Number Twenty-Nine : The Tutorial : Part Three, The Final Installment

Need to catch up with the previous two tutorials?

Click here for part 1.

Click here for part 2.


And now…on to part 3 here…

I use prismacolor soft core colored pencils to add details, add shading, add colors, augment and define.

I used at least ten different colors in a variety of shades, all over the face.


I smooshed a rough line of charcoal around the outside of her and sweep over it to blend it out.

The final step is to add the white highlights to her eyes, using acrylic paint and the end of a paint brush here.

The hair has a layer of metallic paint over it to add shimmer…you can’t really see that in the pictures too well.




Number Twenty-Nine: The Tutorial : Part 2

Remember Twenty-Nine?  Read part 1 of the tutorial here.


Here I put on a layer of flesh-colored paint.  It was thicker than I wanted, but I had to put it on fairly thickly because of the texture of the watercolor paper that she is on.  I do not always add flesh-colored paint, not at this stage, nor any other.

I am using higher quality artist paints at this point.


Now, a coat of red over her lips…and her hair…plus a little bit for shading.

I swear, there is a method of my madness.


A darker blue went on over the background…and then was spread around to add depth to the face.

And some white to add in some missing features, like the nose…I also tried to bring the whites back to the eyes a little bit.


I had to let her dry a bit before moving on…


Details pulled out with payne’s grey…


One color on one side…a different color on the other…blotches and splodges…

Two different colors on the hair…

A new background color…

Drying time…


More layers…new hair…new background…some white effects…

And dry…



A layer of a pale pink to bring all the underlayers together…


And then–so much for unification of layers…more layers added…


More layers…adding to the background some more….


Next a glaze…usually I just glaze the skin–the face, the neck…shoulders if they are there and not clothed…for Twenty-Nine, I glazed the entire piece…



And here I leave her to dry some more…

One more layering technique to go…well, mostly…

Stay tuned for the next tutorial in this series…






Number Twenty-Nine: The Tutorial : Part 1

Read about how this face, and her twenty-nine other sisters, were created and why here.

This is number twenty-nine.

These lovely ladies do not receive their names until the process is complete and I sign the work.

So, for this tutorial, she will be known as Number Twenty-Nine.

All of these girls were done in the same journal.  They are all 9 inches by 12 inches.  Every single girl has the same painting process.

This is the process I am sharing with you now.

She was drawn using a regular #2 pencil, one I grabbed off the floor where one of the kids had tossed it and forgotten it.  Yep.  Happens a lot here.  What can I say?

Using nothing more fancy than a large round brush and craft paint, I added color.

Sometimes I use pale vanilla white colors.  Other times I use blues, or even greens for the initial flesh tons.  This one is actually a nearly dried out antique gold.

I cover all areas of flesh.  Sometimes I even cover the eyes and the mouth.  Sometimes I leave the eyes alone and just cover the skin and mouth.  Sometimes I only cover one lip.

I do not mind if I stray outside of the lines.  Layers upon layers are yet to be added, so there is no problem.

Baseline hair color added.  Usually the hair color stays in the same color family by the end, but not always.

Now the lips…lips do not always match hair, but when the hair is pink, why fight it?

Eye color added.  Sometimes I paint the eyes the same color as the hair…or sometimes the same color as the lips.

I also take the eye color and use it to shade here and there around the face, the ear lobes.

Slowly building up those layers.

A random color thrown in for the background.  Backgrounds almost never stay the same color as they begin.

I do use some of the background color to shade various areas.

That is the beginning of Twenty-Nine.

What didn’t I do?  I didn’t fill in her pupils…sometimes I forget that.  It will get done later.

Sometimes I shade more with the colors I use.  I do keep the paint colors to as much of a minimum as I can.  I normally pull out four to six colors and use nothing but those.  Any color I use, I also use to add shading somewhere in the piece.

Until next time….




My Little Red Book


I made a video about this book, but it was a video interrupted…between dogs and children and timing, I didn’t feel as if I said everything I wanted to about this book–and about how deliriously happy this silly thing makes me.

It all started with Jeanne Oliver’s online class, The Journey Of Letting Go, Creating Beauty From Ashes.  I made a first coptic bound book based on week one’s instruction.  I actually enjoyed making it, even though the binding looked awful.  I didn’t think it was too bad for my first attempt at this sort of binding.  I decided I wanted to use washi tape to tape up the centers of every two-page spread…and to add washi tape randomly throughout the entire book.  Well, adding the washi tape to the center of every two-page spread …made my pages stick out past the covers along the long front side of the book.  Plus, the spine of the book was now a bunch of sticky backs of washi tape.  So I added a strip of pretty duck tape to the spine to cover all that sticky up…although I am proud of myself for making the book–it isn’t a book I want to carry around with me as a hallmark of my work or anything.  And yes, I am planning to use it…too-small covers and all…stained up closure ribbon and all.  I seem to have a knack for keeping my mistakes around and turning them into something not just usable, but something … nice, presentable and oft times fantastic by the end of things.  That’s what I plan to do with this journal.

Now, ever since I made what I guess I shall henceforth call the washi journal, it’s been bugging me.  I wanted to make a NICE coptic bound journal.  And…I wanted to use reclaimed book covers to do it.  I am not so sure why that became so important to me, but it did.  I found a lovely book from 1904 called Freckles at a local thrift store.   I wasn’t looking for anything in particular.  I just waited for a book to speak to me–and this one did–so I bought it.

I brought the book home–and looked it up online.  I have this weird thing that if I can find the ebook version for free (see link above–this is NOT an affiliate link), I download it so I can read it later.  Nope, I have no real desire to read that actual printed book–usually because I have a backlog of reading to do and it would take me forever to get around to reading a book–which would severely curtail my turning the book into something else.  So now I have the book on my kindle…and I felt fine taking the printed version apart.

I cut out the body of the book, which was already separating from the intact cover.  Two little slits down the inside of the book block and voila…cover on one side, intact pages on the other.  The book block I actually have on my desk at the moment.  I used the pages to sketch and doodle on–and I take notes on the pages.  I usually end up either using the pages as background bits (the pages with notes) in other pieces–or gluing the finished –and sometimes unfinished– works (sketches and doodles) into other journals to become parts of a different journal spread…or something.  Some of them have been glued down and are still waiting to be … brought into the pieces they ended up in.

I kept both covers attached to the spine for two weeks, sitting in my desk, while I pondered…do I just do a coptic binding, removing the spine and using each cover independently, or do I do a hidden binding and keep the very well connected covered intact…but, the whole I need to try the whole coptic binding thing again finally won out over doing a hidden binding.   (I would probably have done a modified pamphlet stitch binding for the hidden binding.)  Again, two slits with the blade (exacto knife, if you need to know) and the spine was severed from the covers.

I had measured my covers and decided that my paper needed to be significantly smaller than they were.  The covers measured 7 3/4 inches by 5 1/2 inches.  I decided to use 7 inch by 10 inch paper to create my signatures.  Canson XL mix media paper comes in a spiral notebook just this size, with 60 pages.  I already had one of these journals by Canson on hand–my toddler and I used to draw in it together–er…really my toddler mostly drew and colored in it.  He wanted to have an art journal like his sister and me, so I let him play.  At that time, I was working on bigger pages (11 inches x 14 inches mostly), so for me it wasn’t a big deal.  He used markers and soft pastels (from what I can tell now).  However, I didn’t want to use toddler artwork in this journal.  I wanted nice pristine pages.  I bought another Canson XL mix media journal in the proper size…and once I brought it home, began to remove the pages one at a time, removing the perforated bits that had held it in the journal to begin with.

About five pages into that process, I decided that I did indeed want to use the toddler artwork, so I pulled out the first sketched upon page…and found out it is significantly larger than the brand-new journal pages.  Why?  The perforated area on the older journal was much much closer to the actual page itself…whereas in the new journal the perforated part was much larger and there was less actual page left over after removing it from the journal.  There’s something that had never occurred to me before.  I had just assumed when you buy a 7 inch x 10 inch journal…all the pages are actually 7in x 10 in.  Now I know.

I set aside the brand new journal…and took up the old one.  I pried open the spiral binding and removed all the pages.  I removed the perforated sides by hand, a couple pages at a time.  Then, I folded each page in half, setting the crease with a bone folder.  I ended up with sixteen signatures of three pages each.  I could not do that again with a used journal if I tried.  I had already made plans for what to do if I had more or less pages left over–a signature with four pages instead of three–a signature with two pages instead of three…and I knew where I wanted to put them, relatively, inside the body of the book, because I didn’t want them to be either the first or the last signatures.  That’s just me.  In the long run, it wouldn’t have mattered where the signatures ended up.  It’s just how I like to balance things for myself.

My boyfriend made me a piercing cradle last year and I love this thing.  It makes piercing the signatures directly in the center of the creases so simple.

When sewing in your binding, I can see why some tutorials call for a rounded needle.  Taht would make things go much faster.  I had decided when I made the washi journal that the next journal I made  that I wanted to use some thicker, more heavy duty thread or twine.  I wanted to use hemp thread.  I am still entertained that the spool of ‘natural polished hemp’ twine that I bought was made in Romania.  It just tickles my sense of the romantic.

I have actual binding needles that I bought — but the eyes of these needles are pretty small.  I ended up, as I have for the past several journals that I have made, using my yarn needles to sew the binding.  These are needles with wide eyes and rounded tips.  The rounded tips are finger savers for me.  The very first journal I made, along with one of Effy Wild’s classes, had plenty of my blood on the pages from the needle I used to bind the thing with.  So that particular journal really does have my blood, sweat and tears in its pages.   I am very appreciative of the rounded needle tips.  Honestly.

Before I started to bind though, I took the sides of my book covers where I was piercing the holes for the binding and I covered both sides (front and back) with fabric duct tape to reinforce that area, as I was not planning to come in a full inch for the holes.  I really like the added security of those strips of tape.

I followed a tutorial online to make sure I got everything right…and I really enjoyed binding this book.  It was really so much fun.

After I had everything bound in, the binding didn’t look that bad either.  The only issue I had was when I made my piercing guide, I just eyeballed everything, so the top two holes were not exactly in the same place as the two bottom holes (I used a five hole binding).  Sometimes I would flip a signature over, which resulted in a wavy sort of binding, instead of a perfect chain right across all the way.  But it is not so off as to make me unhappy with the final results.

The hemp twine I used was brown, because that was what the store had…but as I was binding this thing, what I really wanted was red thread…so guess what…the next book–and oh yes, I am indeed planning another one–will be bound with red thread.  My plan for the next book is to use some cool computer type paper (8.5 inches x 11 inches, off white with lots of colorful speckles throughout the paper), and use the actual ‘official’ book binding needles that I have (and have never used because of the too small for me eyes) and create for myself an actual writing journal, not just an art journal.

After I finished the binding and was happy with my efforts, I opened the book upside down so that I had access to both outer covers.  I added a quick layer of gesso–because my duct tape is silver.  I had never really intended to keep the original cover.  I hadn’t really planned anything for the cover actually.  I figured I would gesso it out and do some mixed media who knows what to the covers.  As I was waiting for the gesso to dry, I saw this wrapping paper that my daughter had given me to use in my art.  The wrapping paper was red , with red reflective dots all over it.  I glued that down to the outer covers and folded the extra down onto the inside of the covers.  I then glued the first page and the last page to their respective inner covers…and that was that.  I left it to dry.

This book is so much fun to flip through.  Nearly all, but not quite, signature has a toddler design in it.  I am thinking that with this journal I won’t be taping the center of every two-page spread, just to see how that turns out.  The binding twine is fairly thick, compared to what I usually use (crochet thread)–so in the center of every signature, I have the twine to contend with–plus I have three places where I had to tie off the twine–at the very start of the process, at the very end of the process, and halfway through when I needed more twine to continue.

Now, I have a stack of these other journals, several done very thick, with fleece fabric covers, that I continue to eyeball now, thinking that maybe just maybe I can unbind them all and create coptic bound journals with them…just because…

It also struck me that I LOVE bind books…and I want to make MORE…I am t-h-i-s close to binding my own planner and hand-drawing the whole calendar and planner parts of it…I’ve been tossing that idea around for quite awhile.  Maybe what I need to focus on is … binding books to sell…maybe then I would be able to make enough books to keep that part of me thrilled and engaged…and still have space to make more…

We’ll have to see.  Right now, I think I will work on what I have on hand…but…if you want to commission me to build a book for you, email me and we’ll talk.


Something Cheerful

So… I am not sure how today’s piece will count as ‘art’ per se…but it sure was fun.

My daughter had this flower pen…you’ve seen them…it’s a regular pen, with a big ol’ flower sticking out of the top.  We go to one restaurant locally where that is the only kind of pen they have and my youngest loves these pens.

So, my daughter had this pen.  I am not sure where it came from, but she says someone gave it to her.  The pen itself has been kinda sucky.  It only writes halfway, when it feels like writing at all.  It;s a bit annoying to use most of the time.  But–it’s so cute.

I started to think about this pen…and about the sunflower pens from our favorite restaurant.  The restaurant uses big sunflowers on theirs.  My daughter’s pen has an exploded pale purple rose, with a ribbon around the base of the flower/top of the pen.

The more I thought about these pens, and the more I fought with my daughter’s pen–she gave it to me because it had ticked her off so much with its attitude–the more the idea of these pens charmed me to no end.

So–I did an internet search…diy flower pens…and tons of links popped up…I read through about 5 of them…and methods vary widely, believe it or not…some of them want you to not only pop the end cap off, they want you to remove the ink tube and trim that down as short as you can…for the record–I did not mess with the ink tube at all.

Please, if you do this, use caution and protect your surfaces.  Do not do as I did. My table has some random knife scratches in it now.  If I weren’t planning to refurbish the table in the future, I would have put down a cutting mat or something.

Take precautions when removing end caps and the like as well.  Make sure your eyes are protected.  And fingers.




silk flowers or whatever else you are sticking inside your pen

floral tape

glue of some sort (some articles said hot glue, others used school glue)

something to trim flowers to size

something to whack or cut the end caps off with

something to pry the remaining end cap out of the pen, if necessary

I took an old knife (we have more of those than we care to admit) and basically sawed and smacked the end caps/tops of the pens off.

The best thing I read was — it doesn’t matter how that end of the pen looks because it will be covered with floral tape. This is a good reminder because some of the end caps popped off and popped out without any issue…some I not only had a time whacking off the end…but I used tweezers to pry the end caps out of the body of the pen…and sometimes that did more damage than cutting the end of the pen off.

Cut your flowers to size, shorter than the barrel of your pen.  I used scissors to do this–the flowers have metal wires inside them, so don’t use good scissors for this.  Wire cutters may have done a better job all the way around–but I wasn’t going to threaten my own hands and fingers using them.

I took glue-all and lined the end of the pen with it (the end I prised the end caps out of).  I stuck a flower down the barrel, making sure the glue and the flower met.  There was plenty of room between the flower stem and the ink tube inside the barrel when I did this with my pens.  I made sure there was some glue on the outside of the pen barrel to help secure the floral tape–and in the event the glue at the top of the pen and the flower did not meet or didn’t form any sort of decent relationship, the glue on the outside of the pen under the floral tape helped seat that flower permanently.

I started wrapping the floral tape at the bottom of the flower, pulling the tape gently but firmly …and I wrapped the tape all the way down the barrel of the pen, covering all of the pen.  About 1/4 of an inch from the tip of the pen, I added a bit more glue to secure the floral tape at the bottom of the pen as well.


If there is glue inside the body of your pen–it’s ok…it will dry and no one will ever see it under the floral tape.

Sometimes when you push the flower into the body of the pen, the tip of the pen comes out the other end — you just pushed it loose.  Just push it back in, no problems.

Floral tape is sticky,  Just so you know.

If you finish wrapping your pen and notice you can still see some of the body of the pen–just add more tape where you see pen and wrap it around.  I had to do this a couple of times…and nope, I didn’t add glue then, but you can if you want to make sure it’s really secure.

Yes, when you are finished and if you feel the need you can stick your pen cap back on your pen (once all the glue is dry, of course).  My daughter swiped some of the pens I made and had to have a cap for every single one of them…and they all fit without an issue.

I used Bic cristal pens–because these are my favorite pens in the whole wide world, even more so than my fountain pen…

I found some cheap little flower bouquets on clearance at the store and those are what I used. Each bouquet, except for one, had six flowers–for some reason, one bouquet had five flowers.   I also found two cute little silk butterflies (not seen in the above picture) and used those.

For the butterflies…they are just on simple wires…I tried to twist the butterfly wires around the stem of the flower–but that was too much for the pen barrel, even though I did it pretty tightly.  So, I inserted the butterfly wire first, holding the butterfly up higher than I wanted it to be when the pen was done, stuck the flower into the pen, then adjusted the butterfly–after which I taped everything together with the floral tape.

I ended up with twenty-nine new flower pens.  After you get the end cap off the bottom of the pen, this is a really simple easy project,  My biggest issue was keeping the toddler’s fingers safe–and his eyes when things popped off and went flying.  He was not at all perturbed by any of it.  He in fact only wanted to watch…

I am keeping them in two separate jars–because they wouldn’t all fit in one jar.  Just an old jelly jar or two.  I did not add pretty stones or beans or rice or any of the other things any article that included a jar suggested–because if I added anything to these jars, it would not only end up all over my desk pretty quickly–but whatever was in the jars would be all over the house in the blink of an eye.  Come meet my toddler for a few minutes if you don’t believe me.  The boy has a powerful magic that means stuff goes everywhere in less than a second…seriously…it’s his ‘gift’.

You can dress up your jar.  Or decorate a can.  Or throw them in a pile of other things (like my daughter did).  Whatever makes you happy.

Now, why?  Why did I make these pens?  What am I planning to do with these pens?

Now, usually I prefer to write with Bic cristals, black ink mostly, but now and then I feel like blue.  I also have a few sets of the colored pens…pink ink, green ink, orange, ink, yada yada.  And I have some of the usual red pens as well, that were supposed to be for grading work and for making corrections.  I used unused pens I already had on hand–because when the annual school sales come along, I stock up on my favorite pens–and whatever else we might need.  (My daughter tells me that this year we need glue sticks…my toddler wants…glue and more construction paper.) I pulled out a bunch of pens, all different colors of ink.  And I made my flower pens.

Since I made these pens this past Sunday night, I have used them for: journalling, list making, snail mail, goal setting, note taking…and for just about anything else I needed a pen for…except for dating some of the work in my art journals–because I for some reason require a black pen when I do that and since I cannot really be sure what color pen I grab of the flower heads, I grab a plain old regular black pen so I am sure the ink will be black when I date my sketches.

Guess what–these pens are FUN to use.  It makes me happy to use them. The flowers here this year barely lasted at all, so we are almost entirely out of flowers to ooh and ahh over.  Even my thriving rose bush that is supposed to produce these beautiful vibrant pink blossoms…are so washed out by heat the flowers are a pale pinky white, more white than pink.

These pens are about reclaiming some of my old playfulness and spontaneity that I have lost over the past few years due to depression and babyhood and everything else.  That above all else it what these pens are for: reclaiming my playfulness, allowing my Inner Child to come out and twirl and play and have some fun.  That is the important thing right there.

I hope you enjoyed this really quick little ‘tutorial’.  If you have any questions, please feel free to email me or leave a comment here.


A Book Of My Own

So–we were at a thrift store, moseying around, when I saw this:




It was stuffed in a bin, under a bunch of stuff–but I saw wood–and pretty wood–so I dragged it out.

It is a beautiful wooden photograph book, I guess.  I am basing this on the “Camera” title.  I almost decided not to get this book because of that word ‘camera’ on it.

But then–I opened it up:


It has these beautiful thick brown pages.

Oh…yeah…it had to come home with me.

For the record, it was a dollar.

It has an inlaid wooden panel as the back and as the front.

It has two metal pin thingys holding everything together; you can see these on the cover.

And there is a leather strap covering the opening of the front cover–that strip on the left-hand side there in the photo above.  That is the only hinge this has.

Now, do keep in mind that only a couple of days before I found this journal, 21 Secrets Spring 2015 had come out.  I tend to watch all the videos first before diving in.

It tickled me to no end to find out there are twenty-one sheets of paper in this journal.  And up until a certain point watching the 21 Secrets workshops, I thought I may actually use this journal for that — but alas, no…I will need many more pages than merely twenty-one to really play with all of the wonderful and juicy workshops contained within the 21 Secrets cadre this time.

So–the journal sat here, waiting, as do so many things here, waiting for that right time.

Then…she did it…Connie opened up Painting The Feminine for registration.

Now, I cannot fully get across just how much I have wanted to take this class…for so so long…and now–I am all signed up and waiting…and yes, still working my way through Big...

Anyway–that ‘camera’ was still bothering me…until last night.

R and I had talked about sanding the letters off, prying them off, all sorts of things.  In the middle of the night, alone, while at least the youngest child slept, I decided to try my hand at removing the darn thing–

Ok, so I only broke three fingernails…and I have no fingernails to speak of at the moment anyway.  Then–I grabbed a butter knife.  Hey, in the middle of the night, when ya don’t want big dogs gallumping up and down the basement stairs with you to get tools as this will awaken the toddler in a moment–ya use what you can grab easily…and what you don’t mind messing up, pretty much.

So–the butter knife actually worked–kinda.  That word was glued down really well…but with the right pressure, the wooden bits of the letters cracked and flew off.  However, after removing that finally a from camera…I saw too clearly that I could prise off the rest of the word…and the image of that word would remain etched beneath it…

At which point I put the butter knife down, no worse for wear after my abuse.

I tried to sand out my little bumps and messes from using said butter knife…the sanding was FAR worse than anything I did with the butter knife…

Which made me just say, screw this.  Why am I fighting so hard to keep a word and an image I am not that into…when what is really important will be what is inside the journal?  I am not ruining the wood, or the book itself…

So–I grabbed some spackle and some gel medium — I have a TON of gloss medium –and I have learned to mix it with the spackle or joint compound to adhere background papers as it adds some nice texture and still allows the papers to be seen underneath (depending upon how thickly you slather that stuff on)–and it adds a lot of depth if you tint the mixture a bit before using it to adhere collage bits down…

I took this beautiful background I had created from a reclaimed unfinished piece (goodbye whale from last year…) — I cut it down to fit my journal (the pages inside the journal are roughly ten inches by eight inches).

I smeared my spackle/gel medium mixture out all over the cover (after making sure the rest of the journal was covered and protected with paper towels) –I made a mostly even coat across the front, stopping at the edge of the leather hinge so I wouldn’t mess that up.

I pressed my paper into that mix, making sure everything was lined up and pretty…and gently began to press down.  I started with the edges, because, really, for me making sure the edges were securely adhered and down is the most important thing.  Every time some of the gluey mess ooked out along the edges, I quickly wiped it off with a barely damp paper towel.

I then began pressing all over the center and inner edges of that page, moving the adhesive all around, still being careful and wiping up anything that spewed out anywhere.

Once I was certain that 1 everything was pressed together as well and as firmly as possible and 2 nothing else would come squidging out along the edges…I removed all the paper towel except the one right under the cover (just in case).

I put the journal freshly glued side down on a piece of deli paper on the table.  I put a couple books, and my hole punch (because it was right there) on top–and then I checked to make sure that nothing had leaked out along any of the edges one last time.

That I left overnight to dry.

In the morning, it was mostly dry –not completely cured.  If you run your fingers along the top of the decorative page, the adhesive underneath moves around a bit.  So–it needs a day or two to completely cure out.

That did not stop me from using Krylon triple thick clear glaze to seal that top page this morning.  I know that book is going to take a beating, so I want the piece on top sealed and sealed well.

And speaking of that cover decorative piece…it was a dimensional piece to begin with.

Originally it was a mixed media piece, with collage and all sorts of things.  Then when I reclaimed it (and her three sisters–there were four whales waiting to be finished from last year’s LifeBook)–I used the same sort of mix with which I adhered it to my journal cover.

I took joint compound and gel medium (roughly 50/50 when I do this), added a little bit of acrylic paint to tint it…and used that to add more collage and a whole bunch of texture to the page.  After that was dry, I would add paint or whatever whenever I had a full brush I needed to clean or leftover paints from other project.  I would smear all four reclaimed pieces with whatever I had on hand.  I had intended to use them as backgrounds for other pieces…

What I truly love about this particular page–and why I choose this one out of the four that I had on-hand–it there is plenty of the original turquoisey blue still visible…and now, when you get up close to it, you can see bits and hints of the original collage elements, like the musical score bits.

So this is now the Heart Of the Whale journal…

Maybe I will even find my seal skin in it.