Ain't No Ninny

Where Creativity and Everyday Life Collide


Life Book 2015 Week 1: Beacon of Light

I don’t know what’s wrong with me lately but I’m already a week behind on the challenges in three out of the four art journal workshops I am participating in this year.  It’s not that I’m not motivated, it’s more that I feel scattered and unsettled and can’t sit long enough to finish anything with patience.

For the main challenge on Week 1 of Life Book 2015, we were supposed to draw and paint our own version of a Beacon of Light that we could turn to throughout the year to motivate or soothe or encourage us on our life’s journey.  Tamara Laporte provided both a video and a PDF file on exactly how to create her big-headed, big-eyed whimsical beacon of light figure which was done mostly in taupe and gold tones.  I tried one version and thought the head was too big.  And I tried to paint her in brighter tones so that she was more cheerful.  The problem?  I was too impatient while using a black paint pen on her eyes which blobbed all over her face.  I tried blotting and reworking the parts of the face that had been ruined but it didn’t work. I felt really discouraged and sat without doing anything for several days.

Yesterday I decided to start all over.  I sketched a new girl, not unlike the one I had ruined, but with a head that suited her figure better.  Tamara’s figure had ‘rays’ for a headdress.  I decided to create a moon headdress with a sun/halo behind it since I wanted my Beacon of Light to be both of the day and the night.  I sketched the figure using 9″x12″ 140# Cotman watercolor paper and a 0.5 mechanical pencil.

Beacon of Light Sketch

Then I got scared about painting her face, fearful that I would ruin it again.  I decided to paint the body first, which I did, and the face second.  I was really into the process by the time I was ready to do her face so I proceeded, using a light hand with acrylic paints. I decided to use fineline markers for her eyes rather than a paint pen.  It worked much better.  I used metallic IZink and Liquitex inks in teal, gold & silver for her hair/crown, her dress, and the sun/halo behind her.  I used Neocolor II watercolor crayons for the background & charms and and a dot stamp with gold ink for the tiny ‘stars’. I used silver glitter on the crown but rubbed most of it off. I think it looked tacky and I probably will never use glitter again since I am finding it everywhere around my desk.  I finished by shading and outlining everything with Letraset alcohol markers and a Stabilo All pencil in black.

Beacon of Light PaintedBeacon of Light - Scanned

You can see the shimmer in the first photo above that was taken with a camera & flash.  The details show up better in the second, scanned image.

I’m pleased with how this turned out and plan to adhere the watercolor paper to a 9×12 wood block to hang next to my desk to remember that I am always safe in all of my undertakings.  I can take as many do-overs as needed until I get things right.  That is true both in art and in life.

Now onto Week 2 of Life Book, just as week 3 is being released!  See you soon.  I hope you find time in your weekend to be creative too!



Holiday Art Journal Love #12.31

Two days after I put together my recycled art journal, I have decided that I am in love with it.  It is so nice to doodle, stencil, paint & spray to my heart’s content knowing that it is just for me, just for fun!  And I love that I am using a non-traditional holiday color scheme on the pages.  The reds are more magenta, the greens more teal . . . and lemons, aquas, corals and violets have crept in there.  It seems less formal and more festive to me than traditional Christmas colors.

This morning, I completed the back cover of the journal.  I gessoed it to cover up the cereal box images and then stenciled snowflakes all over it in acrylic paints using colors that appeared on the front cover (the snowmen page). The stencil I used is called Blizzard by ColorBox.  After the stenciled areas were dry I doodled inside each snowflake with a white Uni-ball Signo Broad pen (except the yellow snowflakes which I doodled with a black roller-ball pen).  I love the way it turned out.  No words.  Just colorful snowflakes on a white background.  I’ll leave the words and images for inside the journal.

Back cover of my holiday journal.

When I finished the back cover I still had wet acrylics sitting on my palette.  So I picked up a wide brush and used the paint up on the inside of the front cover.  I didn’t bother to gesso.  I merely painted directly on the inside cardboard of the cereal box that forms the cover of the journal.  I like the blocky look of the paints.  When I stared at it for a moment, I saw a cat’s head near the top center so I sketched in a whimsical cat onto the dried paint using a Stabilo All pencil (which is water-soluble).  I decided to leave it for now until I decide what should accompany the kitty on the page.


Inside front cover of the holiday journal.

I had a lot of fun this morning just playing in the journal.  But now I have to do grown-up chores.  I’ll be back another time with more.

I hope you can find something creative and fun to do today too!


Art Every Day Month – Day 16

It’s Sunday…a day of rest for many of us.  And that’s what I wanted for my art today.  Something I could doodle while relaxing and watching a movie.  I decided to go whimsical today and draw crazy colorful cats.  And I wanted to use my alcohol markers which have been ignored in my craft stash for too long. So that’s what I did.

Day 16 - Kitties

I hope you had a relaxing, creative sort of day also!

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Art Every Day Month – Day 11

Yes, I’m a day late on this one.  Life happens and sleep (or lack thereof) happens too.
Once again I used the NaNoJouMo song title prompt for November 11 which was “Riptide” by Vance Joy.  This time I decide just to go with a visual for the song title, something like an album cover.

Day 11 - Riptide - Vance Joy

I created this digitally using a very primitive online drawing tool.  The result looks like someone floating in or being pulled down into deep water (a riptide).  I collaged a printout of the digital art into my 7×10 mixed media journal then printed and collaged the song title to the top left of the page.  I finished by handlettering the singer’s name to the bottom.  Easy peasy.

I hope you did something creative today too!

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Art Every Day Month – Day 10

Today I let my inner child out and I colored (with colored pencils, not crayons).  I used the NaNoJouMo song-title prompt for today which was “Daydreaming” by Paramore.  I decided to take a cue from the first stanza of the song and build homes on a street in a (day)dream.  I sat on the sofa and created this (much like I did as a child) while watching a movie on television.

Day 10 Daydreaming - Paramore

The graphite smudged a bit and my scanner cut the 9×12 page down to 8.5×11 but the gist of my intentions are there.  It’s whimsical, it meets the challenge, and I got great satisfaction from doing something simple for myself.

I hope you satisfied your own creative Muse today.


Art Every Day Month – Day 9

Once again, I used the NaNoJouMo song-title prompt for the day.  This time it was “Palisades Park” by Counting Crows.  Boy, is it a far cry from the original song with that name by Neil Diamond!  I listened and listened to the song and then read the lyrics.  I realized the important parts of the song to me (for an art journal page) were the park itself (an amusement park in New Jersey across the Hudson River from New York City that closed in 1971) and the narrator in the song asking where his friend Andy went.

Immediately, I recalled a gelli-plate monoprint that I had created a few months ago, one of my first as a matter of fact.  I created it using acrylics in primary colors on deli paper, a type of waxed paper that disappears when you collage it onto a page or canvas.  I had used 2 or 3 different mandala-type stencils whose shapes are reminiscent of ferris wheels and other carnival rides.  I grabbed that and glued it into my 7×10 mixed media journal using matte gel medium.  Then I printed out a silhouette of an ambiguous figure because the narrator refers to Andy as ‘he’ sometimes and ‘she’ sometimes as if he/she were possibly transexual.  I collaged the silhouette and two different lines from the song onto the ‘amusement park’ background. Finally, I highlighted areas on the page with a black Stabilo All pencil (which I smudged for a grunge look) or a Sharpie white paint pen.

Day 9 Palisades Park - Counting Crows

I am very pleased with how this turned out.  It was an easy journal page to create since I had previously created the background monoprint.   But I think it accomplishes what I had hoped for.

Now off to write a poem for the day!  I hope you’ve had time to create today too.


Art Every Day Month – Day 8

Today I used the NaNoJouMo song-title prompt “Another is Waiting” by the Avett Brothers.  I didn’t really like the song until I read the lyrics and an article where the song writer talks about what the lyrics meant.  It is about how girls (and women) are unduly influenced by popular culture to become too thin.  I feel very strongly about that.  I have a very average body size, not too thin and not too heavy, but I always feel fat.  I could stand to lose 10 pounds and I am not worried about that.  But young girls are overly inspired by the air-brushed, anorexic-looking models they see in magazines.

I used the prompt to do a quick collage using some of the lyrics from the song and an image (unsourced) that I found on Google images which seemed to epitomize the concept.  The edges of the page were created using a skeleton stencil and black gesso.  I used a red Sharpie paint pen for highlights and doodles.

Day 8 Another is Waiting - Avett Brothers

This was a quick art journal page, which goes to show that you can be creative in 30 minutes or less if that is all the time you have.  I hope you are inspired to create today too!

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Art Every Day Month – Day 7

Today there were two prompts that caught my eye.  On, the weekly prompt was “Thinking of You”.  And for NaNoJouMo, the daily song title prompt was “Through the Dark” by Alexi Murdoch.  Both of these made me think of my daughter who is going through a difficult time right now.  I wanted to combine the prompts and then send a scan of the page to her to show that she is loved.

I started with a page in my 7×10 mixed media art journal that already had some purple, ivory and teal paint on it from cleaning off brushes from a prior project. It may be a coincidence, one I wasn’t thinking of when I chose that page, but my daughter’s favorite colors are purple and teal.  It was meant to be!   I then painted a woman, half on — half off the page over the purple paint giving her black hair (like my daughter’s) and with tears falling from the visible eye.

Week 45 Thinking of You

On the rest, I stamped & doodled & scribbled over the existing paint to give the page some dimension. I added hearts (since I am sending this to her from my heart).  Then I collaged two lines onto the center heart from the song “Through the Dark”.  I also used a stamp at the bottom right of the page that shows that there is a way through the darkness as long as there is love.  And I have tons of love for her.

Today I am thinking of my daughter.  And I created something to show her my love.

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Art Every Day Challenge – Day 6

It’s been one of those days — very busy with little time for creativity.  So I decided not to follow today’s #NaNoJouMo prompt (which was “Don’t Carry It All” by the Decemberists).  Instead, I picked up my Art Doodle Love journal and, using only four gel pens (black, white, pink, purple), I doodled mandalas on one of the pages.

Day 6 no prompt (mandala doodles)

Sometimes doodling is exactly what is called for and it keeps the creative juices flowing.   Art for the day….done!

I hope you found some time in your day to do something creative, too.


Art Every Day – Day 5 (Second Hand News)

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again here.  I really have trouble drawing and painting faces.  The only remedy for that is practice, practice, and more practice.  I expect to try several this month.

I used Dawn Sokol’s Day 5 NaNoJouMo prompt which was “Second Hand News” by Fleetwood Mac.  I decided to use newsprint in the background over which I wanted use translucent paint that would let the pieces of newsprint show through.  I chose two paints (Quinacridone Nickel Azo Gold and Green-Gold) because they would give the journal page a warm glow and would look a little rustic.  I drew the face with a graphite pencil and then painted it with various shades of craft paint.   I stamped the words on the neck with Sepia archival ink and went over them with a Sepia pitt pen.  I hand-lettered the group’s name in black gel pen and highlighted it with white gel pen.

Day 5 Secondhand News - Fleetwood Mac

I wasn’t looking for photo-realism in the face, which is good since it doesn’t look realistic.  I was looking to achieve a face that was serious and thoughtful.  I hope I achieved a little of that.  I’ll keep practicing and practicing and, with luck, I’ll improve.  That’s the name of the learning game!

I hope you did something creative too!