gesso. I then folded and cut the papers and made a book. I love the look of the lines on the gesso, they get a little smeary and make a wonderful graphic element. The folded book is below. Counting the front and back, there are 8 pages, exactly how long we would be gone on our vacation, and I planned to do something every day to commemorate the trip. Since the "inside" of the book can also be utilized, I planned to add souvenirs and photos to the plain gesso side.
I did finish the journal while we were gone, and am still adding things to the inside. More photos to come. I am quite proud of myself, I have never done a travel journal before. I was inspired to do the travel journal by my friend Paula's travel journals of her trip to France. Find her at . Her journals are incredibly beautiful, and mine is very humble by comparison, but remember that I went to Long Beach and Whidbey Island, and she was in FRANCE!

Vacation, part 1

This was our destination for 4 days in Ocean Park, WA on the Long Beach Peninsula. This is Miss Lily's Cottage. It was cozy and comfortable for the hubby and I and our dear friends, Patricia and Dave from Ottawa. They had been in Oregon for a family reunion the weekend before, and we met at Miss Lily's. Patricia and I were room mates in the dorm freshman year at U of Oregon, and have stayed friends all the (many) years since then.

We meet, and begin talking as though there has been no absence, in fact, I think that we have grown closer over the years, even though we only see each other once a year.

The weather was beautiful driving to the coast, but we could see the bank of fog approaching as we got closer to Long Beach. It was foggy on Tuesday morning when we got up, but we set out for the beach anyway. Long Beach has a long beach, but one has to hike over grassy dune to get there, so nothing is really on the beach. Maybe that is why people can drive on the beach (which I think is insane and ridiculous) there.

In any case, we hiked over the dune, and at the edge of the dune, just before you got on to the beach, there was a street marker, saying 268th , which was the street we were on, pretty cool! It doesn't look like it was foggy in this shot, but it was, the sun was starting to come through. It was blowing around, and we had to be careful of the stupid cars on the beach. Luckily, there weren't many up where we were.
The next day, we went to the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center, which is fabulous. I love the history of the Northwest, I read lots of books about it when I was in school, and I am a real geek about visiting historical sites.

This is not a photo of the interpretitive center, though, there is an old military installation at the same site, called Ft. Canby, that used to guard the mouth of the Columbia River. I decided to wander through it, and found an absolute treasure trove of graffiti, and peeling paint! I was in heaven, and took MANY photos. Everyone was tired, and Tom kept saying time to go, but there was so much to see!

These are just two, but I am planning to do a book of the photos, and riff on the colors and shapes. There will be more to come.
This is how one's non-photographer, non-graffiti loving friends look after you finally return... It was time to go back to the cottage and have a beer and kick back! Patricia and I talked every waking moment about art and our lives, she is a wonderful watercolor painter, and is very free in her style. We painted together one afternoon, and she showed me some of her tricks. More on that in another post.

Saturday, August 2, 2008 anyone still out there??

Gadzooks! It has been 3 months since I posted here! I read several blogs daily, but I can't seem to follow through with my own blog for very long. And, of course, I have messed up on how to upload photos, so these are out of order.

We moved in May, just across the parking lot in the same complex, to a first floor apartment, which opens out on a very nice grassy courtyard, with trees and flowering shrubs, and a lovely flower garden next door.

The apartment is slightly larger than our other one, it is still two bedrooms, but the bedrooms are larger, and somehow even the living room and dining room are more spacious. We love the apartment. We are sharing the larger bedroom as our studio space, and it is a luxury to have this much space.
The above is one of my favorite pages in the journal I created for a 7 person "circle journal" round robin I am in. More about that later, when I get to the rest of the pictures...
This is my husband, Tom, and our new dog, Nell. She is a shiba inu, a Japanese breed, who we acquired shortly after moving into our (ground floor) apartment. We didn't realize how much we needed a dog until we got her. She is very sweet and smart and loving.

We are the typical empty-nesters with a dog, completely in love and she has us wrapped around her...little paw. We discuss potty habits and sleeping schedules just like we used to discuss the same topics about our kids.
She weighs about 15 pounds and is two years old. Loves walking and will play fetch until she drops!

So. This is the cover of my graffiti book. I made it with hot press watercolor paper, and used some type of illustration board for the cover. It is 9 x 9 inches, and I had it bound at Kinko's. Celeste of started this group. We have all had a little trouble getting the whole thing rolling, I now have Celeste's book and will be working in it soon.
My book went to Michelle of, who sent it along to Andrea at I don't have the blog addresses of the rest of the players, but will add them as I get their books.
The sign in page, and intro to the book. I love the rough quality of graffiti and all that that implies for me, peeling paint, letters, rust, randomness.
Another page,
and another.
The other half of the spread with the circles. I love the scribbly lines of this, and the way that the circles came out.

On Monday, we are leaving for 8 days away, we are meeting good friends in Long Beach, WA for four days, and then going to the Fort Casey Inn on Whidbey Island for a family reunion. I am looking forward to all of it. I love the ocean, I love the people we will be with, and I am making a little journal just for the week. More about that when I get back!

Oh, check out the posts about Fran's week in Taos on There are beautiful photographs, and incredible art from a workshop with Sas Colby.