Inspire Yourself to Life

halloween watermark

“Use your imagination not to scare yourself to death, but to inspire yourself to Life!”       Adele Brookman

This seemed appropriate advice for Halloween week!  The background is a lovely Citra Solv altered page, more orange in real life!  In the center is a very subtle pumpkin shape, so I used that to confine the words of Brookman.  Two ravens from my own digital collage sheet look on.  I tried out my new Signo Uniball black retractable bold point pen, and am very pleased with it…maybe it will be a good substitute for my favorite Scarlet Lime pen.

The ARTfull Planner


For years I have had various forms of planners. I like to make my own, or use ones that have ample place for lists and doodles and ideas.  I enjoy looking back through them years later because they are like a snapshot of that stage of my life.  I see sketches of ideas that came to fruition, and others that have been long forgotten.  Often the pages of schedules are intermingled with pages of journaling and drawing.  It is all part of living the creative life.  Over time, these planners have become more and more like an art journal. Recently, The Documented Life Project has popularized this notion of combining the necessity of organization and planning, with the creative release of an art journal.  The results have been beautifully done pages of life.  Throw in a bit of scrapbooking as well, and the idea of a smash book, not to mention some of Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages from her book The Artist’s Way, and you have created a wonderful keepsake of your year as you lived it.  It is definitely a merging of life, art, and faith into one fantastic journey, recorded in a beautiful and inspiring way.

Since everything is funner together, I am starting some local get togethers to work on our “ARTfull Planners”.   I will try to keep you online friends updated as we go.  I am leaving the choice of planner or book to do it in open, but I do have some recommendations!

  • a plain old journal with blank pages and heavyish pages will work fine.  You can paste in, or draw in your calendars.  I would usually paste in a printed monthly view from our school calendar, then draw in week-at-a-glance pages.  The ones I have pictured are plain ol’ blank Moleskin journals.  I like the ones with a Kraft cover because they are easy to paint on, but any will do.  I also love the handy back pocket in all of the Moleskin varieties that can hold tons of stuff waiting to get stuck into your planner.  Moleskins, and similar journals also come in a wide variety of paper choices.  You can get watercolor pages, grid pages, etc.  Just keep in mind, that the heavier the paper, the less pages.  If you don’t mind using multiple books in a year it’s not a problem, but if you want the whole year to fit in one book, consider the number of pages.  Because I am a heavy journaler,  I generally use one of these thinner books for a quarter, so I would need 4 separate books to get me through the year.  That can be a little inconvenient when planning months ahead.



  • While we are on the topic of Moleskins, another favorite that I use, and also recommended by The Documented Life Project, is the Moleskin Weekly Planner.  The thing I love about these is that they have all the days of the week on one side of the page, and a blank ruled page facing it. Perfect for organizing on the left, and list making, journaling, or arting (or all three!) on the right.  I use the 7.5 x 10 inch version because I like lots of space, but it is also available in a smaller size.  Both sizes are also available in 12 month and 18 month formats. I also like the extra little features like the back pocket, a ribbon marker, and an elastic band to hold it all together…nice as your book starts to thicken!  A little bonus of the Moleskin planner is that it comes with a cute little set of calendar stickers, although instead of “cocktails” and “seaside” I might prefer “laundry” and “pay bills”!

moleskin weekly blank



The disadvantages of the Moleskin Weekly are

1) the paper is quite thin.  If you do a lot of wet work you might want to consider something heavier with watercolor or mixed media pages.  I use tons of gesso and added paper to take care of this issue.

2) I don’t care for the months being at the beginning separated from the weeks.  I usually resolve that by using one of the blank pages each month  to add in a monthly calendar right with the weekly pages.  As you can see, I also like larger spaces for Saturday and Sunday, so I modify the day spaces as well.



Another arty option…paint in your month.  I used a tiny 1″ ink pad to quickly block in the date squares, then painted over.


For those who aren’t into planners, or need that much organization, blank wall calendars like these  are a great option.


Finally, I am pretty excited about the planner pages I designed to fit in my popular smash books.

smash books

I have both monthly and weekly pages available on my Etsy shop. They can be downloaded and printed over and over again on your choice of paper.  I found that a 9 x 12 piece of 90# watercolor paper goes through my printer, and works very nicely as planner pages.  They have a subtle gray background to allow ample opportunity for adding your own artwork!

monthly pages watermark

And an example of a decorated weekly page:

week decorated watermark


I like to decorated these while on a single sheet, then simply cut down the middle of the page, punch indicated holes and add to your favorite smash book.  I recommend the Tim Holtz binder punch.  It works perfectly for these pages.

Tim Holtz binder punch

The thing I love about this planner is that you can add in as many pages as you want in between for special lists, projects, etc.



I also offer some great accessories to use with whatever kind of planner you choose.  I have sticker sheets to use in you ARTfull Journal, and my little Peerless Watercolor cards are perfect to tuck into a pocket to always have along.

sticker sheets

peerless e1

What is your favorite planner?



Monday in Montana – trip journal part 5


After thoroughly enjoying all the fun little shops and restaurants in the town of Bozeman, we turned our attention to the surrounding area.  There are some wonderful easy hikes in the area, and one of our favorites was this one to Grotto Falls.  It was a rainy day, but that didn’t get in the road of enjoying the view.  I had previously prepared this page by pasting in some pattern tissue (another item in the stock of supplies I brought with me) and painting over it with a muted yellow.  I didn’t worry about smoothing out the wrinkles, because I liked the added texture.


I took a photo of my family with the beautiful falls in the background and decided to leave a full page for it. When I got the photo back though, I decided I wanted to tone down the distracting clothing everyone was wearing, so I painted rain coats on them.  I also did some other painting on the photo leaving the effect of not being sure whether this is a photo, or a painting.  On the facing page  I wrote all about the hike, including a little drawing of our lunch, and of the stacked stones we saw there.  If we missed getting a photo of something, no worries, I just sketched it in!


On another hike we took, I stopped at a beautiful spot by a stream instead of going on with the rest.  I enjoyed painting my version of it with a travel watercolor set I had with me.  The top of the right page has a torn tree line to add some interest to the page.


On our drive back, it started pouring rain. I took photos out of the windshield, which I replicated with moving washer blades.  The rear view mirror was made with a gum wrapper.  When you journal on the go it helps you be more creative with your materials!  I did have with me the letter stickers, and a few brads.


After the rain was over, we were treated to an absolutely gorgeous double rainbow.  Of course, it was nearly impossible to capture its full beauty.


And there you have another day or two from my travel journal.  How do you document your travels?


The Travel Journal continues….Montana Part 4


After leaving western South Dakota, and enjoying lots of novel scenery en route, we finally made it to Bozeman, Montana, where my daughter and her husband were living for the summer.  After the long hours of driving, we were so anxious to see them!  But since they hadn’t gotten off of work yet, we had to wait a bit in the driveway of the condo they were staying in….affording me the time to make a primitive painting of the scene.  Day 3 of our trip under our belt!

32-33 blog copy

The next several days we enjoyed in this fun town, and beautiful surrounding area.  I made a page of our favorite shops and restaurants that we found while exploring Bozeman.  I worked on my journal at the dining room table early in the morning before everyone else had gotten up.

In progress…


Finished page using old book pages (from a lovely old book purchased at The Trading Post…) and just two colors of paint and a black marker.  The tab is made from an old Monopoly game card, part of the stash of treasures that I brought with me.

34-35 blog copy

One of our favorite places was Sola Café, just around the corner from my daughter’s place.  After I loaded photos from my camera to my laptop, I sat at Sola and ordered pictures that would be ready when I got home.  I knew exactly what I would have to add into my journal at home so that I could leave places for them.


Another favorite stop was the Emerson Art Center.  Besides loads of great local artwork, I was enthralled with this old cigarette vending machine that had been turned into an artist trading card vending machine (sorry about the poor photo).  I would love for someone to set up one of these in my area!



Next time I will share pages on the beautiful area surrounding Bozeman!

Sunday Doodles….Psalm 145

Psalm 145


Today”s Scripture doodling was done with Moonlight and Souffle gel pens on black cardstock.  Trying to decide whether I should add a border or not.  What do you think?



Book Illustration

Newest Cover with Revisions LegendsRegulatos

Back early in the year, I was commissioned by local author Brad Chapin to illustrate a children’s book that he had written.  Since I had never illustrated a book before, it was quite a learning process. It was about creating artwork that instead of being the central focus, steps back to support the text.  Leaving large blank spots in each piece to accommodate future placement of the text was a new way of doing things!   There was a lot of collaboration and planning and throwing out ideas.  One of my favorite parts was hiding keys, and the word hope on each of the pages.  I can’t wait to sit down with my grandkids and find all the keys! The illustrations are done in mixed media, using a lot of Citra Solv altered papers, and Derwent Inktense pencils.  Forty or so illustrations later, it was completed and sent off to the publisher.  I am eagerly awaiting getting my hands on the final copy, now available here.

All in all it was a fun learning experience and Brad was a great author to work with.

Learn more about Brad Chapin and his work here.

My most used materials for this project:

citra solv page pack   Derwent Inktense

Citra Solv page pack available here.                                            Derwent Inktense pencils available here.

Life is a Marvel

Life is a marvel

“Life never becomes a habit to me. It’s always a marvel.”  Katherine Mansfield

And there is so very much to marvel at!

These flowers were inspired by Tamara Laporte in a recent Lifebook 2014 lesson.


Have a happy day of marveling at life, and the Giver of life!