Can it really be Christmas already?

I was going to be so organized.  I was going to have some new decorating ideas to execute.  I was going to paint some Christmas watercolors.  Where did the time go?  Are you all ready for your year end holidays?  I’m close – just not really there.  Time has been taken up a bit trying to keep up with watercolor class lessons, which I’ve also not quite done!

We took a few days off and headed to Canada for a Christmas market in Vancouver and a little shopping.  When I was young, I used to always Christmas shop in Vancouver since for many years it was closer to us than Seattle – and had cool, different stuff.  Since 9/11, of course, it is much more time consuming to get across the border so we don’t head up there much.  But this year we jumped on Amtrak and enjoyed a couple of days away,  Christmas decorations in another big city and some good food.

IMG_1930It was nice to follow through and actually journal about a trip – I’m getting there!

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Junk Journaling – do you practice it?

You know how it seems like sometimes you run across something for the first time, something you’ve never heard of before, and then within a couple of weeks you have seen it three or four times?  That is my experience with what is called “junk journaling”.  Many artists practice it in many different ways, and a couple of times I didn’t even realize that what I was looking at fell into that category.  But I think maybe I’ve finally found the journaling style that I’ve been seeking without really knowing it was a “thing”!

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Teesha Moore in her Artstronauts Club showed us how she makes what she calls a junk journal…adding all sorts of papers and cards and objects that you don’t want to lose into a book form – and then using the basic form as a jumping off place to journal and continue to add others papers and ephemera.  It’s kinda wild and loose and freeing at the same time to construct it and something I thought I might get to at some point.

I did not connect that junk journaling with the File Folder Journal class that Ingrid Dijkers teaches.  I took her class this year at the Seattle CREATE retreat after lusting after it for a couple of years.  You start the journal pages by putting together all sorts of different papers in a piece 12 feet long, then cut that up to make your pages.  Because you have made the paper with no thought of where the page breaks will be, you end up with really intriguing pages.  Some of the papers are very thin and some are pretty busy but the idea is that you will add embellishments and other papers onto that base.  I didn’t think about it as a junk journal per se, but the idea used to start is the same – use up some stuff.

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True junk journals, if one looks them up on the internet,  are defined as places to keep all that stuff that permeates our lives in a place where we can find it…see Smash Journals.   But taking it on to the next step and making the journal into an art journal is where I think I’m headed.  I’ve always enjoyed taking ordinary things – like Theo chocolate wrappers – and turning them into art in my art journals.  But I’ve often bounced back and forth between “journals” and “art” and lots of times just got stuck in what I was doing.  But somehow, practicing in my new journals made at CREATE, I’ve found a place that seems to suit me.
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Mind you, I’m not making any headway very fast – the quick movement to tape everything into the junk journal collides with the idea to take time to make sure all the elements work well together.  But I’m finding that I’m enjoying this journey and see it more as a way to move further into the art that I want to complete.

And right now it’s just feeling good to have some acrylic paint back on my fingers.

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What I’ve been up to lately

I feel like I’m going in such a different direction lately with my art pursuits.  I can’t tell you how long it’s been since I’ve picked up acrylic paint!  Mainly its been due to taking some classes and wanting to really get the best from them by practicing what I’m learning.  And it all comes down to how much time there is in a day, doesn’t it?

So – here is my most recent page from my current Jane LaFazio on line watercolor class, Watercolor Sketchbook – Designs from Life – and a little something I added to my art journal that I completed in Katherine England’s art journal-making class at CREATE.

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Enjoy your weekend!

FullSizeRender 4Need to get back down and to work on week 2 of Designs from Life!


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Some time away….

Not from home, but from the blog!  Can’t believe how long it’s been since I’ve posted anything here!  And not because I don’t think of it often but more that I felt that I’ve run out of interesting things to say.  I notice that I have three draft blogs I started since I last posted, but they were seeming kind of lame so I left them.  I’ve kept busy taking some classes and dabbling in some art and usually that means that I have a lot to tell you all – but that’s not been the case this time.

I’ve been taking time for art – since we last spoke I also attended three days at CREATE mixed media retreat in Seattle and had a GREAT time in classes, learning new things, meeting on-line instructors in person and getting to know some new instructors and arty friends.  And we threw a 2 week vacation in Cabo into the mix as well, so things have been happening!  pumpkin for wordI’ve been following through on watercolor classes and getting things done.  I learned so much from Jacqueline Newbold in person at CREATE on how to keep a watercolor travel journal that is also a mixed media journal – an idea which really resonates with me since I’m not so good at always following through on the drawing part but I’m always good at the picking up odds and ends part!  The timing was good, too, since we were headed to Mexico shortly after classes so I could put some of my learnings to work.  And low and behold, I actually made some marks in a travel journal before I came home, a goal I’ve had for a couple of years!


I also really enjoyed taking another class from Ingrid Dijkers.  You may or may not remember my successes and then not with the Twirly Swirly journal  but I really like Ingrid and her style and was able to take her file folder journal class and get totally energized in that process as well as found some ways to move forward with that older journal.  Yay, me!

I also found a new love – journal making, as taught by Katherine England.  I loved the process, I like using the paper and I kinda kept up with drawing or writing before I went on vacation.  I love how she draws and even went so far as to almost copy one of her pages – there is something easy, breezy about the banners in that hair that just sent me, how they intertwine with each other that I wanted to capture so that I can remember and use that process again.

journal faceWe are back home, getting ready for a major interior painting and the holidays so I’m expecting that there will be even LESS time for blogging!  I decided that there is less time now for creating art to sell so have put the Etsy site on vacation even though the holiday gift giving season is upon us – just too much pressure to keep up.  I’m enjoying a new watercolor on-line class and think I’m getting better and know that I’m being more diligent about following through with my ideas.

I hope that you all are enjoying spending time in doing what you love – it makes a day more enjoyable than getting the dusting done, I’ve discovered!


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So many decision points along the way

The one thing about being retired is that there are so many fewer decisions to make during a day, which is a good thing!  I sleep a bit better than I used to when I worked in part because the weight of those decisions doesn’t keep me up.

Or does it?  Lately I’ve been keeping track of the decisions that I make during an unscheduled day.  Watercolor or mixed media?  Clean the art space or just clear a spot to make more art?  Journal or make a piece of art?  Make art or watch videos of making art?   Work on updating my Etsy site or work to complete pieces to sell on my site?  Draw or paint?  Exercise or paint?  Garden or paint?  I’ve found that I’m waking up early with so many decisions on my mind it just can’t shut down.  How to corral and control those decisions so they don’t control me?

Sometimes it’s easy.  I’m taking an on-line class and there is a finite amount of time to get things done for the lesson.  Recently that’s been a watercolor class so I’ve spent lots of time sketching and painting to keep up with the class.  I have a few real classes coming up in a few weeks so some time has been taken gathering supplies and preparing for those so I can make the most out of that real time experience.

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But sometimes I get antsy – do you too?  I’m not very disciplined so that when I’m working in one media, I’m often thinking of what I would do in the other mediums I enjoy.  I also am easily sidetracked by new information and pretty pictures so if one of the bloggers I follow has some new product or new technique that fits in my wheelhouse, I find that I want to take off and try it right away!

I have tried some solutions – taking time to write down ideas that I have to save for later so that I don’t forget them while also allowing me to continue on my current path.  And that works sometimes.  What I find, though, is that I’m anxious to move on from one thing to another probably too fast so that in the end, I’m not doing justice to any of my work!  I’ve decided to focus and do better on this – but does anyone have good suggestions for what works best for you?


Right now I’m trying to revive my Etsy site since I’ve let it languish a bit.  I really enjoy the conversations and interactions I have with folks who have purchased my work – it brings good vibes and I truly enjoy moving things on to new homes.  As part of the reinvigoration, I decided to change my shop name to MKJartworks.  The old name came from one of the first email addresses we had way back when email first started – and made sense for John and I, but never made sense as my shop name.  The link on the side still works but you’ll note a new name when you visit, which I hope you will!

Enjoy the weekend!




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It’s September – time for new things

Does it feel the same way to you – there is something about the chill in the air and the calendar turning to September that instills a sense that it’s time to learn new things?  I know Spring is supposed to be the time of renewal but for me that sense most often comes in September.  I think it must be that the many years of starting school at the end of the summer became so ingrained in us that we never quite enter Fall without feeling like we should be in school no matter how old we get!photo 1

My September has included learning new things about art – mainly watercolor but with a healthy dose of sketching.    It’s a new thing for me to feel like I’m able to capture what’s in front of me on paper in a way that pleases me and looks reasonably like how I meant it to look!  Thanks to my continuing class with Jane LaFazio my comfort zone is being expanded just a bit – and I think the daily practice helps too!

photoOne of the things I am most enjoying is actually using my blank journals!  I don’t know about you but I’m a collector of really great watercolor and sketching journals – and have a number of them with absolutely no used pages.  As a recovering perfectionist it’s been hard to think about ruining that really great journal by making a mess in it.  But that’s what they’re for and it’s been feeling really good to mess up some pages, but in a good way.

photo 2I’m certainly enjoying working on my art and moving the needle forward on my ability to paint and draw.  I hope that I’m creating good art discipline habits since that’s what school was all about, right?  Learning good habits including the habit of life long learning!  And I’m hoping to take a semester break abroad to put my skills to good use capturing my travels in an art journal.  More on that later…

What about you – does Fall bring you new learning opportunities?


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Where’d you go, Bernadette?

Okay, I know my name is not Bernadette but that title had such a nice ring to it. And I have been gone for a while.  Seems like my posting stopped about the time Summer of Color went away.  I think that was just a coincidence – I think that life just got in the fast lane and before I realized it, weeks have gone by since my last post!

photo 4Life and art are moving forward.  I’ve been mostly dabbling in watercolor – taking on-line classes from Jacqueline Newbold, Diana Gessler and I just started an art journaling class with Jane LaFazio.

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Just when I think I have something down, I try something new and it doesn’t work quite as well as I’d like, but that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?  I’m trying to get used to using brushes that have a water reservoir after using standard brushes dipped in water and finding them harder to manage, but they are also the best tool to take along to sketch.

And that’s what I’m working toward – becoming a better watercolor sketcher.  Feeling confident enough to pull out my sketchbook to record a moment in time, whether it is in my hood or when I’m halfway across the world.  I so admire folks who can do that and have sketchbooks of their trips.

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The above sketch isn’t perfect, but it is me and in “my style” which is beginning to emerge. The proportions aren’t perfect but in Jane’s course I’m learning to look and take the time to “see” the object I’m drawing and get all the lines and nuances captured.  I’m excited because I have an in-person journaling class with Jacqueline Newbold when CREATE comes to Seattle in October. It will be just before we take off for a two-week vacation where I hope to spend time journaling each day.  I have high hopes.

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What have you all been up to?


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Continuing on a colorful journey

So maybe it all started with Summer of Color and the foray into new and interesting color combinations.  Or maybe it was the cover of the newest issue of Uppercase with its beautiful color wheel on front.  Or it could have been the trip to Island Quilter and their wonderful array of Kaffe Fassett fabric.  Or maybe it was the trip to Daniel Smith yesterday for their factory tour followed by playing with watercolor paints!  Whatever it was, I’m still on a color kick!

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I’m going to break in to my stash of Aurifil threads soon but couldn’t help noticing how pretty this Laurel Burch array of thread is all together – doesn’t it just make you want to dive in?

color chart blogAnd the color chart is ALMOST done….just need to get that Permanent Magenta into my palette so that I can make all the color mixed.  I had the hardest time cleaning out my mixing palette each time…all the color mixes on that white enamel were so pretty.  I almost took a photo each time before I cleaned but then thought that got silly….but all that yummy color all over and just not enough time to find something new to paint each time.

backyeard blogAnd I have tried to draw something each day, my personal mission I set up to test whether I can be trusted with a travel journal!  This isn’t great, but it is better than it might have been two weeks ago.  There should be a chair to the right…..but it needs work.  There should be more dark to the right of the tree.  But working fast and working to finish are a couple of goals, knowing that when I finish this one, I can try to draw another.  This also gave me a good excuse to try out some of my color mixes that I learned from making my color chart.  AND gave me a place to use the new Daniel Smith Green Apatite Genuine!  Can’t wait to use that one more.

I’m seeing color all around right now and working to take it all in as well as capture some of it.  I need to get back to my fantasy journal class where there is lots of color, too….and I have some new ideas for some mixed media pieces running around in my head.  And a fun thing – I just ordered a Nuvango  iPad cover of my newest art piece (the original is over on Etsy).  I can’t wait to use some of my art to protect my iPad!

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A gray day – PERFECT for making colors!

We’re getting some much needed rain here in the Pac NW – coming down really hard and it is pretty dark outside!  But my plants are loving it and it is the perfect excuse not to be working in the yard but instead inside playing with watercolors!

And what’s not to like with all the rainbow of colors available?  To tell you the truth, I had NO IDEA about watercolor paints – I thought they all came in those hard palettes we had as kids, little cakes that you activate with a wet brush when you want to mush color around.  I had no idea about the tubes and the rare earths and supplies necessary to make paint.  I’m really excited – my step-daughter and I are going to tour the Daniel Smith factory on Saturday and at the end, we get to experiment a bit with their colors!  I have a reasonable starter set now, but after a lecture last week and the tour this week, I’m betting I’ll come home with colors that granulate (I hope to learn what that means!).

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Jacqueline Newbold gave us instructions last year in her Artful Gathering class for making a color chart using all of our colors and mixing them across to see what kinds of colors we could achieve using our palette.  I’ve expanded my palette a bit since the original set and I’m seeing new colors all the time but I thought it was really worth taking some time to see what colors I could achieve with what I have.  It’s time consuming but I think I’ll be really happy in the end that I took some time out to make this color key.

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I don’t know about you but do you notice sometimes that when you are paying attention to something, it seems to show up everywhere?  That’s what seems to be going on with me and color and in particular color wheels. I’ve been tripping around on the internet and discovered Jane Blundell (a link to her color wheels here.)  In here wheel she mixes colors across the wheel so I decided, since my paper has two sides, I would do that too.  And I swooned over the cover of this quarter’s Uppercase magazine (I’ve put a link here.)  So much so that I subscribed this year – this color issue looks AWEsome and I can’t wait to get my copy!  

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And of course I can’t seen to quite let go of my little quilting detour I seem to take now and then.  Maybe it’s the rain but I started playing with some new and old fabrics today too.  After all, I had to have something colorful to do while the paints dried!

Hope you are having a colorful day wherever you are!


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Serious reorganization required!

Take a class, add some new materials.  Watch a demo, add some new materials.  Talk to a friend about their art materials, add some new material.  All those material have just been floating into the art space with no general direction.  But since I’ve now added watercolor sketching and journaling and the associated tools to all my other mixed media mayhem, it was time today to try to take control!

I’m not totally disorganized – I can’t be creative if there is too much chaos – but I’ve gotten to the point that I can’t put my hands on the materials that I need when I need them and so I take too much time away from creating when I have to move into search and rescue mode.  So today was about bringing a bit more order.

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I now have some special pens particular to sketching and I needed a place for those.  I want to do some ATCs on watercolor paper and I need to have a place to store those.  I have a lot of plastic vegetable bags for providing texture in my mixed media journal pages that show up in 4 different drawers – they just need to find one home together, probably with the other household texture materials.  Stuff like that.

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I have some cool ways to store my materials – nice places to store my brushes and pencils and pens – but with so many different kinds of media I’m finding that I really need to find particular places for particular tools….not all brushes are created equal!

In part I hope the reorganization will also help me see how to dabble in multiple art disciplines at the same time.  I’m enjoying the learning and new methods for watercolor sketching and painting but I also want to keep my mixed media art going because I have a LOT of ideas running around in my head.


In line with my mixed media, I wanted to let you know about a new place that I’ve uploaded some of my art in ways that you can make it your own!  I’ve purchased iPad skins and phone cases from Gela skins in the past – I think they are the best product out there to protect your stuff and I did not take my newest iPad around without my Gela skin.  I got a notice this weekend that they have changed their name to Nuvango and invited artists to upload art so others may buy it!  So, I uploaded a few of my favorite pieces onto the site – can’t decide yet which iPad skin I want to order, but hopefully you’ll go take a look at my page at Nuvango.  It would be GREAT if you could favorite a couple of my pieces you like.  I’d LOVE to have some of my art running around on someone else’s iPhone – how cool would that be?  And what incentive to stay organized and to keep making art!


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