Thursday, October 28, 2010

Biffybeans 4 Most Popular Images on Flickr

My Watercolor Palette

5925 views, 87 favorites. Click through this image and see my notes.

My watercolor palette.

4828 views, 62 favorites.
Click through this image and see my notes.

Pelikan M200 Fountain Pen on Moleskine - My first real Bird!

10,584 views, 39 favorites. My Pelikan M200 Fountain Pen
(You can buy high quality prints of this image at Imagekind.)

010607 Prismacolor Meditation Mandala

3494 views, 37 favorites. My first mandala.(Over 1500 ago!)

According to Flickr, these are the most "Popular" images in my photostream. While they are not specifically the images with the highest view count in my stream, (that would probably be the pictures of me and my husband with Metallica from back in the early 90's) these are the ones that rank according to whatever algorithm they use to determine what's popular.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Sticks and Stones

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On my recent trip back to Lake Erie, I walked the beach while fighting strong winds so I could collect some pretty stones and beautiful pieces of driftwood to bring back home. Once I arrived back at my friend Jen's house who lives about 10 miles from the lake, I dumped out my findings in her driveway and together we created this "Sticks and Stones" mandala. The idea of using found objects to create mandalas is something I plan on incorporating into future workshops. (Click here to learn about my workshop; "Mandala: An Artful Meditation.")

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A small curled strip of birch maybe? Small pieces of a darker soft wood with lovely markings.

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Sticks and stones....  When you bunch together the smooth sticks, they sound like those bamboo wind chimes or maybe, some old bones.

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The rocks (and one tiny pine cone) that I find at the lake are simply amazing. To see the way these rocks reveal circular patterns of wear from sitting in the water... They are such a treasure! These are simply the best souvenirs that I can possibly have from such a wonderful trip. I've already given a few away and am starting to come up with some great ideas on what to make with the sticks.

What would you make with them?

Sticks and Stones and Other Student Essays  Sticks & Stones

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Got questions? Ask now and I'll answer live tonight!

Got questions for me about pens, ink, paper, art supplies, or mandalas? Post your questions to the comment box below and I will do my best to answer them tonight on The Write Time at 9, Brian Goulet's (of Goulet Pens and the Ink Nouveau blog) weekly live podcast at 9pm EST on Tuesdays where he talks about fountain pens, paper, ink, and whatever else inspires him. This week I will be his special guest so feel free to pick my brain!

Can't listen in tonight? Brian uploads the show so you can watch it at your convenience. :o) 

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Sleeping Bee

Sleeping Bee

Isn't this the sweetest thing you've ever seen? When my friend Jen went to cut the flowers for our herb bundles, it was getting dark and she didn't notice that she had brought this little girl along.

After quickly snapping a picture, I gently took the flower outside and delicately transferred her to another flower where she quickly scurried and went right back to sleep.

The Secret Life of Bees Bee Are You a Bee? (Backyard Books)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Lake Erie: Parts 1 and 2

Lake Erie from Sherod Park, Ohio

This past April I pulled on my big girl boots and took the longest solo drive of my life. 8 hours to central Ohio to take a personal growth workshop entitled "The Rhythm of Life Design." The drive was significant in that I've metaphorically been hiding in my shell for a very long time. Because I really wanted to go to that workshop, I had no choice but to just get in the car and go.

I initially rented a guest house for two nights but then decided to extend my stay at the encouragement of a good friend. "Live your life!" he said. And so I did. I stayed in a beautiful old house on 100 acres of land with a pond and a beautiful breakfast nook where I spent a fair amount of time writing in my journal. I also was perusing a small traveler's guide to the area and found that I was relatively close to Lake Erie. Normally, I don't go in for lakes. I prefer active or flowing water and I just wasn't feeling it to drive to the lake. "Do you hear yourself?" said the voice inside my head. "You are playing it safe. You didn't come all this far to not go a wee bit further and see one of the Great Lakes. Get in the damn car & go." Okie dokie....  I got into the car and drove 12 easy miles. (All my driving in Ohio was easy.) As I was wondering when I would see it, and how big it really was, all of a sudden.... Gasp! Is that it??? Oh My Goodness!!!! I had absolutely no idea how big it would be as it covers almost 10,000 square miles. Waves crashed to shore and I could see big ships on the horizon. This was not the tiny local fishing lake I knew as a kid.

I was instantly awake.

I spent quite a while walking that beach, picking up small rocks to bring home and happily tracking sand into my car. Sand, In Ohio! Can you believe it? (I obviously don't get out much.) Though I drove a billion miles to get to Ohio, it only took a wee bit more to have my breath taken away from me and to experience something so wonderful. I had to admit that I had no clue when I'd ever see it again.....

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This past Labor Day I spent the weekend at an amazing event called the Great Rhythm Revival held in Sherman, New York. After the event ended on Sunday, I was invited to stay at a new friend's house who lives near Findley Lake. After spending a few days there I looked at a map and once again saw that I was only about 12 miles from Lake Erie. And believe it or not, I almost didn't go back. But then the voice spoke once again. "Get in the damned car & pay your respects from a different state!"

Though I was staying in New York, I drove up through the chimney part of Pennsylvania to Freeport Beach in North East, PA. Once again I'm wondering when it will come into view. I swing into the beach parking lot, see the lake and begin sobbing like a baby. This 2nd (solo) trip to visit this massive body of water is so representative of my willingness to move forward & continue to transform my life. To remove things that are not serving my highest good and replacing them with ones that do.I CAN do ANYTHING!

I did one again get out and walk the beach but had to fight heavy winds to gather more stones. But all the stones are all so large, wait... that piece of wood, is that drift wood? Yes! And so I wandered the beach trying to shield myself from the wind as I gathered a bag full of the most gloriously smooth driftwood. I'm not sure I've ever even seen real driftwood and I just kept thinking about all the cool things I could make with it.

I took the bag back to my friend's house and happened to meet her in the driveway as she was returning home. I sat on the ground, dumped out my bag and told her my story... still with tears in my eyes for simply giving myself permission to DO SOMETHING and live life.

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Do NOT be afraid to live your life! Wanna go somewhere or do something? Just do it!

Lake Erie: A Pictorial History  Under Lake Erie  Lake Erie Living

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Review: Colleen Double Ended Colored Pencils

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Pencils are one of my least favorite forms of media in that I don't like using something where the nib is constantly changing. I want to be able to lean on a nib or brush etc. and know what it can do time and again. I use a pencil, get in the zone, go to use it and the point isn't sharp enough and I make a mess. That being said, I recently wrote a post on a blue/red combination pencil that I had bought. (And hated, too waxy.) I didn't like how the pencil worked, but I liked the idea of 2 colors in one. With a small house, I love art supplies that are multi-functional. (Though I love my Albrecht Durer Watercolor pencils for this purpose but prefer to use them w/ water only due to their cost.)

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Searching the web for other brands of double ended colored pencils, I found this blog post over on Pencil Talk about how this former Japanese company had been revived and is doing well in Thailand. Since I've had good luck with other Asian art supplies, (especially the calligraphy markers I buy at JetPens) I decided to give them a try. Unfortunately, there don't seem to be any American retailers selling these, so I ended up tracking these down to a seller on eBay and paid $13.50 for a box of 24 to be shipped direct from Thailand.

It's funny... I paid so much for my Prismacolor pencils that I can't stand. Half are waxy & the leads break so easily. These Colleen pencils are NOTHING like the Prismacolors. They sharpen easily (came unsharpened) and I've only had one tip break- probably due to my needing to empty the sharpener. The leads are soft and the colors go down like butter.

Mandala Ink Doodle

If you are familiar with my mandala art, you probably know that many, many of them are completed with only one color. I work like this and then I move on, typically never to come back....

Lilac & Blue mandala

Until now.

Ink Mandala

Ink mandala that I didn't like because the paper wasn't friendly to water based fountain pen inks.

Colored pencil mandala

But now I love it.

6 pointed mandala

I love these pencils so much that I'm actually taking the time to color.

Colored Pencil Mandala

And also creating art with the pencils alone....

Highly recommended. Note that the shipping from Thailand did take about 2 weeks, but it was certainly worth it!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Review: Niji Waterbrushes

Niji Waterbrushes
Niji Waterbrushes at Blick

 I've been a big fan of these waterbrushes for quite some time. Ranging $7-$8 in price, they come with various nib options and are simple to use. A synthetic brush on one end, and a refillable water reservoir on the bottom. If you need more water, give the brush a gentle squeeze.I tend to be very rough with all my brushes and the points on these brushes don't hold up for very long so I buy a new one every now and again. I've also tried filling the barrel with fountain pen ink, but realized that you better love what color you put in the brush as it uses so little when you draw/paint that it's going to be in there for a while. 

Friday, October 15, 2010

Food Mandalas for Heather

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The other day on Facebook, my friend Heather requested some food mandalas and this is what I had on hand. First, a focaccia mandala baked at my friend Jen's house. I created the mandala with fresh herbs from her garden.

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And once again, after it was baked. This bread was then taken from Findley Lake, NY to Johnstown, PA and shared with another good friend, Becky Bickford.

Jiffy Pop Mandala

Next, is a Jiffy Pop mandala. I suppose this technically isn't a food mandala but perhaps instead a food delivery device mandala but since them's thar foodstuffs in there silvery thang, I'm calling it a food mandala.

Pieogie Mandala

Ah.... My pierogie mandala.

Pizza Mandala

And how about a pizza mandala? My fiend Jaqui MacMillan and I made this when I visited her this past April. I created the design from chopped tomatoes.

Jingo Pizza!

Unfortunately not so mandala-ish after it was baked.

Here you go Heather! (Best merch fairy ever!) Next time I'll work on that Banana Mandala for you!

Thursday, October 14, 2010


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Layer 1: Black Bob Ross gesso over Clairefontaine Acrylic paper
Layer 2: Flower mandala painted with inexpensive Folk Art acrylic paints.

Mixed media stiill in progress

Layer 3: Ink doodle over flower with a White Uniball Signo UM-153 Broad gel pen (JetPens)
Layer 4: Thinly applied additional black gesso.
Layer 5: Winsor & Newton Galeria Titanium White acrylic

Layers :: Finished Yet?

Layer 6: C.P Cadmium Red Dark Golden acrylic paint
Layer 7: Additional phrases and ink doodles, White Uniball Signo UM-153 Broad gel pen (JetPens)

I am typically pretty impatient when I create. I like to finish something in one sitting as I love the instant gratification factor.  This piece has been pretty unusual in that I've been working on it for at least a month, adding more here & there. I'm really liking it and am not yet sure if it's finished. It might need just a little more red.
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