Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Little Art Bag

I have been having fun dying, coloring and stenciling fabric, I'm making little bags that will hold hand outs and supplies for a class I will be teaching in Hampton, Va in a few weeks.
I put an informal "how I do this" on my blog but forgot to show the bird and best of all these cool little crayons called NEOCOLOR II a water soluble wax pastel. They will write on just about anything and as it says they will blend with a damp brush. They are a bit expensive but try out a few basic colors then go for the BIG box. Here is a link to see all the things they can do.
You can see the back side of the bag on my blog. Have fun creating.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Journaling Fever

I’ve been an avid journaler since grade school when I kept a journal that locked with a little key. Since that time, I’ve moved on just a bit. For the past six years I’ve been doing Morning Pages, a daily stream of consciousness writing inspired by Julia Cameron and The Artist’s Way. I use a simple lined journal; here is the one I’m using at the current time.

I also like to keep a travel journal when I go on trips, writing at the end of each day and gluing in collected ephemera. I doodle and draw, using watercolors to add some zip.

But the most fun I have is keeping a visual journal. My visual journals are filled with paint, collage, writing, and poems, and sometimes bits and bobs of found treasures. I make my own journals and here is a pile of current, past, and waiting to be used journals.

And here are a few sample pages out of my current journal.

If you want to see more of my pages or read about my monthly visual journaling group, the Orange Dream Monkeys, check out my blog at Alley Art Studio.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

It's beginning to look like a broken record... More Cards... by Lenall Siebenaler

It's beginning to look like a broken record--I know. I made two different types of cards this week. I've been wanting to do Alphabet Cards for quite sometime. I found these jungle papers and the rest came together. I finished 48 cards.
I love Flamingos, too!

I plan to go back and work on some bigger pieces today!
Check out more on my blog, Plethora of Color:

Friday, April 23, 2010

All My Journals

Journaling is part of my everyday life. I start each morning writing in a journal just to clear my thoughts and organize my day. Those pages often end up with lots of doodles and ideas popping up in the margins.

My visual journals I do more sporadically. I meet with a sketch group once a week, which is probably the only thing that keeps me on a regular sketching schedule. I usually draw with ink then add bits of watercolor. We visit various places around Portland:

I really enjoy journaling when I travel to capture bits of my trip. Leigh inspired me to do a page of "inchies", tiny drawings, while I was in Mexico. A quick way to get a page full of local color and detail.

I also like to work in a visual journal where I work quickly without a plan. This allows me a place to loosen up without fear of the results. (Many of them are just plain ugly when I'm done!) These often are based around collage:

Or painting:

And finally, I like to keep an idea book going for possible future projects. It's a mix of photographs, magazine clippings, sketches, color palettes--anything that attracts my attention. This one contains a quilt from an art magazine and notes about what attracted me to it, a mask from the newspaper, and sketches I did of rain on the window that I thought would make interesting stitch patterns.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


This friendly cat came and curled up next to me while I sat by the pool in Bali. He was just one of a big little that seemed to have taken up residence near our room. All of the cats in this litter had crooked tails.
One of the reasons that I like journaling so much is that it can bring me right back into the moment unlike looking at a photograph. I can remember the heat of this day, and the gently swaying palms, and even the distant music from the temple. I wish I was there right now--except with air conditioning!
Another thing I like to include in my journals is pictures of the airline food, especially if it is something unusual, like the things they served us on Japan Airlines. I don't draw the typical mundane United or Delta meals, though. Oh, right, I forgot, they don't serve any meals!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Some journal pages

We go to Mexico where I find drawing and painting a way to slow down. It helps me see and feel and sense the village were we "live" temporarily. It's a mindfulness practice that is both humbling and inspiring. See the bottom image

I also enjoy using my SoulCollage® cards to inspire backgrounds and writing. See the top image.

Visual journaling feels like looking through a unique window on the world, through alternate ways of knowing. . . . plus its fun!


Playing Brings Good Ideas...

Sometimes you have to play to figure out or decide what stays.

I have found that I am at my best creatively when I just do. I seemingly don't think about what I am doing. One of my favorite ways of working is sitting with a pile of papers in front of me--handmade or not. I just intuitively put pieces together to create.

I have a lot of piles of paper in my studio.

Yesterday, I finished 65 new cards. I started a few on Tuesday night when I met with my "Old" Watercolor Group to paint and then created and finished them yesterday. If you want to see them you can see a few on my blog, Plethora of Color:

What happens is kind of like how morning pages work. If you do it long enough, something good or true is bound to come out. What came out for me yesterday was that I really like what I did in the above piece. I had no preconceived notion as to what would come-- I just did it. I used three different pieces of paper and went with the flow of the stitches on one of them. ( Two years ago, I had wanted to use a sewing machine to do stitches on paper and barely got far as it kept stopping and leaving me with a mess to figure out. I am not good with puzzles. Anyway, I'd love it if someone would work with me to get going on this process again. I just don't feel confident to do it alone.)

I am thinking about working on some small pieces like this for our show in December. Little landscapes and maybe some cat and bird pieces.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Jennifer's Italy Journal

I journal mainly while traveling. This page is from my 2004 Italian Adventure. Journal size is 6x 9 watercolor paper. The view of Florence, Italy is from my room in Hotel Carravaggio.

Question of the Month--Journaling?

Our group question for the month is "Do you keep a journal or sketchbook?" Hope you enjoy this range of responses, from the devoted to the guilt ridden. Our members had lots to say on this subject, so it's a long post. Grab a cup of tea and enjoy!


I started keeping a sketchbook journal over 7 years ago when I went on a fiber tour of Mexico. I wanted to add some watercolors to the travel journals I had kept, so took a short class. I enjoyed it so much that it soon became a regular habit, one that I believe can be life changing. I have over 50 volumes now, all in handmade journals that I design. I started teaching artful journaling over 5 years ago to share these techniques. My journals contain snippets from my daily life, overheard conversations and quotes. It is my constant companion.


I couldn't live without my journals and have various sorts:
  1. I've been keeping written morning pages for about 15 years now after reading Julia Cameron's "The Artist's Way." They are stream of consciousness writing and a way of quickly clearing thoughts out of my head every morning.
  2. I meet with a sketch group weekly and keep a sketch journal of places we go.
  3. I occasionally work in a big art journal as a place to unleash creativity without any criticizing or advanced planning.
  4. I keep an idea book full of sketches, pictures, and notes for possible projects.

I have a large blank-paged journal into which I write inspirational poems and writings, pithy sayings, memorable quotes and beautifully wrought sentences or paragraphs from books that I have read. I use different colored pens and vary my handwriting so each filled page is decorative. I dive into this journal whenever I need a specific saying or quote to write into one of my handmade cards.


When I go on vacation, I always take a sketch book. Thanks to Leigh, a member of our group who did a "Drawing a Day" for 365 days, I do a drawing a day while on vacation. I especially love bird watching and use drawing to deeply see the birds that I find in my binoculars. With a photo and my laptop, I pencil in the scenes and then use watercolor mostly. My husband, on the other hand, is not troubled by reality and makes a very quick sketch and paints it. I aspire to such fluidity.


I am not a faithful keeper of a written journal, although I have spent hours thinking of thoughts to fill the pages of several journals. I do love to prepare journal pages and fill the pages with art; however, find I am very reluctant to write on my art! LOL

But when I travel, I always have a journal with me to record a once in a lifetime adventure, sketch a memorable visual diary or to collect collage material along the way. But my primary venue for journaling is my blog, which I try to keep up faithfully.


I keep an on-going, chronological idea book and art journal calendar. Both include information on workshops attended, notes and sketches for projects developed, inspiration from exhibits seen, photos and articles that inspire me, postcards received from favorite artists and galleries, business cards, art group meeting notes, new products, blogs, books and websites to check out. I sketch in a separate sketchbook on Tuesday mornings. For every trip taken, I create a visual travel journal.


I'm a journaling fool! I love journals and have kept them on and off since I had a little locked one in grade school. I always do a travel journal when I take a trip, writing at the end of each day and gluing in collected ephemera--I also doodle and draw, using watercolors to add some zip. I've been doing Morning Pages, daily writing, since I discovered them through Julia Cameron's Artist's Way about six years ago. But the most fun I have is keeping a visual journal. My visual journals are filled with paint, collage, writing, and poems, and sometimes bits and bobs of found treasures.


I've started journals numerous times but have never really filled any, although I continue to work on a loose-leaf watercolor sketchbook. It allows me to practice drawing and mixing colors. I also have a few simple sketchbooks laying around to record ideas for jewelry, stitchery, and painting projects; nothing fancy!


Journaling and I have been at odds for some time. Oh I absolutely adore the journals of my friends. The colors, the words and images are all so beautiful yet poignant with unveiled truth. Despite this, how many journals have I started and then abandoned? Many upon many. Usually all started when my life seemed out of control or in a distasteful place. Some were all text trying to find answers, others full of colors and images that gave a voice to my feelings. But all were abandoned due to a lack of time, energy or motivation.

I have not given up on journaling though, and I'm pretty sure when the next challenging time comes my way I will start yet another. And after a passage of time that one too will be set aside. But perhaps each has served their purpose for their specific time and place. And I think I'm good with that.


My altered books sometimes turn out to be a cross between an altered book, a journal, a scrapbook, quotations from whatever I'm reading, and a place to try new techniques. They are usually not beautiful and they certainly aren't planned ahead of time and so lack any theme or cohesiveness. I usually don't show them to anyone. I like to make them in old books that have absorbant paper and that would otherwise be going to paper recycling.


I have found a form of journal that I can keep up with, don't laugh--it's a calendar. I started doing my art over the calendar photos. I put in large letters or cut out images in the little squares. I will sketch some thing I saw only in small format. If I have more to say than space allows, I make a small accordion pull out. The best part of this kind of journal is I do pick it up every day.


I do a little journaling every day in my weather "journal". At the first of the year, I print a blank calendar with just enough room in the boxes for my daily scribbles. I write down the temps, the accumulated rain and other weather conditions for the day. I've been doing this for over 20 years. It's nice to be able to go back and see what kind of weather we've had here at the house on any certain day.

I also keep three design journals for ideas for my beadwork and related art. I will never die, I have too much work to do and more ideas keep coming. There are a few more journals hanging around just for conversational airings and mind clearings.


I make time for journaling when I travel. I keep meaning to journal while at home, but there always seems to be so many other things to do! When I'm traveling and have taken the time (and space in my luggage) for my few supplies, I feel guilty if I don't journal. When I arrive back home I'm so glad that I have those great little watercolor paintings that I remember having painted while looking out the window of the villa or through the shutters onto a canal in Venice on a rainy afternoon.


I keep a large sketchbook as my daily journal. When I take the time, I decorate the outside with art and it pleases me. But most of the time it's just a plain old sketchbook. I write nearly every morning while I enjoy a cup of coffee. In these pages go: problems I am trying to work out, to do lists, sketches of things that inspire me, ideas for newsletter issues and blog posts, dreams, concrete plans and pictures or programs that I want to save. Sometime I tear out the thinking and diagrams and put them in file folders for my work. It makes a chronicle of my life and I do go back for reference. I have MANY of them now as I've been writing a journal since my early twenties.

I also have a visual journal that is nearly full. This I use when I take Julianna Coles and other workshops. It's one of my large duct tape journals, and I love the texture of the cover as it's become softer over three or four years.

For anyone who's considering a journaling habit, I recommend an article by Christine Cox about her Workhorse Journal.


I've kept a diary off and on for 50 years, but it was often hard to stick to and there are great gaps when I quit writing. Since finding Visual Journaling five years ago, my journal is never far from me, often riding in the car, open, on the seat next to me. I work alone in my studio. It doesn't work for me to journal with friends. Often, doing a bit of work in my book is the first thing I do in the morning and the last thing I do at night.


I seem to always end up with my journals being studies in color first, with ideas inserted later. The entries are mostly thoughts and ideas I come up with to answer the question, "what's life all about". I tend to install my humor, maybe because I think life occasionally can be funny if you look at it in a certain way. I also like to write stories, and I take the subject of choice, for example, "Esther the sea fairy" and fill the journal with the plot. With this type of journal, my colors and drawings, etc. apply to the subject.


I am a sporadic journaler. I love the idea of journaling, and am in awe of those who can write (or make art) on a consistent basis in a consistent way. But, I prefer to dabble... trying lots of different things, and moving from project to project. My journals reflect this. Currently, I am working on a journal inspired by an Artfest workshop by Traci Bautista. It is made out of paper grocery bags, and filled with color and doodles. Love it. In the past I have made fabric/fiber journals, a gratitude journal, and about a year ago, I made a "Make a journal in a month." I am much better at starting projects than finishing them... so I found it very freeing to decide that a journal could be "done" by simply tearing out the rest of the pages! LOL


We'll be posting pictures of some of these much-loved journals soon, so keep visiting.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

My Personal Santos

The Santos project, a couple weeks ago some members of our group got together to make a Santos, but what turned out was a collaborative adventure.
Gaylin Lankin has been making beautiful Santos for some time and offered to share her ideas, Stephanie Brockway ran with the offer, organized us and made multiple wooden bases, Tory Brokenshire (me) developed a new Santos head and taught it to the gang. We worked at a furious rate at the 100 Monkeys Studio but were unable to complete our project. Steph went back to work and set us up for a finishing day at the beautiful Rabbit Hill Farm.
A beautiful grouping but up close they they are magnificent. Each one stands over 30" tall.

We started with the basics, wood and sand paper.

The heads are well worth the time spent, They all have their own personality.

Sharing thoughts and ideas is what makes this group of women so special. A quiet and wonderful experience happens every time we get together, each woman/artist wants the person next to them to be successful and happy with the piece they are working on, so quietly without thinking they make it happen without anyone ever knowing and they all do it.

And the details are started...

draping, pinning....

and sewing make our Santos everything we dreamed.
Most of the group with there own personal Santos, each one looks as if it has a story or thought to convey.

This is one of my Santos and on my blog you can see the others in detail as well as at Robin's blog and Paula's. If you would like to make one of your own Santos I will be teaching this workshop at Art and Soul Portland in Oct.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Felted Soap Tutorial

Gather just a few inexpensive materials to make a lovely personal bar of felted soap.

You will need ¼ oz of wool roving, a bar of soap and a nylon knee high stocking. I use Dove soap it has a nice scent and lasts a long time.

Step 1) Divide your wool into 4 equal parts. Step 2) Feather out each piece of wool so it is at least as wide as the soap is long.

Step 3) Wrap one piece of the wool firmly around the soap vertically, wrap the second piece around horizontally, repeat with the 3rd and 4th pieces of wool.

Step 4) Place soap in the toe of the nylon and twist the nylon gently.
Step 5) Hold the soap under warm running water and gently squeeze the water through to the soap, after you feel that the soap is saturated with water you can add water as needed. Do this for about 2 minutes gradually increasing the pressure. After the 2 minutes you can now start to rub, starting very gently again increasing pressure for 4 minutes, if you go to fast you will make folds in the wool and it will not look as nice. You will start to see bits of wool coming through the nylon, you are about done, pull the nylon back and peek at the soap to see if the wool has turned into fabric. You can remove the wool covered soap from the nylon at this point but if you think it needs a bit more work you can put it back in the nylon and continue to rub until it is felted to your satisfaction.
Step 6) Dry the felted soap by squeezing it in a dry hand towel, then place on a cookie cooling rack to dry over night.

Step 7) Package your soap in an attractive cello bag or tie a ribbon around it, you could even place it in a box. This little bar of felted soap makes a pretty nice gift.

After you master the soap you can move on to bigger projects like this fun little hat, modeled by my granddaughter Savannah.

*If you find a problem and need help please leave a comment and I will reply on the same comment page, have fun and make some felted soap.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Artist Profile--Darlene Veltman

This month we would like to introduce Portland Art Collective member--Darlene Veltman. As you can see, Darlene has a bright, playful style that she brings to her artwork.

1. What are the main mediums you use? What do you find satisfying about them?

I love to work with fabric, paper, beads, trims, and embellishments.

2. If someone were going to get started in those mediums, what suggestions would you give?

I love looking at magazines for inspiration. I like Art Quilting Studio, Sew Somerset and Quilting Arts magazines. If you buy a sewing machine…buy a good one. Buy good thread and fabrics.

3. A perfect art day would look like...

working in the studio all day with out interruptions.

4. Do you have dedicated studio space? Give a brief description of where you work.

I am very spoiled..I have a large basement all to myself that I have filled up with fabric, paper, books, magazines and workspaces. I have three rooms …rm #1 sewing, computer, library. Rm#2 cutting table , fabric, paper. Rm#3 painting table, paints, stamps, scrapbook and journal making supplies. That table is for messy work. The cutting table is for patternmaking and cutting out fabric. It stays clean.

5. Favorite place you've visited or lived?

Tokyo. I have been 5 times and can’t wait to go again. Every detail I see there inspires me in some way.

6. What inspires you (or are there recurring themes in your work)?

Flowers, fabric stores, vintage fabrics, my PAC buddies.

7. I still struggle with...

deadlines, and projects for other people. I like to just let the creative juices flow and not be hindered with deadlines.

8. I'd be lost without...

my camera, sewing machine, and fabric. They are my favorite things to play with.

9. Favorite dessert?

Ice cream with fresh fruit on top…but I won’t push away a cheesecake!

10. What's on the horizon?

I am going back to sewing more clothes…but will add Art to my clothes, make them unique and one of a kind. More quilts and journals…2010 I am making a small quilt a month and then journaling about what happened that month to me. Hopefully I will also sew up most of my fabric stacked to the ceiling in my studio…Room #2!

You can see more of Darlene's artwork on her blog.