Ain't No Ninny

Where Creativity and Everyday Life Collide


Hope is the thing…

Today Dawn DeVries Sokol put out her second set of prompts for the 12.31 holiday art journal workshop. Every Tuesday and Friday she gives a thought prompt as well as a word of the day, a quote of the day, a song of the day and a suggested visual focus for your page.  None of these are required.  The prompts are there to provide inspiration for your holiday art journaling, if you need them.  If you are interested in finding out more about her free 12.31 workshop, you can find it here: .

The only prompt that called to me today was her visual focus which was to create a shape on the page using torn bits and pieces of paper and then to doodle and/or journal on or around the shape.  I already had a tall and narrow piece of red scrapbook paper as a page in the journal so I decided to use that as the base.  My first thought was to create a cross, which I did.  But that cross morphed into the shape of a Christmas star so I decided to go with that. The shape of the Christmas star reminded me a little of a tree so I drew a bird on one of the branches (rays).  I doodled and collaged scalloped shapes around the bottom and sides of the page and then doodled over the star.  I wrote the word HOPE on top of the scallops at the bottom of the page. I’m not sure where that came from, but it seemed to fit. Then I doodled small white and black stars on the background to mirror the large one.   I used Posca paint pens, a Fude ball pen in black,  and a white Signo Broad pen for all of my doodling.


As I was looking over the page, the word HOPE and the bird came together in my mind and I journaled the first verse of Emily Dickinson’s poem “Hope Is the Thing With Feathers” in the center of the bottom scallops.  For those who are unfamiliar with that poem it reads:

Hope is the thing with feathers

By Emily Dickinson

Hope is the thing with feathers  
That perches in the soul,  
And sings the tune without the words,  
And never stops at all,  
And sweetest in the gale is heard;          
And sore must be the storm  
That could abash the little bird  
That kept so many warm.  
I’ve heard it in the chillest land,  
And on the strangest sea;         
Yet, never, in extremity,  
It asked a crumb of me.

I rather like my patchwork Christmas star/cross and its association with Emily Dickinson’s poem.  Christmas (the birth of Christ) is, after all, associated with hope in the hearts of many.

This was an interesting creative exercise, pulling almost everything from some source inside that had nothing to do with planning or thought.  I love that about creativity.  It has much to do with intuition and process and less to do with the end product.

I hope you find some time in your day to creatively express your own intuition!



Art Every Day – Day 4 (NaNoJouMo)

Today I again decided to use Dawn Sokol’s NaNoJouMo prompt for the day.  Much like yesterday, I knew I would have little time to create so I did not want to think too much.

The prompt, another song title, was “How Far This Road Goes” by Garth Dunlop.  I had not heard of the song so I went to YouTube to see if there was a video of the song and lyrics.  Sure enough, there was.  The song was used in both ‘Discover Ireland” TV commercials as well as a song in the TV series “Separated at Birth”. In it, Garth Dunlop is singing to a woman, asking her to take a trip with him (in life or on the roads).  The bridge of the song is “Let’s see just how far this road goes”.
Day 4 How Far This Road Goes - Garth Dunlop

I decided to draw a long winding road with trees on either side in Autumn colors.  I wanted  a fox to run along the road at some point to show movement.  I started off using Prismacolor colored pencils for the road, the trees, the fox, and the lettering.  Those smudged so I erased the smudges and outlined everything in black Fude pen.  I used a white Signo broad pen for highlights.  I used Adirondack inks in green and gold, blended with alcohol, to created the leaf-strewn ground.  The whole page took me about 30 minutes.

I look forward to next week when I should have a little more time for creating every day.


StencilGirl StencilClub Stencil Play

I love stencils.  I sometimes use them to create central figures in my art journal and mixed media paintings but most often I use them for background texture or added elements.  I have found many stencils I like from various manufacturers but my favorite this year are by StencilGirl Products (  The stencils are created by artists for artists and there are hundreds of stencils to choose from.  If you join their monthly StencilClub, you will receive exclusive stencils each month that will never be released to the general public, as well as video tutorials on how the stencils could be used.  I belong to their StencilClub.

Today I had no destination in mind except that I wanted to use the September StencilClub stencils.  There are three stencils in that package, all designed by famed mixed media artist Andrew Borloz.  The package contains a 9″x12″ stencil, a 6″x6″, and a 4″x4″ with coordinating designs.  You can see a photo of the stencils here:

I decided to start with a page out of my Canson 7″x10″ mixed media journal that I had used to clean off a StencilGirl stencil by Jessica Sporn (Namaste) from a different project.  It is the lacy green paint that shows in the background.  I also cleaned off my paintbrush from the same project on that page (swipes of white and lavendar acrylics).  Unfortunately I did not take a photo of the page at the start but you can see the background in the finished product, below.

Art Journal Dance with the Butterflies

Starting at the left hand side of the page, I used purple Liquitex Basics acrylic paint and Andrew Borloz’s 9×12 stencil to create the large purple acrylic scallops as well as the lacy looking dots and scallops just to the right of it.  I then used the outside of his 6×6 stencil to create the purple scallops at the top and bottom of the page.  I still wasn’t sure where I was going at that point but the scallops and circles made me think of lacy butterflies.  So I took a large chipboard butterfly mask I’ve had for ages (don’t remember the brand) and created two overlapping butterflies on the page using purple acrylic paint and outlining with purple gel pens.  I then added the three small shapes from Andrew’s 4×4 stencil under the butterflies in green acrylic to bring more green into the page.

Seeing the page at that point made me think of the phrase “Dancing with Butterflies”.  So I found a magazine photo of a dancer that would fit on the page and I cut it out and glued it to the page with gel medium.  The colors of the figure were all wrong so I painted over the entire cut-out with acrylics in Paynes Gray and two different flesh tones.  Then I doodled all over the page with a white Signo Broad UM-153 pen.  I also added the journaled words “Dance with the butterflies” in white over the large purple scallops on the left side of the page.

Done!  I always love the color combination of purple and green and I think the scalloped stencils by Andrew Borloz really frame the page.  I can’t wait to use his stencils for other projects too!

I hope you do something creative today also!

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A Bee-You-Ti-Full Experiment

The Universe has been conspiring to make me experiment in my art journal.  Over the last several days, three art-related groups I participate in have had ‘experimentation’ as the goal.  Chelle Stein at set this week’s prompt to “EXPERIMENT!” and told us to experiment with techniques or supplies we had not used before.  Tammy Garcia at posted an Art Journal Tangent and Tactics video called “Paradise” with the instruction of using heavy body acrylics and a stencil and letting our art journal pages take us where they wanted to go, i.e. EXPERIMENT.  Connie Hozvicka at posted an Art Journal Wisdom tutorial (Day 7) called… guessed it!…..EXPERIMENT.

Okay, so I experimented!  I started with a two-page spread in my 7×10 art journal on which I had wiped heavy black acrylic off my brush from another project.  I had also stamped an unmounted stamp that I had just received to see how it would look without mounting it on a block (not too good).

P1020529Step 1: Where I started

Next I used my favorite 9×12 ‘mod’ stencil from Joggles and Radiant Rain Shimmering Mists in hot pink and blue  that I received in a grab bag of art supplies and had never tried out.  The next two images show the effect of spraying the mists through the stencil onto the spread.  The closeup shows  the shimmer of the mists on  the black paint but overall the shimmer isn’t really noticeable.

P1020530 P1020533Step 2:   Radiant Rain Shimmering Mists through Joggles Stencil

Next I decided to collage onto the pages. I went through the stash of small collage elements that I had sitting in a box on my desk.  I randomly chose a few and collaged them to the journal pages using gel medium.  I found out that the Radiant Rain shimmering mists are permanent and do NOT re-activate with moisture. That’s a good thing.

P1020534Step 3:  Adding collage elements

After completing the collage and letting the gel medium dry, I finished up the pages by outlining the collage elements with Crayola Portfolio Oil Pastels (which I had never tried before); doodling in various places with a white Signo Broad pen and/or a black Fude pen; hand-lettering ‘Bee-You-Ti-Full Experiment’ on the right page. The final pages can be seen below.


P1020536 P1020539

Step 4:  Doodle and journal to finish pages

I have to say, I had fun doing these pages!  I had no expectations and I really got into the flow of things.  Do I love the end product?  Not really.  I do love the grunge look that the black paint brought to the spread and I love individual pieces of the two pages but I think that overall the spread is too busy for my taste and is without any real discernable focal points.  I’m pretty sure I would have liked it better with just the black paint, shimmering mists, and some doodles (and maybe a tiny piece of collage on each page).

But I EXPERIMENTED!  That’s what is important.  I learned about products I hadn’t used before.  I learned what I like and don’t like.  I got out of my head and let the art take me to an unknown destination.  And I love that!  My journal pages may not be beautiful but they are BEE-YOU-ti-FULL!

I hope you do something creative also this beautiful Autumn Sunday!