Ain't No Ninny

Where Creativity and Everyday Life Collide


Art Every Day – Day 2

Today I decided to practice watercolor painting as I finish up Tammy Garcia’s Watercolor Playground workshop on  I decided that for this practice I would use my cheaper Canson watercolor paper and my student-level watercolor set knowing that this would be a precursor to the final piece I would make for the class.

I also wanted to do something for Dawn Sokol’s prompt for NaNoJouMo listed on her blog at .  The prompt was another song title:  “American Woman” by Lenny Kravitz.  I happen to prefer the original 1970 version of the song done by The Guess Who.  But, hey . . .  what does it matter unless I planned to do an album cover of the song, which I didn’t.

In Tammy’s workshop, the final piece is supposed to be watercolored doodles inside several small rectangles on a piece of watercolor paper.  No problem there, I penned in quite a number of rectangles of different sizes and doodled them with a Staedtler Fineliner pen.  I incorporate elements that met the “American Woman” prompt and added several other disparate designs.  The overall page looked pretty good in black and white.  Then the problems began.

Problem #1:  The black fineliner pen ended up not being waterproof so, as I painted, the black bled into the colors making them look muddy.  Problem #2:  The cheaper watercolor paints either needed too much paint to show up and then they looked opaque or they were too watery and didn’t show up well.  It was difficult to maintain consistency.  Problem #3: I started with a #6 round brush that didn’t have a point which caused me to go outside (or inside) the lines.  I switched to a smaller #4 pointed round brush and a #2 round one.  But I slogged through the painting.

When I had finished I let it dry.  I then decided to enhance the painting by adding definition back with a black Fude pen and to add to the design by doodling with a white Signo broad pen.  That helped a lot.  Here is the finished watercolor painting:

Day 2 American Woman - Lenny Kravitz

Although this is just a practice piece and watercolor painting is NOT about perfection, I found it frustrating.  I did however learn some lessons, particularly to use a waterproof pen in the design and to use the correct sized brushes for the job.  I am okay with the final piece and I’m happy that I created art today for Art Everyday Month #aedm and that I satisfied the daily prompt for #nanojoumo.

I hope you did something creative today whether or not you are happy with it.



Grungy Word Bubbles in Watercolor

I love watercolor paintings (done by someone else, of course).  I always make a muddy mess of watercolors when I paint.  But I want to learn, get better, maybe even paint something recognizable someday.

To start down that path, I am taking a couple of online watercolor workshops taught by Tammy Garcia of  The workshops (Watercolor Playground and Painted Paradise)  are not free but they are very reasonable for the amount of material Tammy provides.  And the course material will remain open until January 2015 so there is plenty of time to watch, practice, watch, practice some more, and watch again before the videos are closed.  The workshops start with the real basics, such as which types of watercolors, brushes, paper should be purchased, and end with you knowing how to mix, blend, design, and execute real paintings.

I am halfway through the first course (having learned how to mix and blend and separate paint.  The video I watched this week teaches us how to create grungy watercolor word bubbles using watercolors, a fineline pen, and Neocolor II crayons.

This was my first attempt:


The colors I selected for the bubbles and the Neocolor II crayons surrounding the bubbles caused some muddiness.  I forgot that red + green = muddy brown.  I also used a black Gel pen for the flower names inside the bubbles and the ink was just a little too harsh for the watercolors, I think.  Further, the painting looks a little clunky.  More practice needed!

This was my second attempt:

In this one I used only yellow, blue and green Neocolors for the grunge look between the bubbles (and more water to tone them down).  And I used a Staedtler Fineliner marker for the words inside the bubbles.  Overall, I like this second attempt better.  It is softer and more consistent.  Yes, it is colorful and, yes, it is grungy.  Mission accomplished!

The good thing about watercolors is that you are never completely in control.  That leads to all sorts of surprises (both good and bad).  But if you are not satisfied with a painting project, you can always cut the paper up and use it as colored collage paper for a mixed media project . . . which I am likely to do with these.  And I plan to practice this exercise again, and the next, and the next.

Until tomorrow, I hope there is a rainbow in your skies and loveliness in your eyes!

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Painting Quirky Faces

You all know by now how I feel about faces in my art.  I need to practice, practice, practice them.  Today I painted two faces without penciling them in first.  I just slapped that acrylic paint on the page, creating the face and the features as I worked.  I had no preconceived notion how they were supposed to look.

The first one was for an Art Journal Tangents and Tactics workshop on  The whole purpose of this exercise was to make a quirky girl, to do it loosely and quickly, and then to spray the painted face with water to make it collapse into something abstract.  Okay!

DY AJTT 6 Quirky GirlsDaisy Yellow Art, Art Journal Tangents and Tactics No. 6: Quirky Girls.

This next painted face was done to a prompt on : Rhyme Time.  I decided to use a technique that was being taught in a free Art Journal Wisdom workshop by Dirty Footprints Studio, the objective of which is (again) to get paint on the page quickly and then to use paper from your diary/journal for texture, and add a face quickly without forethought.  That scared me a little but I did it.

Journal52 wk 38 Rhyme TimeJournal52, Wk 38: Rhyme Time.  Double page spread in my 7×10 art journal.

The poem, “Underface“, is by Shel Silverstein, and the words are:

Underneath my outside face
There’s a face that none can see.
A little less smiley,
A little less sure,
But a whole lot more like me

I am not unhappy with the way the faces turned out since they were supposed to be loose and quirky and whimsical.  I think I accomplished that.

I hope you created something today too!

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Grid Love

Tammy Garcia over at  has the best weekly art journal workshops. She shows you a video for a new technique and then you try it yourself.  You’ve seen me discuss her Art Journal Tangents and Tactics series #dyajt in other posts but there is something that three of her most recent ones have in common:  they are all collages based on grids.   I’m really loving grids!

Here are the grid-love art journal pages I created this week (double click on any photo to get a bigger, clearer version).

AJTT Bonus A Flower Grid

This is  my version of Tangent Bonus A: Grunge Flower Grid.  I painted the grid on a page in my 8″x11″ art journal using Golden acrylic paints in colors I liked.  I then collaged onto the page different flower elements cut from magazines or stickers in my stash.  I adhered them around a ‘journal block’ where I wrote in gel pen “My garden is full of flowers” in French. I also added a fortune reading “Never fear shadows.  They simply mean that there is a light shining somewhere nearby.”  Then I outlined everything with various colors of Neocolor II water soluble crayons.  I love the contrast of pretty flowers against the less than perfect grunge of the background and shading.

AJTT Bonus B Bold Graphics

AJTT Bonus B Bold Graphics #2

The two pages above were in response to Bonus Tangent B:  Bold Patterns.  The objective was to cut heavy white paper into approximate 2×2″ pieces and create different patterns on them with bold black markers.  I used a Sharpie Pro Magnum, a Pitt Big Brush pen, and a Sharpie medium bullet-nib pen.  I colored the pattern on some of the pieces using either Tombow markers or gel pens.  On the first page, I just glued them all down across a 9″x12″ piece of watercolor paper and outlined/blended with a black Sharpie china marker.  I had some pieces left over so I glued them to an already paint-brayered page in my smaller 7.5″x10″ journal and outlined them with a Stabilo All pencil.  I found the exercise of creating patterns and doodles on the small pieces of paper very soothing and satisfying.

AJTT7 Pattern Grid

This is my version of Tangent No. 7:  Pattern Grid.  The black and white bonus exercise really led up to this one.  For this tangent I cut dozens of 2×2 and 2×3 pieces of bristol paper and then doodled them with various colored pens and markers (Tombows, Sharpies, Sakura Gelly Rolls, Sakura glaze pens).  I adhered them in a grid format to a 2-page spread in my 9″x12″ art journal.  I placed them around a piece of lined paper (on each page) which I then journaled on using a technique called stacked journaling (where you write a line normally, then turn the page 1/4 turn and write over what you just wrote).  It, in itself, becomes another pattern on the page. I shaded all of the pieces of patterned paper in various colors of Neocolor II crayons, smudging them to grunge them up a bit.

These grid-based Tangents have been some of my favorite so far.  A lot of effort when into creating the patterned pieces of paper but it was very fruitful effort and satisfied the doodling bug I’ve had since I was a young child.

If you wish to find out more about the Daisy Yellow  Tangents and Tactics weekly video workshops, go to Tammy Garcia’s website and click on the Art Journal Tangents and Tactics ‘button’ beneath her photo on the right side of the homepage.  They are free but you may wish to provide a donation for all of the effort Tammy put into making them.  There is a donate button on her page for that.

Happy grid-and-doodle-love, y’all!


Face to Face

I don’t like drawing faces in my art.  Not even whimsical faces.  I’m not good at it even though I’ve taken a couple of online workshops showing how to do it.  Somehow the eyes I draw are wonky or the features are not proportional to the head or each other. My inner critic looks at the faces I create and tells me they are no good. However, when I create scribble art (where I  scribble a line on paper and try to draw something from that) I feel better about the faces I draw because they are cartoonish.  That’s how they are suppose to look.  Nothing like real life.

I decided to take that doodling attitude and practice it more, with no expectations except having fun.  Just as I decided to do that, Tammy Garcia at provided another “Art Journal Tangents and Tactics” video workshop showing us how to paint an abstract girl with high flow acrylics and water.  To prepare for that she told us to draw 20 or 30 faces on a small piece of paper or an index card just to loosen us up for the painting exercise.

Okey dokey, then.  Last night I attended a poetry even in Phoenix.  I wasn’t reading at this event (although I usually do)  so I was sat on a low sofa along the back wall of the venue.  Unfortunately I had a hard time seeing the performers over the people sitting in the chairs in front of me.  So while I listened, I doodled faces in my small Moleskine journal using only an 05 Micron pen.

AJTT wk6 Faces

Faces!  And, no, I did not draw the people who were at the event although there is one face in this group that looks remarkably like someone who frequently attends.

How do you get over your fear or your feeling that you cannot do something creative?  I usually just try it.  I might not post all of my efforts, but I do try it.

I hope you have a creative weekend!


Working Small

Yesterday, I felt overwhelmed with all of the art challenges I’ve become involved in.  I told myself that I would pare down to two groups that I’ve been involved with for most of this year.  In fact, I will be involved with three groups but two of them overlap their challenges.

These two groups have a challenge to create Artist Trading Cards (ATCs) which traditionally have been used by artists as either business cards with their contact info on the back or as art pieces to exchange with each other artists.  ATCs are very small (2.5″ by 3.5″), the size of a playing card.  For Altered Playing Card challenge we will be altering a full deck of playing cards by creating two ATCs per week for 26 weeks.  In the Fun Color challenge we will be creating from 1-5 ATCs per week using any media of the appropriate size. That challenge will continue only through this month and gives us prompts from which to choose.

The good news is that ATCs can be done very quickly….sometimes in as little as 10 or 15 minutes.  And I can use the same ATCs in both groups. Yes for working small!

Here are four ATCs I’ve created in the last eight days.

Color Fun vermillion forest
Vermillion Forest (on ATC watercolor cardstock).  Black Micron pen and Red Tombow marker with collaged text.

DY Color Fun Lemon-Doodle
Lemon Doodle (on ATC watercolor cardstock).  Black Micron pen and yellow Tombow marker.

DY Color Fun 7A Lavendar House
Lavendar House (on gesso’d playing card).  Grape Dylusions spray; black background text stamp; navy letters stamp; gelli print remants for house/roof/chimney; black Micron pen/white Signo broad pen/Stabilo All Aquarelle pencil for doodling and shading.

DY Color Fun 9D Charcoal Tulip
Charcoal Tulip (on black gesso’d playing card).  White Signo Broad pen for drawing, red Sharpie paint pen for highlights, text collage.

I hope you can make a small amount of time for creating every day too!

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More My Style

A quick and easy art journal  page and one that is much more my style than my last post (colorful and easy!).  This is based on the Art Journal Tangents and Tactics #AJT tutorial #5: Beach Umbrella from Tammy Garcia’s page.  If you’d like to see how to do it you can go to her page and click on the button on the right side of her home page.  It’s free!

Art Journal Tangent 5 Beach Umbrella

The quote comes from the lyrics to “Umbrella Beach” by Owl City.

I hope you have a creative day!

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Every Friday during August on Tammy Garcia provides us a new Art Journal video tutorial which we can then try out.  The Art Journal Tangents and Tactics tutorial for week #4 was to create a painted grid in our art journal and then collage tiny pieces of ephemera we had laying around onto the grid, journaling where we saw fit.

My perfectionism almost got the better of me on this challenge.  I tried to create a grid with colors I liked (per instructions) but I could not for the life of me get the size of the ‘squares’ even or the rows in the grid straight.  I tried four separate pages in my journal getting increasingly messy and un-grid-like with each page.  FRUSTRATION!

I finally went back to my very first page and finished it up by collaging and journaling per the tutorial.  I ended up liking my end result (below) and learned something in the process.  There is no right or wrong in art, no perfect or less than perfect.  Only the act of creating and a result that represents your vision, at least in part. I have to remember that, for this year at least, I am experimenting and trying out techniques.  I can’t fail if I am trying.  Gridlock broken.

ArtJournalTangetTactics 4

I hope you did something creative today!

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Quick and Dirty

Sometimes it seems we are too busy or too lazy or too mojo-less to create. Sometimes we have no inspiration.  Sometimes we don’t know where to start or where to end.  We get paralyzed by perfectionism or that dreaded blank white page. It happens.  How do you get past that so you don’t get blocked?  Do something quick, do something easy, do something messy.  At least that works for me.

I didn’t create much last week because I was busy with other things. I didn’t feel like doing much this week either although I had plenty of time on my hands.  So I pulled out my journals and just put paint to paper without getting too worked up about composition, color, or inspiration.  Getting started moves me forward.  Inspiration and commitment inevitably follows.

Here are four quick and dirty art journal pages I created this week just to get back in the groove.

Journal52 wk 32 Favorite Foods
Journal 52, week 32:  Favorite Foods.  The background was done using gel crayons (gelatos) blended with a water brush.  QUICK!  COLORING!  The rest was simple collage.  Easy peasy.

Journal52 week33 Gratitude

Journal 52 Week 33:  Gratitudes.  This page was done over a page in my journal where I had previously wiped blue paint off my brush.  I just added a scratchy sun in yellow and orange acrylics, pounced acrylic paint through a stencil for the ground, wrote out the word ‘gratitude’ in gel pens and collaged one of my favorite quotes.  Probably took 30 minutes tops and I wasn’t paralyzed by a blank white page.


These two pages were created side by side in my large Moleskine watercolor journal.  I did these in response to an Art Tangents & Tactics tutorial on . The objective was to paint and stamp and collage two messy pages (one for negativity or half-empty and one for positivity or half-full) and then journal on the pages about what half-empty or half-full means to you.   These were fun and easy to do and, though they will never win any art contests, they hold a lot of meaning for me.

I hope you are doing something creative this week!


The End… And the Beginning

It is July 31st, the last day of the Daisy Yellow Index Card a Day challenge for 2014.  Sixty-one days in June and July equals sixty-one (plus) index cards chock full of art.

Here is a display of the 67 cards I created for the ICAD2014 challenge:

Photos from Jul 30, 2014

So what have I learned from participating in this challenge?

  • I can complete a challenge.  I love starting new projects but follow-through is not my strong suit.  What made this one different?  For starters, it didn’t take too much of my time each day.  Maybe 30 minutes.  And it was A.R.T!
  • Participating in a group where sharing and cameraderie are present makes a huge difference to success.  Even professional artists were more than willing to share their techniques and had nothing but good things to say about the efforts of all members of the group.
  • If you are in a group, praise people’s effort even if you think you can’t praise their product.  This is like giving gold stars for participating.  People (I) crave affirmation and are more willing to participate when their efforts are seen and commented on.
  • Experimentation is good.  If a challenge or project goes on for any period of time, it can become boring or it might start feeling like a chore rather than a privilege.  When that happens I have found that I can keep going if I try something I’ve never tried before (a new technique, a new product, a new concept).  Not all of the experiments will work as expected but, even if they fail, you have learned something.
  • That leads me to something else I learned:  post your mistakes, your ugly output, your not-quite-what-was-expected pieces.  It is humbling to show your imperfect self and your imperfect output. But your humility, as well as an explanation of what didn’t work and why, will help you later on when you try again and it will help others too.  People like knowing that you are as human as they are.
  • I want to mix it up.  There are people who want to keep creating an index card every day until next year’s ICAD challenge.  Kudos to them. Really!  But I already know that won’t work for me.  Give me a new challenge, a different challenge.  I like novelty.  I like learning.  I don’t like doing the same thing day after day.
  • The discipline of doing something creative on a regular basis seems to spawn the creative spirit.  All of a sudden, I have inspiration seeping out of my pores. Ideas for art journal pages, mixed media paintings, ATCs, monoprinting, photography and even poetry are coming to me faster than I could ever create them.  Maybe I ought to write down my ideas.

Thanks to Tammy Garcia and her Daisy Yellow Index Card a Day challenges!  If you’d like to participate in any of her artistic challenges, you can find out more on her website: