Susan’s Art

Art Show Update

Last Thursday I challenged you to share something good about yourself. It was wonderfully inspiring to see people respond to the challenge. I encourage you do it again this week, tell me something good about yourself, or if you still find that too difficult, how about this, tell me something good about a friend of yours. Pick  just one  friend and tell me all the wonderful things you love about that friend. We can do another friend next week.

I want to tell you about my friend Laura Salas. If you don’t know Laura’s books or poetry, you should. Her website is full of kinds of all fun stuff as is her blog. I met Laura years ago in an online critique group and while we have only had the pleasure of being in person together twice (once at the Chautauqua conference and once at KidLit con) we have maintained our friendship via emails and Skype calls. She’s an awesome cheerleader to have on your team and terrific critiquer as well. If you already know Laura, you know of her generous heart and unending support of poetry. She wants poetry to be easy and accessible for everyone and she works hard to make that happen. For the past, shoot, four or five years (Laura, help me remember here) she has done a Thursday poetry exercise called Poems of 15 Words or Less. Every Thursday she posts a photograph and invites people to share their poetic responses in the comments. The only catch is that it has to be 15 words or less.

I can’t believe how long she has been doing this and that every single Thursday, she comes up with something to say about the photo she posts. I have participated on and off but I confess, sometimes the pictures don’t inspire me and I just have to let it go. But for a while there I was doing the 15 Words or Less on a pretty regular basis. I saved the photos to my computer, along with my poems, knowing I didn’t want to lose my words but I didn’t know what else I might do with them.

Then I started art journaling and I knew that my collection of 15 Words or less poems would be perfect in an art journal. I had so much fun creating art pages and then adding Laura’s photos and my words. I ended up with a lovely fat book that still surprises me when I turn the pages.

But the story doesn’t end there. As some of you who follow me on Facebook might know, last night I participated in my first art show. One of the pieces on display was my Laura Salas inspired Art Journal! I can’t even put into words the thrill of standing at one end of the gallery and peeking down toward the other end and watching complete strangers flipping the pages, nodding their head at something they read.

Thank you, Laura, for the idea of 15 Words or Less inspiration, for the dedication to keeping it going, week after week after week (even when life is trying its best to beat you up) and for being the wonderfully supportive friend that you are.

I had eight other pieces in the show as well, from a series called “Notes From a Life”. I’ve included a few pages from the art journal and the individual pieces in the photos below. And it looks like I may have already sold my first piece.

Click on any photo to see it larger.

Your turn, tell me something wonderful about a friend of yours.

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Thursday, March 1, 2012|Categories: Susan's Art|Tags: , |20 Comments

D for Done – 15 words or less art journal

I’ve been working steadily on my 15 Words or Less art journal and think I can mark it pretty much D for Done. It was a great learning experience for me on how to use various paints and inks, how to make textures, and how to add layers. I don’t love every page but I like them all and love a lot of them. The handwriting bugs me the most but not enough to paint over it and start again. 🙂 It’s a learning journal, not a piece of museum art. A lot like an early draft of novel.

I’ve posted a few of my favorites here. You can click on the picture to see the larger versions or go here to see the entire album on Flickr.









Monday, June 13, 2011|Categories: Susan's Art|Tags: , , |10 Comments

Recent artsy things/ sharing your work

Last week I shared some backgrounds I was working on for my 15 Words or less art journal.  I have some of the pages finished or close to finished. Art, like writing, is a constant learning process. There are some things I really like about each of these pages and some things I don’t. There are sections I look at and feel, mostly in my gut, that something isn’t working but I don’t know what. Like I said, it’s all a learning process. If you’re interested in more detail you can click on the picture to see it larger.

I would have liked to do make the pictures move more to the back of the page, like with an image transfer, but I don’t have the energy to do 50 image transfers for this book. So I’m concentrating one trying to blend them in effectively. It works better on some than on others. I wish I had paid more attention to the sizes of the photos before I printed them out but it was another good learning process for me.

I like sharing this in various stages and even if they are less than “finished” because it helps me feel better overall about putting myself out. Not everything I write or make is going to be terrific or appeal to everyone and that’s okay. I started with a watercolor book, painted the pages with various Golden Fluid acrylics. Collaged the pictures and various papers, added more color with my Neocolor II, Portfolio Oil Pastels and walnut inks. I love using the walnut inks but they take DAYS to dry. Grrr. Even with using a blow dryer on the page. I use the Sharpie Poster Paint water-based pens to write on all the pages.

Right now with art I think I am stronger in colors that I believe I am. I think my weak point is composition. I hate my handwriting (doesn’t everyone?) but I wanted the handwritten connection to the words here since this are all poetry warm-up exercises. Nothing to be written in gold or carved in stone or worried about.  posts a picture on Thursdays and those who want to play along, write a poem of 15 words or less. It’s a nice way to warm up the writing muscles for the day. I printed out the photos she posted on the days I’ve participated (so far). I may take some of these “warm-ups” and work on them more. Or not. I may take some of the pages and work on them more. Or not. 🙂






Such is the creative process.

Working on these pages is such good thinking time for my writing.

What kind of art making is feeding your soul these days?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011|Categories: Susan's Art|Tags: , |20 Comments

What does hope mean to you?

I just got my sketchbook for The Sketchbook Project. It’s both exciting and intimidating at the same time. But mostly exciting.

I chose the theme of HOPE and am starting to play around with ideas of how to utilize it in the sketchbook. I may combine poetry and art. Or maybe not. But I’m curious, when you hear the word hope, what do you think? See? Feel?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011|Categories: Susan's Art|Tags: |7 Comments

New art journal backgrounds waiting for words

I decided to make an art journal of all the poems I wrote for Laura’s 15 Words or Less poetry exercise she does every Thursday. I downloaded all the pictures for any of the photo prompts I wrote a poem for. They’re all printed out and waiting to go on the pages. Today I finally finished all the backgrounds in the journal. These are a few of my favorites. Now it’s time to start phase 2, collaging the photos and adding the poems.

Thursday, June 2, 2011|Categories: Susan's Art|Tags: , |12 Comments

Another journal page about my dad

145, originally uploaded by susanwrites.

See the full album on Flickr.

Thursday, March 4, 2010|Categories: Susan's Art|Tags: |5 Comments

More art journal

102, originally uploaded by susanwrites.

I just added a bunch of pages to my art journal so please forgive a few postings here on my blog.

See the full album on Flickrl.

Thursday, March 4, 2010|Categories: Susan's Art|Tags: |0 Comments

Another art journal page

47, originally uploaded by susanwrites.

See the full album on Flickr.

Thursday, March 4, 2010|Categories: Susan's Art|Tags: |1 Comment

More art journal entries

56, originally uploaded by susanwrites.

This is just one of a bunch of other art journal entries I added over on Flickr. I won’t post them all here on my blog but you can
click through to see them all.

Thursday, February 4, 2010|Categories: Susan's Art|Tags: |6 Comments


5, originally uploaded by susanwrites.

Today’s art journal entry.

Thursday, January 21, 2010|Categories: Susan's Art|Tags: , |7 Comments


1, originally uploaded by susanwrites.

Added a couple new pages to the Flickr album.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010|Categories: Susan's Art|Tags: , |0 Comments

More art journal entries

14, originally uploaded by susanwrites.

I won’t post every art journal entry from my class here in my blog because that would be overkill. But if you want to see what I’ve done so far, you click over for the full album. Only a few so far but by the time I get done with the class there will be 180 pages.
See the rest of the album.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010|Categories: Susan's Art|Tags: |10 Comments

My vision for 2010

Some people do resolutions or pick a word for the year or maybe a theme or a theme song. Since I am playing with art now I decided to go one step beyond my vision board I created and try a vision journal, well, what I am calling visual affirmations.

You know, I could have really picked an easier first art journal project. But this was a good way for me to learn about the various materials, what I like and don’t like about the different ones and just try things out. I learned a lot in the process. Like backgrounds for these things are hard for me. Mine kept going dark which wasn’t the look I wanted and made it hard to paint over it with anything but black or my trusty white watercolor pencil. I learned there’s a reason that Golden gel medium is the most popular and am only going to use the other brands I have as glue, not top coat. I learned that you can write on mulberry paper with a Sharpie but not a watercolor marker. Oops. I learned that sometimes the vision in your head for a page never quite makes it down on the page in the same way. (hmmm…that sounds a lot like writing.) I learned that I can think outside the box but that it doesn’t come easily for me. (Which means, of course, I just need to do more of it.) I learned that I am not a natural doodler and those little swirly things that look so simple and easy AREN’T! There are some pages I like a lot and some that are just so so but I love the book as a whole.

My intention is to keep it next to my bed and look through each night before bed and first thing each morning. I learned a lot about myself as I worked on the book, thinking about the pictures and words I chose and why they had meaning for me. By the time I got to the end, I had my theme for 2010 worked out. For years my friends and family tell me how talented I am, how wonderful I am, how much I am loved but when it goes through the translator in my head, the message gets screwed up. I want to stop that. I want to align the person I see in the mirror with the person the rest of the world sees.

I want to see the me that everyone else in the world sees. So that’s my theme for the year 2010. Here are the pages from the journal. You can click through to see the larger ones or go to my Flickr page and see the whole album in a larger size.

Edited to add: based on the wise advice of my dear friend Eileen aka [info]hulabunny I am going back through these pictures to tell you something I love about each one.

                                                               From Vision Journal

Front cover. I picked these pictures for the front because they all make me feel happy about myself. I can remember where I was and what I was doing when each of these was taken and I can recover those wonderful feelings by looking at the pictures. I love the way the border came out here.

From Vision Journal

Torn paper collage that was too glossy. I was going for a mountain but it came out too much like a triangle. Tissue paper over the torn paper to tone down the glossy. I had so much fun doing the torn paper collage and I love the row of pics of me down each side border.

From Vision Journal

I really wanted to try the punchiella effect but didn’t have any of that kind of paper yet. So I found a mesh bag that had garlic in it and colored on it with the watercolors then stamped the page. I love how that turned out. I also challenged myself to use a color I don’t normally go toward, a peach, and ended up loving it.

From Vision Journal

I was really happy with the border on this page.

From Vision Journal

I adore this page. Love the colors. Love the mesh of beautiful things. One of my favorite pages.

From Vision Journal

I love my zentangle on this page. It’s a fun and easy one to do.

From Vision Journal

This page looked so different in my head. 🙂 I love being surrounded by the word CONTENT. This was an experiment in printing on tracing paper. I love the transparent effect without having to wait to do a transfer technique.

From Vision Journal

I like the placement of the food on these pages, especially the one on the right.

From Vision Journal

I adore this page. I love the words on the left and I love the me peekint out from behind the plants.

From Vision Journal

On this page I love the pens pointing to the typing fingers. It came out just like I hoped it would.

From Vision Journal

I love this page! At first it was just a place to play with my new stamps and I figured if I didn’t like the look I could just paint over them. Then I went looking for images that spoke to me and it all came together.

From Vision Journal

Although you might not see the detail, the big heart is all torn paper and I love it. It adds a depth and strength to the heart, much like my marriage adds to my life.

From Vision Journal

This page makes me smile.

From Vision Journal

I had fun with this page.

From Vision Journal

I love the kind of hazy feeling this page has.

From Vision Journal

The energy on this page makes me feel happy, like the way you feel after a good workout.

From Vision Journal

Another favorite page of mine. I love the hummingbird. I love the dog fairy. I love the wishbone "hat"

From Vision Journal

I love the intentions on this page and the way the yellow outlines call attention to the words.

From Vision Journal

This page absolutely captures how I feel about my marriage and how it has enriched my life. I love the quote from Pat Schneider that says, "You can write as powerfully as you want, if you feel safe enough." My marriage has made me feel safe enough to write to the depths of my emotions. I love the wings on the girl jumping.

From Vision Journal

I love seeing all the smiling faces of my friends staring back at me here.

From Vision Journal

I love the crowns…and what you can’t see well in the picture is that the pic of me, on the page on the right at the top of the page, has a little bit of clear glitter around it, as though I have that reflection bouncing back from the world.

From Vision Journal

Back cover. I love how the border came out….amazing what you can do with the letter "C"

Sunday, January 3, 2010|Categories: Susan's Art|Tags: , |35 Comments

Saturday Six – the art journal edition

Friday was all about Poetry so I’m trying a Saturday Six – art journal edition.

I am a very impatient art person. This shouldn’t surprise anyone who knows me because I’m impatient about everything. I also have an obsessive personality which means when I’m learning something new like this I need to dive into the deep end, totally immerse myself in all sorts of knowledge, and then begin. I’ve been watching tons of YouTube videos.

1. The prep. All the early stuff I read said to Gesso the pages of the art journal before doing anything. I did that on a few pages and I have to say I hate it. Okay, maybe hate is strong but I don’t like it. I really don’t like the way it feels. I know it’s supposed to strengthen the page and absorb the water but what I see happening is that paper disappears and I realize that the reason I am drawn to collage is because it is all about the paper. And the appeal of an art journal for someone who doesn’t draw is again, about playing with paper via collage. I will try a few more pages with Gesso but so far, not a fan. But on YouTube there was a video of this person who did their page with no Gesso and instead just built up the page with a layer of paper and then painted over it. Aha! I thought I had landed on the perfect path for me. It was a great way to use up parts of the magazine I was going to throw away. I loved doing the paper base layer but then when it came time to paint over it, guess what? The texture of paper changed again. Well duh! I don’t know what I was thinking, that I could do all these things to paper and it would still feel like paper. So I can see me using both, Gesso when I want a plain background in a hurry and the paper buildup when I want words or whatever is on the paper to show up through the paint or when I am going to apply a thick layer of paint anyway.  I am a very textured oriented person. VERY. So I am really having a hard time with the way the paper changes textures by putting Gesso or paint on it. A really hard time.

2. The paper. In the collage class we have access to some of the most beautiful decorative and handmade papers but those don’t work for the base of the art journal. Since I knew I was going to experiment with the various materials and backgrounds I’ve been using mostly journals I had on hand. I had some sketchbooks (not that I sketched but because I liked the way they felt) and some normal journals with thin pages (I’ve been Gessoning over them)  but I bought two watercolor journals for specific projects and can already see the appeal of those thick pages. Last night I learned about the difference between hot press and cold press pages and realized all I have is cold press. Now I’m on the search for a hot press watercolor book that is spiral bound. (For those, like me, that didn’t know the difference, hot press is smoother paper and cold press is more textured.)

3. Adhesives. Who knew there were so many things to think about with glue?I have three jars of Modge Podge that I don’t think will ever be used because of a fear of tackiness and there’s no way I am sealing every page. Perhaps I’ll find some other 3D object to decoupage that I won’t mind sealing. I bought a couple different kinds of matte medium to try, Golden and Liqutex. I also have a stack of glue sticks from projects I do with kids in the classroom. I tried the glue sticks on the vision board and it probably would have worked okay if I had worked differently, maybe on a small scale. I really like the Golden matte medium and the verdict is still out on the Liqutex since I haven’t tried it yet. One thing for sure, whatever I use, I am going to go through a lot of it. Wow! And I mean a LOT! 3. Tools. Brushes and sponges. Ugh. I hate when the hairs of the brush come loose in the paint or the matte medium. I imagine the expensive brushes don’t do that but I can’t rationalize expensive brushes at this stage of the game.

4. Paint. I bought lots of different art supplies so I could play around with the various things and see what I liked best. I figured backgrounds would be a good place to practice and see what I like best. I have acrylics, watercolors in a box, watercolor pencils and water soluble oil pastels. I love painting with acrylic because it feels like painting. I like the way the brush glides through the creamy paint. But I discovered that straight acrylics dry fast. Like two brush strokes and you’re done, which doesn’t work for backgrounds. Love doing an acrylic wash. I like coloring a page with the water soluble oil pastels but I don’t like the way it looks when I add water. I do like these for adding a touch of color on top of something else. I prefer rubbing this color in rather than adding water. I haven’t done a lot with watercolor pencils yet because I’m working on backgrounds and they aren’t the best way to color a large surface but the little I have played with, I like. I don’t have regular watercolor crayons, just the oil ones, so I don’t know what they would be like but perhaps better? I have only played a little with the watercolors in the box and due to operator error. I have now watched a few more videos on watercolors and feel like I can try again.

5. Design. So many writers tell me they think in pictures, they see their story play out in front of them as if watching a play. I’ve never seen pictures in my stories. I’ve never “watched” my story unfold. I hear voices. Only voices. So this whole “picture” thing has me stymied. How hard could it be to make a background for a page? How badly could you screw up putting a few colors down and smooshing them around? A lot, apparently. I don’t have an eye for this sort of thing. I gorged myself on visiting websites of people who shared photos of their art journals. I oohed and ahhed and then went over and, well, painted a lot of crappy backgrounds. But that’s okay. My new friend Gesso can fix all that. But seriously, I didn’t think it would be that hard to do a background for a page but after doing 12 of them I hate them all. Yes, all! The only think I could think of was covering it all up again with more collage. I think the next ones will be just solid color washes, nothing fancy.

6. The journal. Oddly enough, I am not thinking of doing this journals for actual writing. I do a lot of actual writing else (like on this blog) and I know that the texture of painted or Gessoed pages would feel like fingernails on the chalkboard to me. I think for journals that I plan to write more than a line or two in I will have to stick with water color pages that will feel like real paper when I write in them. But I hope to make art a part of my life and to use it to explore myself and the world around me.

Saturday, December 19, 2009|Categories: Susan's Art|Tags: |4 Comments

Friday Five – The Art Edition

There’s so much to say I could do two editions but I think I will focus on art today.

1. I’ve now gone to three sessions of what I am going to call art workshop though our fearless leader Lori Krein bills it as a collage class. It’s exactly what I needed, a slightly structured, caring and nurturing artistic environment. The group is small, I think there are seven of us, just about right for introverted me. We come to class to work on a variety of collage, decoupage or assemblage projects. I am almost finished with my first landscape. (My art leader Lori has an assemblage in this art contest sponsored by Michael’s. She’s trying to win a trip to New York. Maybe you could help her out by voting? Thanks!)

2. At the retreat I went to last month I talked to my friend Deborah Nourse Lattimore (who is a brilliant artist by the way) about introducing art into my life. This was before I found the collage class. She stressed the importance of playing with art without trying to “make” art. Play is hard for me. I’ve never been very good at it. But I am trying. And I know the art play will help my writing play. I think I love collage because it reminds me of playing in mud. I don’t want to wear gloves – I want to feel the matte medium sliding between my fingers. It makes me feel like a little kid again. And now, everywhere I go, I look at things as a potential canvas, or potential items to use for an assemblage. I used to collect odds and ends like this before, rocks and twigs and pieces of nature that intrigued me. I saved them and saved them and then suddenly, they were gone. I think I had been saving with the intent of having “enough” to do something “perfect” and when I realized that would never happen, I threw them all away. So I am collecting again but hopefully with a different attitude.

3. I’ve been reorganizing the old craft supplies I have and buying a few new ones, like my first set of watercolor pencils and watercolor crayons, a bottle of Gesso, some acrylic paint (yikes) and even a couple of big canvases (only because they were on sale). Most of that is for some ideas I have on creative art journals. Some people do a vision board, I am doing a vision journal, or perhaps a series of small vision boards for various aspects of my life. I got the big canvases so I can try my hand at some larger collage landscapes at home. I’ve been looking at the handmade paper on this site, trying to narrow the purchase down to a reasonable amount. Ha! I’ve also been going through my stash of magazines again. I do this a lot anyway, usually cutting out words to use when teaching poetry classes, but now I’ve added a stack of words just for me and pictures that speak to me that I might want to journal.

4. has blogged a lot lately about the creative journaling that she is doing. She turned me on to a wonderful video that I think is worth a watch if you are a newbie considering such a project. (The woman in the video has an extensive website and series of YouTube videos.) And Shrinking Violets is talking about creating visions for your coming year too.

5. What does all this have to do with writing? So much more than I can put into a Friday Five. I have lived too much of my life bound by constraints of what I shouldn’t do, what I was or wasn’t good at, what was expected of me. A constrained life can lead to constrained writing. If playing with art can free me to play with words, it is worth it at just about any price.

The biggest lesson for me to learn is that art is not math. There is no right answer. If I can learn this in art I hope to apply it to my writing.

Friday, December 11, 2009|Categories: Susan's Art|Tags: , |8 Comments