Changing Direction

At the beginning of the year, I created a vision board. I’ve been creating one or two a year for about five years. This one was all about what inspired me. There were things I thought I’d like to make and colors I was drawn to. It didn’t stay that way for long. In March, my vision board did not reflect how I was feeling, but most of the colors stayed the same. Now, nature inspires me. Going on little walks and wandering in my own backyard made me feel that all I needed was to be in nature and experience all its beauty. I made a small vision board that reflected this renew love of the outdoors.

I love flowers, trees, and mountains with creeks and streams in and around rocks, covered by mossy slime in the most vibrant greens. After I created my nature vision board that I call “The Dirt”, I had dreams of making art with dirt and mud, rocks, and brick dust in a muddy stream that made me want to cry with joy. I hung these works on a clothesline under a freeway overpass. I’m not sure why there was a freeway in this dream. I have had this dream a few times and think that I need to explore its contents.  

 I explored different styles by taking nature inspired online classes. I followed the class lesson as close as I could and pushed myself into using colors that had not excited me before. The styles did not grow on me but the colors did. They all seemed to be the colors of  nature experiences that underscored my entire life. I found new surfaces to try. Raw canvas and Ampersand’s aquabord™ really got my creative juices flowing. I stumbled on to other artist that were exploring some of these same things and that helped me in my direction.

The forest floor, what happens in nature, and what makes things grow makes me think of the rich colors of the forest and what feeds that system. These elements are some of the things that feed me. What happens when seasons come and go? Things change at the end of summer. Leaves, and flowers fade, die, or go dormant, resting for the next year. Temperatures cool and rain comes to add to the resting, creating a pot of things: branches, leaves, dead things but new growth of moss, mushrooms, and lichens. A new life comes as one recedes. The decay and growth of the autumn and winter life add to the earth.Those things lie back and breath in the damp. Sticks crack under foot — moving that decomposition of pine cones, leaves, needles and bugs that have finished their life but add to the ecosystem of the forest.

I see my art life like this. I do not think I’m stuck or that ideas have dried up. There is no block. The only block is what I place on myself. This is the time of resting, falling back and studying and observing my art as I think and plan for the rebirth of the art I want to make. The art that brings me joy and conveys the feeling of this nature to others.  Do I move forward by creating something? What if I change? What does that say about me? I’m not lost just bringing my passions forward. I have many and you might also. Think of it like rolling over a rock. The earth below the rock is sometimes hard and cracked. My art has sometimes seemed that way. The rains come, temperatures cool, and the earth gets wet and soft and earthworms come up to bathe in the dampness. I introduce a different medium to create with and explore its possibilities. I am the rock in the forest, set in a space for awhile making a dent in the earth, sinking in until something turns it over. Moving out of that rut can be painful. But we stay in that place so long, we don’t realize what else we could do and how we can be refreshed. If you want to refer to that as “stuck,” I guess that would be your idea. I’d rather say I’m growing like the earth beneath the rock. I’m becoming someone, something else. I’m letting the rain of a new medium or subject sink into me, creating a place for new art to grow and evolve. I’m still me. I’ve only added new ideas, supplies, and my attitudes to this art-making.

I study nature and the different natural elements. On walks, I pick up rocks, twigs, pine cones and at the beach I bring home all the sea shells my pockets will hold. They overflow with dirty rocks and all the other things.

These have become my inspiration. Along with new paints, papers and other surfaces, I will create paintings about nature, our environment and what happens when we don’t take care of it. I’ll create from what has been a deep love for me, and now I have found a way to communicate that in my art. 

Making Neutrals with Complimentary Colors

Greetings Artists,

We are still artists, and we need to create now more than ever. I want to encourage you to send me photos of your work and or questions as you create. We will make art and work on lessons to feed us through this time.

So here’s a lesson for you to try. Get your color wheel out. If you don’t have one, find one on the internet.

This is my color wheel.

Pick two complementary colors (complementary colors, using any two colors directly opposite each other on the wheel.)

I chose blue and orange.

I used watercolors, but you can do this with acrylic paints also.

I used Cobalt Blue because it is as close to Primary Blue as you can get. I also used  Halloween  Orange for my orange. Just choose what is closest to the color on the color wheel.

These watercolors are different brands. So we will see what happens. You might have heard me say that different brands might work differently. And that each brand might have its own mix of a particular color. But let’s look at what happened.

The first row is the orange and blue watercolors with a little water added.

The second row is orange, with a bit of blue added. And a lot of orange with a lot of blue added.

We tend to think that complementary colors mixed will make “mud”. And yes, they can. But they can also make some good neutrals (a balanced combination of white and black.)  We can do a whole lesson on Neutrals besides using black and white.

Look at the little square of almost black below the orange and blue. Here, I added a lot of each color. This is a wonderful black and this black that will work in a painting of orange and blue that needs some darks. It works because it is the 2 colors that are in the painting.

Now, look at the blue circle to the left that has a brown in it. It was like the orange circle with blue in it that made the beautiful black.  

And see the brown rectangle below it?

 Not the most pretty, some might say. But it is a brown that would work in a painting with these complementary colors. All this also hinges on how much water we add, how much paint we add, and then if they are true to each other as a true orange and true blue.

At the bottom right is how the pigments pushed against each other. What is the stronger pigment? When I painted this swatch, the blue was pulled into the orange to make that brown. But if the orange was higher quality, it might have pushed into the blue.

These are all things to explore as an artist. It’s not always about making a painting. If we learn how our paints act and what works and what doesn’t, we become more confident in painting. We know or at least can see we have more options and things that we have never tried before. And that’s what keeps us excited and more creative.

As I said, you can do the same thing with acrylics. Don’t water down the paint, though. When using heavy body acrylics (in tubes mostly), this lesson will be a challenge. Some mixing on palette paper might help. Use more paint or less paint. Just try and see what you can get.

This last one is violet and yellow. I had to make my violet, so that might have made some difference also. 

Image from Nice,C.
Down by the Sea With Brush and Pen: Draw and Paint Beautiful Coastal Scenes.
Northlight Books, 2009

Becoming Mindful with Meditative Art

“Art is a natural way to practice mindfulness. The colors, textures, and sounds of creating pulls us into the moment. You don’t need any previous training to mediate through art, just a willingness to draw like a child, with freedom and a sense of curiosity.”

Amy Johnson Maricle

Hosted by Art Supply Warehouse at their Catalyst art space. Play with high flow acrylics and pens during this no pressure class with Aleta Jacobson. You will make multiple small meditative pieces of art using gelly pens, markers and more to alter designs. Get to try out a variety of techniques and materials.

Event Details

What: Meditative Arts workshop

When: Saturday, June 29, 2019, 10 a.m.-1 p.m.

Where: Catalyst Art Space (map)

Cost: $45

18+ only | all skill levels welcome | all materials provided

Register: Art Supply Warehouse

The Gelli Printed Codex: How to Use a Gelli Plate, Create Handmade Art Books

“Books are a uniquely portable magic.”

Stephen King

In conjunction with San Diego Book Arts, I will be teaching a new workshop on the many uses of a Gelli Arts Printing Plate in the context of a hand-made art book.

Come explore magic of your own creating as you explore the wonderful world of Gelli Arts. Guided by award-winning artist and instructor, Aleta Jacobson, you will begin your weekend with an immersive arts experience, using Gelli Arts Printing Plates to create art prints that are uniquely your own. 

You will learn the ins-and-outs of using a Gelli Plate and create colorful art prints on paper and fabric using stencils, feathers, string, mark-making tools, customized stamps, and hand cut masks. Each technique will be an exercise in self-discovery and risk-taking as you learn to layer objects onto your prints to form unique, expressive images that will be bound together in a handmade, fabric-bound art book. Then, Aleta will show you how to make and use washi tape, stickers, and ephemera to turn your book into its own work of art.

Take a risk; get inspired; explore all your creativity has to offer!

Event Details

What: The Gelli Printed Codex
A 2-day workshop with Aleta Jacobson

When: Saturday, April 27, 2019-Sunday, April 29, 2019, 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.

Where: Fallbrook School of the Arts (map)

Member-Early Enrollment: $184
Member: $230
Non-Member: $305

Materials Fee: $20

Register: San Diego Book Arts

Spring Ahead Sale 2018

Screen Shot 2018-03-10 at 8.14.20 AM

As some of you know, I have a burgeoning shop on I’ve found the site to be incredibly artist friendly and a great way to earn some passive income. Customers can shop any number of products featuring artwork from a myriad of artists across the globe. Society6 is a great resource for home goods, apparel, gifts, accessories for your technology, and above all else…ART!

Starting 12 a.m. Sunday, March 11, shoppers can earn 25% off everything on the site during their 2018 Spring Ahead Sale! Make sure you use the promo code: SPRINGAHEAD at check-out and be sure to give my shop a gander and maybe throw some business my way when you do! Shop my Society6

Moving On

Sometimes we need to listen to what some call — the inner voice. Or you might say the universe is trying to tell me something. I have not been listening for awhile.
I’ve told my students to paint/create from the heart. It’s in us. Everything you need is already there. It’s in all of us. Finding and listening to that inner voice or the universe can be difficult. We think we know it all. But if we were honest with ourselves we’d see we don’t know it all. We have tendency to just leave things where they are. It’s going along. No need to disturb a thing at rest. But where is the adventure?


I’ve been humming along with my business, 511 Art Studio for over ten years. The past six years I have had 511 Art Studio as a stand alone space for artists to come and create. People that wanted to learn a medium could come, create and enjoy making art. I’ve had lessons, classes, workshops, open studio time, and private lessons. I had up to six different teachers coming in and teaching at the studio. The studio is booming. As with all businesses there is paperwork. Taxes, keeping supplies on hand, keeping track of the other teachers as contractors, and attendance of students, plus scheduling every body and every class has been a full time job in itself. But I have done it all. I’m not trying to show off here. I just want you to see that running an art studio is a big job.
My business sense come from working for Hallmark Cards for over ten years back in the 90’s. Hallmark was the top at business and they would not accept anything less from their account reps or district trainers (my two jobs while I was there).


Things clicked with the studio and I just held on for the ride. I’ve met a lot of great people, have wonderful students and each time one of them won a ribbon or sold a piece I was a proud Mamma. I’ve seen children grow up and become artists in their own way. After teaching for over fifteen years and having the 511 Art Studio open for over six years, I’m listening to my inner voice. It’s been a tapping on my shoulder. “It’s time, go make your art again.” For the last six months or so, friends and artist friends, have said I was doing too much. I was told if I don’t slow down and refuel I won’t create the art I want to create. And because this has been my goal, to help others be creative and make art, I need to follow my own words. Create every day, even if it is just a little sketch. Bring more art into the world. We need it. We need to create art because I believe that art makes the world a softer place. Even the wild, crazy, and emotionally jarring art makes us softer. So many people tell me that they are not creative and I’ve proved them wrong. It brings me so much pleasure when they say, “I didn’t think I could do it.”


“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose…”

This is my time. My time to move 511 Art Studio back to my home. My time to create more. My time to have a more relaxed atmosphere for my students. I will still have classes, private lessons, and open studio time once I get my space set up to accommodate a group larger than four. Maybe once in awhile I’ll have one day workshops.
Change is difficult. I know that and understand that some will have issues and challenges. But I will help them through that, just as I helped the learn to create, paint, and draw.

“The only thing that is constant is change.” –Heraclitus

Thank you to art teachers, students, partners, business associates, fellow artists, and most of all, family and friends that have supported along this journey.

Stay tuned for updates. I will be posting my move and renovation of 511 Art Studio.

Stencil Girl’s Blog

Mixed Media Collage - Just A Mirage

This is the link to my guest blog post for StencilGirlTalk blog. Enjoy.

I am so honored to be a guest blogger for Stencil Girl. I am a bit of a stencil freak and a big fan for Stencil Girl.  When they said let us see what you got I ran with it. Some of my faves are used to create new and unusual things. Let me know what you think. I would love to hear from you.

Please follow the link above.

Happy Art Making, every day.

Mixed Media Collage - Justa Mirage
Justa Mirage


Design, Memory, Craft… by Faber-Castell

The company Faber-Castell has been an art supply company since 1761.

Doing the quick math… 255 years. That in itself is amazing. I was a fan with their fine art products from early in my art life. I bought a sketchbook in Italy when I was there on a 2 month art exploration lead by my Girl Scout leader. I still have the book someplace. Faber-Castell are the pencils to have. I still have some from my high school and college days. Now I have more of their products to be thrilled with.

I do love art supplies. And the quality of Faber-Castell are the best. A little side note is that they support the Biodiversity in Good Company initiative. They care about the artists and the environment. Their carbon emissions are offset several times over with how they produce art products.


Delicious Gelatos etc.

The newest line Design, Memory, Craft is no exception for quality and versatility. These Gelatos, Inks, Textures and tools are for mixed media and paper crafters. I am in love with them. There are 52 wonderful colors, I’m drooling. These are art sticks, that are creamy, vibrant pigment, water-soluble and permanent. But not the Italian ice cream. Which by the way, these creamy art sticks have the feel of painting with lipstick.  They can be used with or without water and work well on any porous surface. I read a blog post on the Faber-Castell web site by a friend and fellow designer/artist, Laura Bray, about Faber-Castell Gelatos. She used the Gelatos to paint on fabric and then sewed the piece into a very nice bag to carry your art supplies.  But you can do so much more with them also.


20160113_130459So I got to thinking that if you can use these creamy sticks of soft beauty on fabric to paint why not use in a fine art piece. I wanted to play with the colors and texture medium that came in one of the sets I bought. The first set (yes I have more now), came with 5 Gelatos, a palette knife, Texture Luxe, stencils, stipple brush, dot dabber, misting bottles, and drip dropper. I tore open the package. I didn’t have anything in mind other than I wanted to try these on a canvas and make art. I was not disappointed.


Adding the Texture Lux in silver.



I think I will add some paper to this piece and maybe some more color but while it dries….

My last thoughts.

I want to open people up to new ideas. I want people to be adventurous with their art and supplies. I get a buzz when my students discovers something new. Or if they get excited about what they are creating when they didn’t think they could or their work and creative process is an eye opener for them. This feeds my soul as an artist to see them grow and learn.  Just because something is “suppose” to be for one type of art doesn’t mean it can’t be used for other things too.


I had an art escape with a canvas, Gelatos, palette knife, Texture Lux, paintbrush and water.

When we close ourselves off of one kind of art or art supply we limit our creativity. And I believe that when we do that we don’t grow as artists. I wish everyone an adventure in their art and to create from the heart.


Color, Color, Color

Artwork by Chris Cozen


The first meeting I had with Chris Cozen was at a local stamp store. Remember those? She was the teacher of a workshop that I was going to take. Chris had taught there many times and is a friend of the owner. I didn’t know Chris, and even though I had shopped in that store for years our paths never crossed.

At the workshop we created collage/mixed media on Plexiglass.  We created a few pieces and I was hooked. Such a helpful and giving teacher. She has been a teacher, mentor, and inspiration for me for 15 years. Most of that time she didn’t know that I wanted to learn from her. Anything that had her name on it, in it or she was teaching that I could get to, I was there. A wonderful person and a dear friend that I am so lucky to know.

I have written reviews before for a few friends when their books came out. This is the first review I have written for Chris. I have been amiss.

“Acrylic Color Explorations”  is one of the best books I have read on acrylics and color. It is a journey of discovery with each page being a new idea and fun technique to try. It is a true workbook. If you travel through  and work each idea and technique, at the end of your journey you will come out the other side knowing so much more about color. It will be a true awakening. Or if you are a newbie you’ll get your color techniques down right out of the gate.

I was able to see the book before it was released when Chris and I met at her home to talk art, art business and we grabbed a relaxed dinner. This is the way she teaches and how she writes her books. Relaxed. It’s about fun. It’s about explorations. Never tense or hurried. Art should be fun and meaningful to the artist. “If you are not having fun you need to change that,” I have heard Chris say many times.

Chris was a working artist for Golden Acrylics for many years, and knows acrylics inside and out. She can talk and lecture (and still does for Golden), on acrylics and compounds. But delivers the information in an easy to follow manner.

This book is a classic and a must have for any artist, seasoned or newbie.

Thank you Chris Cozen for the journey into color and your friendship.


Acrylic Color Explorations: Painting Techniques for Expressing Your Artistic Voice

See you at CHA!


Hello CHA Hoppers,

Last year was my first time at CHA. I had no idea what it even was. For those of you that don’t know the Craft and Hobby Association (CHA), here’s the story: This association is “celebrating  75 years of connecting the creative arts and crafts industry. CHA Mega Conference and Trade Show is the only place where you can conduct a year’s worth of business in 6 days” (

I am an artist that uses many different elements in my work. I also teach classes at my studio. Why would I want to go to a trade show that has manufacturers that sellbig orders to stores? Because I get inspired by art supplies. I get inspired when I can touch and feel the products. And I get inspired by meeting people that are very passionate about the products they demo. Plus, it is always great to meet people of like mind that love to create beautiful things to look at and/or use.  There are many other things to learn and see at CHA also: demos, hands-on labs, boot camps on business, workshops, artisan workshops, and business seminars are just a few.

Last year, I fell into CHA at the eleventh hour and was only able to attend on the  final day. I was one sad puppy, kitty, or otter….insert the cute animal of your choice.  I found out about CHA from my business coach, Laura Bray, who will be posting at the blog hop tomorrow. She is also the daughter of a friend that I admire most, Laura Miller.

At the very last moment, my membership was accepted. After phone calls back and forth, I would have a badge waiting for me and my assistant. I only  had to drive the 30 minutes to Anaheim, CA. I was there before the door was to open and connected with the registration/information desk and got my badge. Then I took a selfie, went to the restroom, and was on my way. I had a mission. I was Ethan Hunt.



As soon as the door opened, I poured into the convention floor. I was a squirrel, darting back and forth trying to get everything in as soon as I could. I got tired very quickly. Some of the booths were already shut down. It was the last day and they were ready to travel back to their homes from all over the world. I didn’t get to meet many people, but some were still doing demos and giving out great information. I did get my inspiration that I was hopping for, but at a very low key. My assistant and I took a break and decided we would look at the map and go in a more organized manner. That is what I usually do when I go to craft fairs or art shows, anyway. I felt the panic leave and I was able to focus.  I saw every booth with demos and without, and got enough information to get the brain in creative mode.

The key is, you must plan. You must be organized. You can’t wait. Classes fill EARLY.  Not all manufacturers can stay to the very last moment. They have to travel. I wish I had done my homework early and planned and got myself to a point where I knew what CHA was before I jumped in. But, I am going back this year, January 7-12, 2016 at the Anaheim Convention Center,  Anaheim, CA. I will be organized this time. I know about round tables and demos and classes. I will do more than just walk by the Business Center. CHA is very supportive of small business and many services are offered for members like me, and  brick and mortar businesses. Classes and guidance are also available.

I did get a lot of information last year. I was in a spin. It took a good month to finally sort it all out and sink in. What I did was not the prefered. It did not do CHA justice.  But, I will this year.


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