Saturday, April 30, 2011

Halfway through Art & Soul

Art & Soul - Hampton started Thursday, so we're halfway through and the time is just flying!  I am having SOOOOO much fun!  Thursday I took a class called "Fluid Romance" from Kari McKnight - just awesome.  I learned a ton about paints - which colors are opaque, which are translucent and which are almost transparent - and, best of all, how to use that knowledge and make it work for you in your painting.  Kari taught lots of layering techniques, too, from making images go "deep" into your collage work to creating three-dimensional layers, so what you see below is not intended to be a finished project; it's the canvas on which I practiced the techniques Kari taught.  Awesome!  Such a great teacher and a super nice person, too!
My practice canvas from Kari's class

I took evening classes on Thursday and Friday from one of my all-time favorite teachers, Lesley Venable.  Thursday night was "Tied, Tagged and Twisted."  We learned a transfer technique, some stamping and stenciling techniques and lots about how to work with fluid chalk - something that had always given me a hard time.  We practiced these techniques on plain tags - they weren't plain when we finished with them! - then tied and stitched them into pretty little booklets.  Friday night's class with Lesley was "A Trio of Transfers."  We learned how to create transfers using Contact paper, plastic wrap and a product called Transfer Ink.  We practiced on tags and a small canvas board.  Everyone's projects were beautiful!  Another super nice person and a great teacher.  Lesley comes with an extra bonus - her husband Tom who is a baker extraordinaire and who supplies all of Lesley's classes with homemade cookies and brownies.  What a neat couple!
Fronts of my tag book pages
Backs of my tag book pages
During the day on Friday, I took a class called "Through the Rabbit Hole" with Ingrid Dijkers.  This one was complicated AND complex, and nobody finished, BUT when these books are done, they are going to be amazing.  They're called "tunnel books" because each page has a successively smaller hole with things peeking through - lots of fun!  I'll put a picture of Ingrid's here so you can see what I'm talking about.  She has some of the most beautiful journals I've ever seen.  If you ever have an opportunity to take a class from Ingrid, be the first in line to sign up!

Ingrid Dijkers' "Through the Rabbit Hole"

Today I took "Cover to Cover" with the incredible Misty Mawn.  I learned the coptic bookbinding stitch!  I'd seen it before and thought it was so beautiful, but all so complicated I would never learn it.  Wrong!  We made gorgeous little soft cover books in the morning and then spent the afternoon painting and embellishing the pages.  I still have a long way to go to finish mine, but will post pictures when it's done.  Misty is not only a gifted artist, but also a wonderful and very patient teacher.  I've already pre-ordered her book Unfurling which will be released June 1.  Saw her copy today and it is AMAZING!!  You can order your copy now at or

Two more days of classes - yay!  Will tell you all about it soon!  

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Have you heard about Zentangle?

One of Maria's beautiful Zentangle designs

I took a Zentangle class at Art & Soul - Hampton last year and was instantly hooked on this simple, meditative art process developed by the very gifted husband-and-wife team of Maria and Rick Thomas.  As the Zentangle website explains, "With Zentangle, anyone can create beautiful images from repetitive patterns. This method is easy to learn and easy to do. And even though it is a specified series of steps, it results in a creative expression that transcends its own rules."

The results are always surprising and pleasing.  You cannot fail at Zentangle! Just look at these first Zentangle attempts by the students in the class I took (mine is second from the left on the next-to-the-bottom row).  

Pretty amazing, huh?
In just a few weeks, I will be going to Massachusetts to become a Certified Zentangle Teacher, and I'm already scheduled to teach a class for our local arts association.  I'll be sharing lots of information about Zentangle here, too, so plan on getting all tangled up with me after May 16!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Handmade For You Swaparoo!

Just signed up for this really cool swap!   It's called "Handmade For You Swaparoo" and the deadline for mailing your trades is already fast approaching - May 6-7 - so you need to sign up now!  I can't wait to get started on the three items I will be swapping with my partner.  The neat thing about this swap is that you can trade anything handmade.  I already know what I'm going to make for my partner, and it will be so exciting to receive a package with three surprises in return.  So come on, everybody, let's swaparoo!  Just click on the link in this post or on the big button at right to sign up.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Ooooh, ooooh, ooooh! Just found a great swap site!

This is a P.S. to today's post!  Just found a great swap site.  LOTS of different items to create and trade.  Have fun!

Art Swaps and Trades

Until a couple of years ago, I had never heard of art swaps.  Now I don't know how I ever lived without them!  Artists swap ATCs (Artist Trading Cards), holiday ornaments, special occasion cards, art supplies and just about anything they can think of.   It's mostly online and by mail, so everyone can play!

Paris Fan

Christmas Fan

Mermaid Fan

One of the first swaps I participated in was sponsored by Lisa Vollrath of Ten Two Studios.  Lisa hosted a fan swap.  She provided the pattern for the fan, posted info about the swap, and artists who were interested signed up.  Each of us then created 3 fans from the pattern (the pictures above are of the 3 I made), mailed them to Lisa and she mailed 3 fans back to us.  Each of us received 3 beautiful fans made by other artists.  

Another swap I had fun with was an ATC swap.  There are many of these online at various artists' blogs and websites.  Here are a few I did for one with the theme "Leather and Lace."
Leather & Lace ATCs

So are you ready to swap?  A good place to start is ATCs For All.   And keep visiting all of your favorite artists' blogs to find more swaps.

And watch this blog for swaps.  Encourage your art-y friends to follow this blog, too.  The more, the merrier!!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Take Time for Yourself

This picture was taken as I was leaving the World Healing Institute at Cobb Island Light Station on the Eastern Shore of Virginia last October.  I had just spent 4 days at a retreat there with a group of awesome and amazing women.  The experience was enlightening, empowering, spiritual and healing on so many levels.  The joy and peace I found in those 4 days have remained with me and taken me in directions I would not otherwise have gone.

The Labyrinth at Cobb Island Light Station

One of the most powerful experiences of the retreat for me was walking the grass labyrinth behind the retreat center.  I walked it barefoot at sunrise as a doe and her twins watched me from a small distance.  The breeze off the ocean was energizing, and I turned my face to the sun as it broke through the clouds and whispered, "Thank you."

I urge everyone who has not experienced a labyrinth walk to go online and find one near you.  Many hospitals and churches now have permanent labyrinths, and there are labyrinths that roll out like carpets that are available to churches and community groups for rental.  You can also find handheld and other small portable labyrinths online, some so small you can slip them into pocket or purse to carry with you.  Each time you "walk" the labyrinth - whether with your feet or the little stylus that comes with the pocket ones - you will have a different experience.  A good place to locate a labyrinth near you is The Labyrinth Society, and Relax4Life has some beautiful personal labyrinths.

Take time for yourself today.  Find a peaceful place, center yourself and breathe consciously.  Consider going on retreat - alone or with a friend, your family or other group.  I promise you will return to the "real world" energized and joyful.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Another great art site for you!

Calligra-Fun practice page

Creative Workshops is another great site for those of us who enjoy online art workshops.  I have taken two awesome lettering workshops with Martha Lever ("Italic Calligraphy" and "Calligra-Fun"), a journaling workshop with Jodi Ohl and a backgrounds class with Nancy Lefko.  So much fun!

Our lives are busy, and we need to find time - make time! - to do the things we enjoy.  Online art classes give us the flexibility to work at our own pace and at convenient times.  We don't have to drive anywhere or - and this is a biggie for me - have others looking at our work until we're ready for it to be seen.  Creative Workshops  is a great place to start if you've been thinking about trying an online workshop.

AND from July 16 to August 20, Creative Workshops will be hosting "Artful Gathering," an online art retreat!  Seventeen art classes by some of the most amazing and talented artists/teachers working today!  To learn more, click on the button that says "An Amazing Event" or "I'm a member of Creative Workshops."

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Rites of Spring

Gathering daffodils and putting them in my cobalt bottles is a rite of spring at our house.  We've had so much cold and rain around here that I was starting to wonder if the daffodils would make it, but they opened up their shiny little faces this week and I knew that spring had finally come to our little corner of the world.  Yay!

Another sure sign of spring in this part of Virginia is the arrival of the Art & Soul art retreat, five days of awesome paper, fabric, jewelry and fiber arts workshops.  I count the days 'til Art & Soul every year like a kid counts the days 'til Christmas.  The retreat always has a theme.  Last year it was "Wonderland," the year before that it was "Rock 'n Roll" (I collaged a guitar!),
My "Girls Rock" guitar

and this year it's "In the Garden."  I'm so lucky to live right here, but artists come from all over the world to this retreat!  It's not too late to register, so if you can make it, fly, drive, walk, swim or crawl to Art & Soul Virginia.  The dates are April 28 - May 2, and you can sign up and choose your workshops at Art & Soul.  Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Hooked on Blogs

Blogs are so much fun!  I've spent the last year reading fantastic blogs and have learned SO much from so many amazing bloggers.  I'm hooked!  So I decided to jump in and create my own.  I'll be learning how to do this as I go along, so bear with me.

"That Allison Girl" will be mostly about art and writing.  Not the high falutin' stuff that bored you in school and made you think you could never call yourself an artist or a writer.  Nope, this is going to be about the fun stuff - the kind of art and writing that takes many of us far too long to realize we CAN do and once we realize it there ain't no stoppin' us! There will also be some healing, self-nurturing stuff I've learned from others far wiser than me during the most difficult times of my life because that's when our spirits really grow, right? And some pretty things, and some just-for-fun stuff and who knows what else?  We'll find out as we go along.

Do you hear your inner artist calling you?  Have you always had a secret longing to write but found it too intimidating - you know, too many rules and restrictions?  Do you know you need to take better care of yourself and do some things that are just for yourself, but don't know how to begin?  Well, me too, and here I am starting at the beginning at a time in life when most folks have been doing what they love for years and years.  So I hope you will jump in with me and enjoy being a beginning artist and/or writer and/or self-nurturer.  I hope you'll choose all three!

What I'll be doing at first is bringing you links to other blogs I think you'll enjoy.  I'll be sharing links to online workshops that I've taken and showing you the results.  And believe me, these are art projects that if I can do, anyone can do!

I'll also be sharing my journals with you and showing you how to make your own.  These are NOT your grandmothers' diaries!  Don't spend money on those little lined books at the bookstore - too restrictive.  You'll have WAY more fun making your own and it will be a work of art!  Then we'll use our beautiful new journals for...well, whatever we want to use them for!  But I'm jumping ahead.  Must be the excitement!

My "Fairy Claudia"
So here's the first thing I want to share.  I just finished a little online art workshop called "Fairy Claudia" with Monica at Hands and Heart. I had never painted with acrylics before, but it was only $15, so I decided to give it a try.  Monica is a great teacher, very easy to follow and so encouraging every step of the way.  And right now she's offering a free online workshop called "Free Spirit" to everyone who adds her to their Facebook page! She's got some other courses on her site that I can't wait to try.  Think I'll go sign up for one right now!