Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Sweet's Year in Review

January 21, 2013...That's the day I started this blog.  A whole year of posts have happened since then.  I stuck with this blog.  I needed it more than I knew when I posted those first pages of art, and it's been amazing what these past twelve months have encompassed for me.

I thought I'd take a minute to look back at 2013 and honor what's happened this year.


"For the girl with the wild hair and the thirsty heart."
Using watercolors and the crayon resist technique.
I started the blog...it's funny how much has changed since then...there were very few words in my posts that first month.  I didn't really know what to say...or else I was nervous to say it.  Mostly there were pictures of my beginning art stuff.

This is the first face I ever posted on the blog, a work in progress...

I remember being giddy over this face, because it was the best thing I had done art-wise so far.  I was so proud of her!  I remember feeling like I had learned so much already, because before I started taking art stuff seriously, I could hardly draw a stick figure with a smiley face.  Then I started watching videos and pouring over every single piece of information I could find about art journaling...this girl was the beginning of my face obsession, because I saw the first glimmer of improvement in her.


There were a lot of firsts in February:

The first time I ever used prompts to help me along in my art.

The first collage I ever made...

The first mail art I ever received (from my darling friend Cheryl)....

The first time I attempted Zentangles/doodling...

And the first time I was ever close to being happy with the hair I'd done...  I still love this girl for the emotion I can see in her...


In March, I started to get a little more wordy...the true Sweets was starting to emerge...I was also gaining more confidence in artistic things...

I sent mail art for the first time...check out that envelope!  I remember being REALLY worried about what to send...I was so scared she wouldn't like it!  I still get nervous sending people my stuff, but not nearly as much as I was the first time!

March was also a month for experimenting for me...this page was the first glimmer of hope that I could get better at lettering...  I'm still happy with it!  ...of course, I plan on practicing more in the new year...

March was also the month I started buying art supplies...or should I say the month the obsession really took off?  I bought every single color of Dylusions spray inks...and descended into art supply madness even further since then...


April was when I really started to understand the journal part of art journal...and when I started to let my personality and feelings show...and let you know what was going on in my mind that prompted the pages.

This is still one of my favorite pages...I love the memory it holds...

April was also a month I got some very good advice from a very dear friend.  She made me think about things in a different way, and I still think about her advice when I'm feeling blue.

April also saw my first attempt at making my own art journal...this little calendar book was fun to make and ended up being pretty cute!  I need to dig it out and work in it some more!

April was also the first time I attempted a realistic drawing (a self-portrait)...while I mostly now see the glaring flaws on this page (dear goodness, I made a space alien version of Sweets! ...scary!), I also see the improvements.  That right cheek is awesome, look how round and dimensional it looks!  And the neck is pretty good too!


In May, I turned 30 and got a TON of awesome mail art!  I also did the countdown to 30, which was fun for me.  And I made some art for my two moms...birth mom, Marian,  and work mom, Miss Lettie.

This simple and cute gal made me very happy...and even better, Miss Lettie really liked her as well.

I was also really happy with this painting on canvas that I made for my Mom...and she liked it too!  It's always a good thing when the recipient of the gift likes it!  She has it hanging on the wall in her house, which makes me pretty proud!

And this art journal page remains one of my favorites:

I was so happy with the emotion in this page and the shading...I think this is one of the first times I felt like all my effort was paying off!


June saw ICAD, or Index Card a Day, which I started but ended up not sticking with...but there were some fun cards that happened before I quit:

Like this one, inspired by the talented and hilarious Tracey Fletcher King, who you can check out HERE...

and this one:

I didn't like this one at first, but she grew on me over time...I'm don't know if that pun was intended or not...but it's out there now, isn't it?  

June was also the month I shared what my drawings looked like before I started practicing art at all:

No, this was not made by a five year old...I shared this to show that everybody can get better with a little practice.  Personally, I still have a hard time believing how much my work has improved in a little less than a year!.

June also had some really awesome art journal pages, the beginning of Inner Excavations, and this painting on canvas:

I was so proud of that bird outline!  Everybody thought I used a stencil, but NO!  I drew it by hand from a picture reference...it still makes me happy to look at it!


July was a lean month on the blog, not a lot of posting happened, but the posts I did write were SUPER long!   Inner Excavations continued to happen:

His shirt is a tip it!  I'm still proud of that stroke of genius!

I made an ugly piece of scrapbook paper go from this:


To this (sharing all the steps along the way):

Ah...much better!

And Book of Days (an Effy Wild workshop) was started:

This spread was squeal worthy...


In August, I attempted my first month long Blog-a-thon, subsequently failed, but ended up with some really good art in the process:

I showed you this page, from start to finish.

Continued with Book of Days (I love this page...it's even better in person)...

...and Inner Excavations.

I introduced you to my beloved Gregg...

...and showed you what the future held for Gregg and I.


September saw the 29 Faces challenge, and my personal (hip hip hooray) 30 posts in 30 days accomplishment:

So many...

...different faces...

...were drawn daily...

...in September!


October was another lean month blog-wise, probably due to exhaustion from daily posting in September...and in part due to the surprise of Fusco, the drop off wonder dog, being left at my house:

Best.Drop.Off.Ever.  He really is great and wonderful, and I still don't know why anybody would just leave such a good dog!  ...BUT, I'm happy they did, because this guy is awesome, and I can't imagine life without him now!

Inner Excavations was also finished off with a collage BANG!


November was the month I bought Jane Davenport's "Whimsical Faces"class from Cloth Paper Scissors...and the learning commenced!

Gregg continued to be loved and adored and filled with art...

This page was made...it makes me squeal with delight every time I look at it! 

You met Strega Nona...

...and her grandson, The Swedish Chef.

And the quest to finish my two art journals (the ones with the less-than-desirable paper in them) began in earnest.


December was a big month for me.  Kickin' It Old School Blog-a-thon was attempted and half-way finished.
There was a lot of mental work happening in December.

Looking to the past with love:

...letting go of some things...

...continuing to learn and grow as an artist, and as a human being...

....making plans for continued growth...

...and putting those plans in motion.

It's been a busy but wonderful year for me...looking back was certainly fun.  I'm proud of how far I've come, happy for all the progress that's happened, and, most of all, glad for all the friends I've made.  I hope in 2014 the path I'm walking will prove to be just as much of a growing experience as 2013 and that even more new friends will be found along the way.

That about you?  What did 2013 hold that is special to you?  When you look back on the year, what do you remember the most?  What do you hope 2014 will hold for you?

Sunday, December 29, 2013

A Documented Life and One Last Lovely Day

Isn't it amazing how much stuff you can get done when you're trying to avoid doing something you don't really want to do?  Well, maybe you are someone who just jumps in and does the boring thing to get it over with...I thought I was too, but it seems that's not entirely true...

A while back, a friend of mine asked me to sew something for her.  I really didn't want to, but I can't say no to her, so I agreed to do it.  At least a month ago, I got all the stuff to make it...and it sat there for various procrastinating 'reasons'.  But this past week, my glorious vacation week, I commanded myself to get it done before I had to go back to work.

So all week long, I avoided the fifteen minutes of time it took me to sew this thing for my friend by devoting a lot of time to things that also 'needed done'.  

It started out with me realizing I needed to clear my sewing desk (the one legitimate task on this whole list) before I could start sewing.  And I couldn't just dramatically sweep the clutter into the floor (which is my normal cleaning technique)...oh no...it was 'a place for everything and everything in its place'...and of course, some things had no home...so I had to make one for them...by cleaning and organizing the other places in the house...you know, so I could put the sewing desk clutter away.

And then we ran out of clean plates, so the dishes needed done.  And since the kitchen was clean, it was the perfect time to make some of those sugar cookies I've been craving for so long now.  And then my husband asked me to make him some banana bread, and how could I deny that?  (full disclosure: I am never swayed by what he wants...normally I'd tell him to make his own dumb banana bread...but I was procrastinating, so I made it...)  ...and then the kitchen needed cleaned up again...

And then, since I have to wear clothes, the laundry needed done before I have to go back to work...all of it...like summer clothes before I could pack them away...and winter clothes that I just hauled out...and then of course why not just wash everything and have it done with?  And that was the perfect time to see if anything didn't fit anymore (by trying on everything) and make a Goodwill bag...

And then since the studio (which included everything...down to sorting the smallest scraps of my ephemera stuff) and the kitchen and the laundry room were clean, the bathroom was the only one left, so I cleaned that too.  And, if you've been reading the blog for a while now, you know how much I don't clean...or don't like to clean...or don't like to even think about cleaning...so you know I was giving sewing project avoidance my all.

And then there was Morning Pages, and art journal stuff, and hanging some art around the house, and blog posts, and reading, and playing with Fusco the drop-off wonder dog...and...and...and...  The list could go on....and on and on...  Finally, I just had to knuckle down and sew.  And, yeah, it took me fifteen minutes...total...cutting, sewing, stuffing...everything, start to finish.  Quick, somebody yell "Shame on you, Sweets!"  

Nah, you don't need to say it, I already feel ashamed of myself...and snookered.  Like I snookered myself...  I mean, this whole time I could have been doing absolutely nothing of any importance and here I cleaned the house and made food and did responsible adult things everyday this week.  WHAT!?!  That's crap-ola... 

Just kidding about the crap-ola part (mostly).  All the stuff I got done did technically need doing...at some point.  Despite my laziness and general not caring about cleaning, I do like it when the house is in good order.  I'd just rather be doing other things...and I have a problem with cleaning up after grown people...I'm looking at you, husband!   ...but, since I bit the bullet and did it anyway, I do have to admit that I feel a certain amount of relief and comfort when the house is tidy.  And honestly, I think it makes me more creative as well.

I've worked on a lot of art this week, and did get several things done (you've seen some of them in the past couple days) and I've got something else to share with you today.

Have you heard about The Documented Life Project?  I bet you have, especially if you're on Pinterest...it seems like I see it every time I check in there...probably because it looks so AWESOME!  

"One part planner plus one part art journal and one part weekly challenge equals an amazing year of organization, inspiration and community."  That's the tagline.  If you want to find out more, or join in the *free* fun, you can find out more HERE and HERE.

This was actually a right place, right time project for me, because I've been wanting to redo that bill calendar I showed you a couple days ago.  The ladies doing this project/challenge are using/suggesting a Moleskine weekly planner, but since I am trying to use what I've got on hand when possible, I decided to convert a K&Company SmashBook that I've had since FOREVER (as in since they first came out...yeah, that's quite a while...).  I think SmashBooks are cool, but for some reason, I'd not been able to force myself to use the ones I've had (I have two...because they are so cool looking!).  Some people struggle with blank pages, I struggle with the thought of ruining already cool pages...but I powered through, and there's no going back now...

Here it is so far:

Look at those tabs!  Hubba hubba!

I put the monthly tabs in for quick reference.  I made them myself from my sweet stash of scrapbook paper...again, something I have (quite a bit of), but hardly ever use...same reason as above: don't ruin something that's already pretty!  I realized that it's better to just use it...they will make more paper...  To make the tabs, I just cut little squares of paper (about 3"x3"), folded them in half, rounded the corners with a corner punch, and used a tape runner to adhere them to the pages.  I wrote in the month names and used some Tim Holtz Idea-ologly Label Letters next to the handwritten.  I don't know how necessary the tabs are, but they just look cool, don't they?

Here's one of the pages.  It turns out that a smash book has enough pages for about 30 weeks (if you are doing each week like a two page spread), so I ended up adding some more pages with scrapbook paper.  I forgot to take a picture of it, but I found that the best way (for me) to add pages was to use some jewelry wire I had, loop it around the spiral binding, and then masking tape the ends to the paper I wanted to add.  Then, to cover the masking tape, I glued (or taped, really, with double-sided tape) scrapbook paper over top.  It was a little bit of a pain, but it worked really well without adding too much bulk.
Like I said above, I did each week of the year as a two page spread.  I drew in the calendar bits myself.  At first, I was being meticulous, with my ruler and accurate measurements and straight lines, but then that got boring and was taking FOREVER, so I just winged it the rest of the way.
As you can see in the picture, I also added monthly calendar pages as tip-ins on the pages where the first of the month landed.  The two pictures above show a tip-in closed and then an open one.  I used scrapbook paper (again) for those, using various washi tapes to adhere them.

"There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind." - C.S. Lewis

This is the first page in the book.  I (washi) taped in two envelopes (one on either side) to the the little vellum advertising page at the beginning of the SmashBook.  I also left on the protective plastic cover thingie that the book comes in (I just cut off the part that goes over the pen/glue stick combo thingie...maybe it's called a SmashPen?), that way my cover will stay neat and clean...I like to reserve covers for the very last so they don't get messed up as I work in the rest of the book.  The clear plastic cover also gives me two pockets for holding various things (like another envelope...that's the yellow you can see peeking  at the top left of the left page).  

And I think that's it for the book so far...we'll just have to wait for the new year to see how the Documented Life Project will work.  I had fun making my little journal/organizer/whatever-you-want-to-call-it book, and I'm proud to say that I used ONLY what I had on hand to make it; I didn't buy one new thing!  That's an ongoing aspiration for me...to use what I have in my stash...so I can have room to buy more things!  I really need to yarn-it-up, because if I could go through my stash of yarn, I'd have A LOT more room...but I digress...

So today is my last lovely day of vacation...it's been wonderful...*sigh of happiness*  I don't want to go back to work tomorrow...*sigh of sadness*  I've decided that I was meant to be a House Frau... but one who doesn't really cook or clean all that much...so maybe Lady of Leisure fits better...  Yeah, definitely that one...  Unfortunately, art supplies are not free, so (hi-ho, hi-ho) it's back to work I go.  I've heard people say they couldn't stay at home all day, because it would be boring, so they work even when they don't have to.  Can I just slap those people?  I make my own fun...as long as I could afford art supplies, I'd be fine.  So if any of those 'bored' people want to switch places with me, that would be awesome.

What about you?  Are you meant to be a House Frau (like I was)?  Or do you prefer to go to work (and if so, can we switch places)?  What about Documented Life?  Have you heard of it?  Are you going to see what it's all about and attempt it with me?  Or do you have other fun projects planned for the new year?

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Word and Bird

While I haven't been doing the KIOS Blog-a-thon (because of my general slackitude), I have been following along, seeing what the prompts are and what everybody's writing about.  Today's prompt was one that caught my eye, because it's something I've had on my mind for the past month or so: word of the year.

In the past, I've kind of balked at the idea of 'word of the year', because it's really a goal.  And I don't like goals...they seem so restricting and boring and other negative words...like effort-requiring.  Ugh.  Effort.  Blah.

But for some reason, maybe because of the entire week off of work I've been enjoying...maybe because of my growing as a person...whatever reason...I've got the feeling I need to make a goal.  I like to think I'll try anything... Once.

And so, I've picked a word of the year for 2014:


Yep, that's it.  It's even in one of my art journals now, so it's pretty well concreted:

I'm really happy with the lettering and the inner coloring on this...I gotta fix the outside part...I just don't like it how it is.  It needs...more...I don't know...but it needs more something...

So anyways, condition:

  1. 1.
    the state of something, esp. with regard to its appearance, quality, or working order.
    "the wiring is in good condition"
  2. 2.
    the circumstances affecting the way in which people live or work, esp. with regard to their safety or well-being.
    "harsh working and living conditions"
    synonyms:circumstances, surroundingsenvironmentsituationsetupsetting,habitat More
  1. 1.
    have a significant influence on or determine (the manner or outcome of something).
    "national choices are conditioned by the international political economy"
  2. 2.
    bring (something) into the desired state for use.
    "a product for conditioning leather"

 That's kind of a funny word for someone who was just complaining about all things restricting/boring/requiring effort, right?  I know!  Crazy.  But it's one I really want to go with...it stuck on my brain like glitter...stuck like glitter to anything that comes into contact with glitter...  

I like condition as my 2014 word because it has so many meanings jammed into just a few letters...and they can pretty much all be applied to what I hope 2014 will be like.  

As in:

 My current condition is not bad right now.  I've made a lot of  progress on a personal level.  Big changes have been happening in me.  And that's great, totally awesome, self-back pat worthy...BUT I've still got some things I need to work on.  

So, like a Kung Fu master, I need to condition (or discipline...) myself to keep making positive changes in order to become the best Sweets I can.  

I also want to condition (like shampoo and condition) myself so I become a little softer.  Relearn what it's like to be innocent and good-hearted and to let things go.  I used to be so good at that, and I don't know what changed exactly, but in the spirit of 'fake it til you make it', I'm going to be good at it again.  

So...yay for CONDITION!

I am always trying to progress in my art stuff in general, but for 2014 I have some specific art goals...and I'm going to condition myself into succeeding at them.  

One of my goals is to get better at lettering.  I'm sure I've mentioned wanting to practice lettering before, but I'm really serious this time.  NO LAUGHING!  (...cause we're being serious...)  I've always struggled with my penmanship (yes, mom, I admit it...I should have practiced when I was a kid...you were right...*eye roll*...hehehe), and it drives me crazy when I make a good page and go to letter it and have instant sad face because I know my handwriting skills are close to nonexistent.  I know there are ways around that, like stamping letters or cutting them from magazines and books or using alphabet stickers...there are actually a lot of cool and fun options for lettering...BUT, I really want to be able to be proud of my own personal lettering skills.  I'm not looking to be the next Joanne Sharpe or anything, but I do want to improve...so-o-o much!  I am thinking of having a devoted lettering journal...and of practicing A LOT on lined paper as well.  The key to getting better at anything is just practice...and practice...and practice.  (Nod to my sister, Marian, for her mantra.)  

The other art goal for 2014 is to get better at realistic drawing.  I go through waves where I want real and then I want cutsie and then I want something else...but I think getting better at drawing more realistically will help me get better at drawing in general.  I think 2014 will be the Year of the Illustrated Journal.  I am thinking my illustrated journal will be pen and ink mainly...maybe throw in some watercolor washes...but the point will be in the drawing itself, so we'll see how it goes...  (full disclosure: it's basically a fact that there will be watercolor washes happening...).  And it will be real life drawing, no cartoonish silliness in this journal...as much as I can achieve that...  

I think the difference between illustrated journals and art journals (for me anyway) isthat art journals are more color, texture, collage, mixed media...and more MORE (if that makes sense at all.).  Illustrated journals are about drawing (illustration...it's in the name!).  I think some people use illustrated journal and art journal interchangeably...and they are probably right...but in my brain, that's the difference. 

And look, I even made a page in one of my current journals to illustrate Illustrated Journaling (Illustrate...just wanted to see if I could say it one more time.  Ha!):

Bird ornament - Illustrated Journal style!  Look at that white space...glorious.  I love layers of color and texture just as much as the next art junkie, but there's something to be said for big swatches of white space too...

Here is the bird in real life...sorry for the awkward picture, it was hard to get him to sit still...he's very round and was rolling all over the place.

So, to sum up 2014 goals: Condition.  Lettering.  Illustrated Journal.  

What about you?  Do you have any ambitions for the new year?  Or are you like my usual self: go with the flow and what happens happens?