Upcycled Valentine boxes


I had the foresight to snatch these small heart boxes that had been full of chocolates from the recycling bin once Valentine’s Day had come and gone. For the next Valentine’s Day, we gave small gifts (like pretty socks) in those same boxes that I had given a new look.


The process was a simple one.  I covered the bottom with a piece of scrapbook paper cut to match.


For the lid, I used torn bits of papers to cover the entire lid, then lightly brushed on some paint.


Then I cut out the word “love” from a sticky back sheet of craft foam and stuck it to a second piece to create an inexpensive and personal stamp.


I used this to stamp the lid of the painted box for a final touch.

10 11

I also made sure I gave the sides some attention as well.


I finished off three of these as wonderful gift boxes!


So, save those chocolate boxes…or maybe even find some marked down ones after Valentine’s Day.  I have some ideas for filling my next ones…but I can’t give it away just yet!

Happy Birthday Kansas!


Kansas entered the Union as the 34th state on January 29, 1861, 100 years and some months before I was born.  It is celebrating its 154th birthday today.

I love my state.  It often gets kind of a bum rap as a boring place.  I will grant you that it does not have the dramatic scenery of say, Colorado’s rugged mountains, or the sweeping beaches of Florida, or the majestic forests of California, but give me Kansas any day.  The others are great places to visit, but Kansas is a great place to LIVE. I love the prairie colors, the majestic sunrises and sunsets, the deep green and then golden fields, and the truly spectacular night skies.  And of course, there are also the people.  Farmers, entrepreneurs, small town business owners and workers.  A stable, hearty sort of people who would give you an arm if you needed it.

Here are some of my favorite images, in no particular order. Just enjoy the sampling of beauty Kansas style!

010 (1) IMG_2456 IMG_3834 IMG_3839 copy chicken IMG_20140204_091353 IMG_4566 IMG_3899 IMG_3851 IMG_3849 IMG_4270

J.R.R. Tolkien, Artist and Illustrator

“A single dream is more powerful than a thousand realities.”  J.R.R. Tolkien


Did you know that J.R.R. Tolkien was a visual artist as well as a gifted writer?  I just recently stumbled on this book full of his artwork and sketches from his childhood until his death.  I love the cover!

Available here.

Journal Pompt – Black and White


Today’s journal prompt comes straight from my sketchbook. We all love loads of color, but once in awhile it is refreshing to deal only in black and white…as well as being handy when all you have is a pen and paper.  On this page, I really played up the contrast to communicate those times when we have trouble making a decision.  What are some other areas of contrast in your life?  How do you pull it all together?


And for those of you stumped on yesterday’s ambigram post, the image says “inside” and when you turn it the other way read only the part that has burst through the wall….”out”. Inside out. Can you see it now?

inside out BW

inside out BW copy (1)


Ambigram Fun

inside out BW

A few years ago I developed a fascination with ambigrams, words that can be read either direction. I love the meaning that they can imply just through their direction.  I browsed a lot of really outstanding works online (tattoo artists have some really great ones) before I tried my hand at it. Mine are rather primitive in comparison, but are still a lot of fun to do.  A good brain exercise!

Some of them read the same no matter which way you turn them, for example, the word “family”.  A family is a family no matter which way you turn it, even if some disaster turns it on its head.

ambigram - family copy

Since I don’t have the technological know how to make a spinning image, I have put them side ways.  Tilt your head to the right to read the words, then try to the left.  I found that the more ornate letters are more easily transformed because you don’t really question the extra embellishments that become a different letter turned the other way around.


I like the word blessings because they go both directions….we bless others, and we in turn are blessed.  God showers us with blessings and we share those blessings.  Blessings happens to be an easy word to make an ambigram with as well with those double s’s in the middle.  Other words are much harder.

I also like words that change when you read the other direction, like this saint and sinner.

ambigram - my sinner to saint

I was so determined to make this alpha and omega work, but it was obviously not one of those easy words I talked about!

alpha and omega side

And this one is really hard to read, but I thought it looked cool.

inside out BW copy

Can you figure it out?  Here is a hint: read it with your head tilted to the left first, and then to the right. Still can’t figure it out?  Check back tomorrow for the answer!



Sunday Doodles – Exodus 3:8

Exodus 3.8 color

Today I enjoyed a little peaceful time in my studio, ignoring deadlines for a bit, playing with my watercolors on the design I had drawn as a coloring page for today’s church service. There is something calm and meditative about coloring in an already drawn design….or maybe it is just rediscovering the childhood joy of a new coloring book!

Would you like to join me?  Feel free to print out this coloring page and do some of your own coloring!

Exodus 3.8 copy

Hope you have a wonderful start to this new week!

Ink Wash technique for the Art Journal


I do lots of note taking, or what I call “journal dumping”. It is helpful for me to write at the time, but is not necessarily something I need to keep, or refer back to.  Yet, there is something so appealing about a handwritten page that I always try to find ways to use them rather than trash them.  Private musings can be cut up in tiny pieces and used in a collage. Harmless rambles can become a beautiful background.  Best of all, pieces like this hold so much meaning.  From pain to beauty, or from meaningless to meaningful. It is the redemption of our words through our art.


Today, I am sharing a very simple technique to alter a handwritten page with just a few very simple tools.  For this page, I used a Strathmore gray toned 9 x 12 sketchbook, but any paper that can hold up to water would do.  I wrote on it with a Varsity disposable fountain pen, one of my favorites for writing, and great for this technique because the ink really reacts with water well. A helpful habit to get into is to entirely fill your page with writing.  Your page will be much more useful if you don’t leave margins, or white space where a new paragraph is started.  I sometimes even add a squiggle to finish out a line when there is not enough space left for a word.  I change topics, even days I am writing seamlessly so I end up with one beautiful block of writing.


Once your page is filled, you are ready for fun.  I wrote in a 9 x 12 journal, so a full page size stencil worked perfectly!  Choose a stencil without a super precise pattern, geometrics are not the best suited for this technique. Lay the stencil over the page, and use a wet paint brush through it.  Be carefully to not be too soppy, a little of the watery ink running under the edge is okay, but you don’t want to much!



Carefully lift away the stencil, and you have a beautiful, wordy, watercolor!




Leave as is, or cut out the face to add to a different background!  Didn’t turn out so good? No worries, just cut it up and use it as some delightful collage paper!