06 December 2010

The Warriors of Winter


From beyond the window of my little room I can hear the wind barreling through the branches of the bare trees. Today it is icy cold and my nose and fingertips turn pink when I venture outdoors.

My absence from My Peacetree over Thanksgiving was quite unintentional, and I do feel it necessary to offer a bit of an explanation. While 2009 was a year of Being Stuck, 2010 has been a year of overwhelming and astonishing Change. I moved to a new city, then to a new state and new school; I have been finding new friends, having new experiences, making new adjustments, and meeting new challenges, and my mind has been struggling to be present in and to process all that I've been through in eleven short months.

I encountered still more change when two weekends ago I went home for a traditional family homecoming. I arrived, instead of the house I know and love, to a new home in a new town with new soon-to-be step siblings and step father. A good deal of the time since arriving back at University last week has been spent slowing wading through the mudslide of emotion that buried me during the Thanksgiving holiday.


December arrived with quite a presence, rainy and grey, eager to fulfill its duties as the first winter month. Woolen sweaters and thick scarves have dominated my wardrobe as of late, and I am on the lookout for a warm, sturdy pair of boots to carry me through the winter.

I do not for a minute believe that it is too soon to think about New Years resolutions and hopes, dreams, and goals for 2011; the speed at which this year is passing guarantees that January will be here in a heartbeat. Therefore, I propose that this the last word of the month for this year should be savor.

Drink in every moment. Reminisce about the old year, and dream about the new. Savor this beautiful time between the end and the beginning, and embrace the magnitude of what is to come. In this month, live fully. Breathe deeply. Notice and appreciate the small things; savor the big and the beautiful things. Immerse yourself in the inner and outer worlds!


I have sadly accepted that my presence here simply cannot be as regular as it has been in the past; this is another change, a significant one, and one which prompts me to let go of my expectations of "How a Blog Should Be". My posts' frequency will simply have to ebb and flow as the world around me allows. I absolutely do not want to give up this beautiful project that has given me so much as introduced me to such lovely, kind, creative individuals, and have high hopes that at some point in the future I will be able to blog with more regularity.

Thank you so very much for your understanding, dearests. Much love to you all.

02 December 2010

Quick Note

Hello, my beauties!

Finals are approaching and I have been so very, very busy. If you can bear with me, I will post December's word of the month this weekend and give you some explanation for my absence. I hope you are well. Miss you all!


14 November 2010

A Dreamer's World

I love to be alone. I never found the companion
that was so companionable as solitude.
~ Henry David Thoreau

I am a dreamer and an introvert, through and through.

Though I enjoy being with people and if I am by myself too often I become restless and lonely, I deeply treasure my alone time. I truly enjoy sitting with myself in silence, writing, internet-ing, and creating when I can find the time. I take myself on walks every now and then, and try to foster a still, peaceful mind.

My journey to being comfortable with myself has not been an easy one; over the past few years I have struggled, fought, and tried to change who I am, but with time and a huge amount of effort and patience I have come closer to loving myself exactly for who I am, accepting the flaws and imperfections and celebrating (not hiding) the things I like. I must always remind myself to be gentle, kind, and loving towards myself - because that is what I and every one of you deserve.

Yet this habit of mine, of wanting to spend quiet time with myself, tends to push people away. I have difficulty making and keeping friends, for so many of the people I meet are far more active and social than I. How I wish I were able to find those quiet imaginative folk who would be perfectly content to write, paint, or dream the day away! And how grateful I am to meet many of you here in this lovely space.

Oh, I wish that we could go on a walk together! We could wonder about the changing leaves and the soaring birds; we could drink tea and play soft music; we could draw each other and laugh at the silly way I drew your nose. We could imagine what tomorrow would be like, and dream about whom we want to become in the years that lie ahead...

My loves, if you feel the same as I do - a daydreamer separate from the world - know that you are not in the least bit alone. There are individuals all over the world wishing for someone just like you to come play and explore and imagine. Be patient, my loves; we'll find each other some day.

12 November 2010

The Artist's Way

In September, I was instructed by one of my professors to choose and read one of several books. I first picked up one that was small and aged, but I soon put it down and instead picked one that said something about creativity and spirituality on the cover, two subjects that always hook me. Amazingly, it happened to be a book I knew well, though I'd never actually read it - after four pages I realized with a quite start that this book was The Artist's Way, written by Julia Cameron, the creator of morning pages. I had been wanting to read it for quite some time.

I first came across the idea of morning pages much earlier in the year. Morning pages are the daily practice of writing three pages by hand; the catch is that, once one begins, one is not allowed to stop the pen until the three pages are complete. I tried them for a month or two, then life distracted me and I moved on to new projects. I still mean to do them, yet, as so often happens, forget in the fast-paced flow of the day.

This book inspired me so much that I purchased it for myself before I had even finished reading it. Though it was written as a structured, twelve week long course on nurturing your inner artist, it is in fact quite readable and easily done on one's own or in an informal group. The pages are chalk full of exercises, ideas, meditations, insights, quotes, and so, so much more. It is perfectly appropriate both for those who have never felt comfortable with calling themselves an artist and have never laid brush to a page or put a story on a page, and those who are familiar with or long time participants of the art world.

I first read the book all the way through, skipping the exercises. I will go back through my own copy and work my way through its pages with a pencil in hand. The Artist's Way is a resource you will go to again and again when the inner critic starts to whisper, friends or family doubt your abilities, you struggle with justifying your passion, or need a dose of inspiration.

It must be mentioned that Julia uses the words like "God" and "spirituality" quite often during the book. This is what she says in the introduction about her use of these words:
"When the word God is used in these pages, you may substitute the thought good orderly direction or flow. What we are talking about is a creative energy. God is useful shorthand for many of us, but so is Goddess, Mind, Universe, Source, and Higher Power .... The point is not what you name it. The point is that you try using it."
If you can keep an open mind, you are sure to enjoy what insight she has to offer.

If you'd like to find out more about this book, you can check it out on Amazon - at the moment it's on sale for $10! You can also visit Julia Cameron's website here.

07 November 2010

Note to Self

Dear Self,

Hello, lovely. I've been neglecting you. Sometimes with all the bustle and stress of everyday life, I forget that you are the very most important thing, and for this I am deeply sorry. You deserve so much better than that.

I take you for granted all too often, and I desperately want to change this. I promise that I will try harder to treat you the way you deserve to be treated. I will allow you the sleep you need. I will feed you well. I will give you more time to be creative and I will I will allow you to fear and dream and hope and to be sad; I won't pretend that those feelings don't exist. I will tell you that I love you - often. I will dance with you and sing with you and I will do my best to make you feel beautiful and enchanting.

You deserve that.
We deserve that.

With so much love,

01 November 2010

Summer, Good Night

Dear November,

You arrived this morning with a rush of cold air, and I wore my winter coat all day for the first time this year. It is now the midst of autumn and I can ignore that fact no longer! October's leaves are absolutely beautiful, most still clinging to the trees and many floating enchantingly down to cover the chilly earth. Nights are frigid and the frost will come soon. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the New Year wait around the corner, much closer than we think.

Last month was a bit of a challenge for me as I began and continue to relearn how to balance work and play. I must admit that I did not work on a single page of my art journal last month. My creative endeavors, in fact, were limited to a knitted circular scarf, currently waiting for a finishing crochet border; a homemade Halloween costume; and painted fabric waiting to be made into art dolls. Of course, many doodles were made among my class notes, and now happily dance with my handwriting when the pages are closed. I wrote a ten page play for a class as well.

Are you, perhaps in a similar situation? Darling, if your free time to paint or creative inklings ebb and flow, I must gently remind you that this means that you are no less of an artist than if you were sewing, drawing, sculpting, writing, or painting every hour of every day. Everyday life is something that happens, well, everyday - to every single one of us. It is natural and it is inevitable, and you have no need to be ashamed. Being an artist does in no way mean you must give up life as you know it, but it is true also that life as you know it should not prevent you from being an artist. You must never give up trying to follow your passions, even if you only spend a few minutes each day or week on them!

I believe the noun perseverance is the appropriate for the new word of the month - the long trek through the dark winter months can be difficult and disheartening, yet we must remember and dream of the beautiful, luscious spring that awaits on the other side. The only thing to do is persevere. Here I come!


PS. 50% off Etsy sale going on now! Please go here for more information.

29 October 2010

Etsy Sale

There is a 50% off sale on all prints in my Etsy shop - and shipping is completely free! (This link has been fixed.)

All photos are vibrantly colored and are beautifully, professionally printed on matte paper, ready to be framed, used in art, or used in an inspiration board. A bit of cardstock could easily be adhered to the back; add a note and a stamp and you have a one-of-a-kind postcard to send to a friend!

This sale will continue until November 29th when I will be temporarily closing my store. Do please stop by and take a look! I also encourage you to browse my Flickr photostream and let me know which images you like, and I will do my best to have these printed for a future sale. You may email me at mypeacetree2 (at) gmail (dot) com.

Thank you, dearests!

26 October 2010

Academics, Balance, and Creativity

As my tests ended and five beautiful, yet-to-be-filled days loomed before me, I was filled with a strong desire to create. I've painted some fabric to create more art dolls and have begun knitting a circular scarf - it feels so wonderful to be using my hands again!


Many days after starting this post, I am once again piled up to my neck in schoolwork. I have a new found appreciation for those who can balance blogging with full time jobs, intense college careers, and parents of small children! If I thought time was flying before, it is no comparison to how it has become a blur before me, as if I were spinning on a merry-go-round.

I miss creating. I miss playing. I miss having time to breathe. I miss blogging and connecting with each of you on a near-daily basis -- and yet I also enjoy being busy and feeling both productive and useful. I reflect on my word of the year, emerge, and am surprised about just how much I've lived into it; I've come out of my comfort zone, both literally and figuratively, and have come a long way in just one year.

It is a lifelong battle, I think, to achieve a good balance of needs and wants; too often our desires to create, relax, or enjoy oneself is put off an hour, a day, a month. The world rushes by us with an ever-present demand of deadlines and many of us struggle with the feeling that we are out of control of our own lives. While the pace of the world is unfortunate, remember that you are in control of your own actions, choices, and priorities.

You can lead your life; the consequences of your choices may be inevitable, yes, but it is up to you to suffer them or not. They do not by default define your actions. You are in control. This mode of thinking opens our minds to the possibility of spontaneity, opportunity, and freedom - which are, indeed, possibilities. As I've written in previous posts, refusing to take risks leads to ordinary, predictable outcomes. The act of taking a risk, however small, reminds us that we are masters of our own journeys. Try it out!

How are you, my lovelies? How is life treating you? Are you celebrating all that you've been blessed with? Are you remembering just how loved you are? Sending you lots of good wishes from my small corner of the world.

10 October 2010

Evening Musings

The weather has been beautiful lately, tempting me endlessly to enjoy the lingering warmth of summer. Sadly, though, I will not be able to go freely into nature until the end of this week - midterms have snuck up already and I have been spending my time studying all sorts of wonderful things and preparing for tests.

I recently came across two new words which I found completely enchanting: meraki and duende. The first is Greek and the second is Spanish; both describe things for which there is no translation in English. Meraki is used to describe "doing something with soul, creativity, or love -- when you 'put something of yourself' into what you're doing, whatever it may be". Duende "captures an entire world of passion, energy, and artistic excellence" and implies a whirlwind of zest in creation. Oh, what lovely ideas! Big thanks to Micaela for sharing.

I have a few posts in mind - including a recent art journal page - and do hope to share them soon! In the meantime, play in your art journal and explore autumn colors, moods, and ideas; let your pen flow across crisp white paper to describe all the beauties of this month; listen to this wonderful piece of music; explore Michelle's art challenges; go for a long walk with a camera in hand; and create warm things for the coming winter. Cuddle in bed and drink steaming tea when you can - my favorite flavor at the moment is black currant!

Recently I've been inspired by dancing golden leaves, blue skies, cello concertos, tights, the thud of acorns falling, Jacqueline du Pré, books, bright scarves, red lipstick, and dripping rain. How about you?

Sending love to all the corners of the world!

04 October 2010

Self-Love in Busy Moments

Repeat after me: I will give myself a moment or two of my own time. I will remember that I (and my mental, physical, and emotional health) am a priority. I will be gentle with myself.

I sit on my bed under
a downy blanket, fighting procrastination. This past week has been a tough one for me. There have been several things which have been testing me mentally and emotionally and which have been completely preoccupying my mind. Deadlines are ever present. I'm exhausted and have not been treating my body well, resulting in further exhaustion.

What does one do in these situations? Do you, like I do, need reminding that it's okay to take a step back, take a deep breath, and go slowly? Sometimes, in all the hurry and bustle and must dos and should dos, I forget to take care of myself. I forget to send myself love, and I forget to be gentle with myself. If you are in a similar situation, dearest, remember that you are a top priority - those To Dos can wait for a moment while you dedicate some time to you.

For a short-term solution, take a quick break in the midst of work - it often allows one to come back refreshed and full of renewed energy. Struggling through a project or task may in fact prevent you from doing your best work or from accomplishing as much as you need to! Try one or more of these little tricks to boost your spirits and your drive:
  • Make a cup of tea and sip it slowly
  • Read a blog post or two
  • Take a short walk outside
  • Have a conversation with your kids, spouse, or friend
  • Doodle or sketch
  • Stretch
  • Meditate for a few minutes, or simply close your eyes and focus on your breathing
  • Tidy the area around you - often a clear space helps create a clear mind
  • Make a list of 15 reasons you are blessed
After a few minutes' break, return to the task at hand and see if you are not more clear-headed and better able to focus. I suggest giving yourself at least five minutes of time each hour in order to re-center. Go on, treat yourself to some self-love!

If you have tried and true tactics to gently push yourself through difficult or tedious days, please share in the comments!

01 October 2010

Blue Skies and Yellow Leaves

Taken 2009.

October announced itself this morning with deliciously autumnal weather - breezy and cool, tempting me with the promise of a beautiful season. I am beginning to accept that summer is over and a new season has begun. This is a lovely month, filled with red-tinted leaves, pumpkins, harvested corn, and chilly nights; bonfires with good friends, thick blankets, and steaming mugs of hot tea are an absolute necessity!

In academic land, mid-terms are, incredibly, already approaching. Time flies so quickly, but when your days are filled from top to bottom with to do lists and looming deadlines the hours rush by in a blur! Tell me, how have you lovelies been in the past four weeks? What have you struggled with? What have you accomplished? What projects have you started or added to your list of "Things to Try Someday"?

I propose that the new word of the month be nurture - this October, have a greater focus on your art, your health, and your passions. Nurture yourself. Take a moment or two to breathe and allow yourself to center, and challenge yourself to grow in even the minutest of ways. (If you need some ideas to jump start creative exploration, check out Daisy Yellow's Creative Experiments for October or iHanna's list of 49 Creative Things You Can Do Today.) What else could you nurture, and what else about you could be nurtured?

Happy Friday! Have a wonderful weekend, my loves.

29 September 2010

The Return

Autumn leaves, taken 2009.

Hello, dear little blog!

The past few weeks have served as a lovely breather, allowing me to adjust to my new classes and settle once again into academic life. Autumn has arrived. Today is Michaelmas. My Beloved is flying home as we speak after a wonderful two-week stay.

And I am looking forward to sinking once more into my art and embracing my creativity, and returning to near-regular posting here on My Peacetree.

I have missed you. It's good to be home!

01 September 2010

Sweet September

Ahh, September! The month of lengthening nights, cooler days, and transition between two seasons. In just a few weeks Autumn will begin, though the hot, humid days may linger for a while still. Enjoy these remaining days filled with sunshine, green, and warmth!

School has started for many, myself included. I suspect that blogging will slow these next months due to my heavy workload, though I will certainly do my best to maintain some sort of rhythm, as this space truly is my haven.

In this moment, I feel that the word stretch is appropriate for the new word of the month - September is perfect to stretch your mind through creative or academic endeavors and challenge yourself with new concepts; alternately (or additionally), you can stretch your limbs and your body to prepare for a long, sleepy winter. Check out Daisy Yellow for some creative challenges for this month!

Happy Thursday, loves!

PS. Your response to my last post was moving; I am humbled by your kindness and understanding and I do hope that Tomo will read your comments and feel surrounded by love, peace, and support from all you wonderful individuals.

30 August 2010

Art Supplies for Tomo: Part III

Ivy, taken July 2010.

Hello, my loves.

It is with a heavy heart that I write to you today. I sent Tomo's package early last week, but, due to reasons that I cannot go into for her sake, she did not ever receive it. I am struggling to find balance between sharing exactly what the situation is and protecting Tomo's privacy. If you have donated and would like to have an explanation that you so rightly deserve, please email me and I will do my best to provide an appropriate one.

I apologize so profusely. If I were able - if I had the money to spare - I would refund you all in full; perhaps I will be able to at some point in the future. This entire situation, which once left me giddy with joy and excitement, leaves me deeply saddened for Tomo. I hope that some day in the future she will be able to create, discover, and grow with wild abandon.

With love,

26 August 2010

Written Journal

I have two main journals - my art journal and my written journal. I often forget to add writing to my art journal, getting caught up in paint and details and stamps, eventually feeling that the spread is complete without journaling. Occasionally I'll use words cut from magazines to add text, but the majority of my writing happens in my daily journal.
I am not one to write in detail about my days, expressing what happened and where I went and who said what. I instead doodle, make to-do lists, sketch, prepare blog posts, take notes, or every once in a while express feelings of anger, frustration, or joy over a specific occurrence.

The journal that I use now - which is almost complete! - is one I hand bound from a recycled pizza box. (I once got asked if it was a cookbook/recipe book!) The pages are plain printer paper and suit me well for my purposes; the binding is imperfect which leaves me more comfortable to "mess up" its pages.

Do you have a journal? What sorts of things do you write in its pages?

23 August 2010

And So it Goes

August has been a bit bare of posts, hasn't it? Frustratingly, my "borrowed" internet has been discovered by others, and so once again I struggle with a temperamental connection that has a grudge against uploading photos. I was asked some time ago about my written journal, and I'd hoped to be able to share some peeks with you today. I will have to postpone this for a little while, I think; my school dorm has wifi and I have high hopes that it will be conducive to blogging!

Today will be an incredibly busy day - it is my last before leaving this city after my short four month stay; Wednesday I will be moving to campus. My to-do list includes packing, sorting, and cleaning, and this morning I will finally head to the post office to send Tomo's package! I did try on Saturday, but arrived two hours after the building had closed. Tomo is looking forward to it just a bit, I think:
"OH MY GOSH!! I'm so excited!! It's all I've been thinking about these days!! .. I'm sososososososooooooooo thankful for everything you've done for me!! I really appreciate your hard work as well as that of others who have helped you help me."
I once wrote that it's a truly wonderful feeling to have someone make your day, but it's a thousand times better if you make theirs. At the moment, I believe that more than ever.

Wishing you a beautiful, creative, love-filled week!

18 August 2010

Art Supplies for Tomo, Part II

Dear Tomo -
If you would prefer to be surprised when your art supplies come - don't read this post!
Love, Ingrid

To those who have been so generous in helping me supply Tomo with needed art materials - thank you! I'm so blessed to know such kind people as you! Together, we have raised thirty seven dollars, and a box of loved art supplies has been donated. Yay! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Today I went to the art store and bought some things I thought were important for Tomo, as a new art journaler, to have: large tubes of acrylic paint in red, yellow, blue, black, and white; paint brushes; a glue stick; and water soluble pastels! It was such fun picking out these gifts, knowing that they will be cherished and well used. I will see if I can find any more papers, stickers, or ephemera to send along as well. I will be sure to include a little note with all the names of those who have been so kind and have helped her reach a dream!

If you would like to help, there is still plenty of opportunity! Shipping for these items will be pricey, and I (and Tomo!) would be grateful for whatever you have to give. Every dollar will be put to good use, and should there be any leftover money it will be put into a fund for other artists and given away on this blog. (Do you know of any beginning or needy artists who could use some help?) You can donate by PayPal or debit/credit card by clicking on the "Donate" button on the bottom of my left sidebar. Remember, too, that if you would like to instead donate art supplies, you can shoot me an email at mypeacetree2(at)gmail(dot)com.

Within the next few days I'll be putting everything together and sending it Tomo's way. More on this lovely little story to come! (Read Part I.)

14 August 2010

This Moment

Oh, my loves, where to begin? Please forgive me for the sparse postings as of late; the past week or two has been filled with frustration, tears, and trepidation as I choose a path for the next part of my journey. (Could you perhaps guess by my last post?) And, just two days ago, and a huge decision was made: I am going back to school this fall. Hooray! This means I will be moving taking - taking another leap of faith - in just two weeks' time.

I am not one who makes big decisions gracefully. I worry about making the "right" one (when in truth there is no "right" choice) and I fear that I will be forever confined to the choice I have made. I do not like eliminating opportunities by choosing one path to tread, and so often find myself lingering in limbo, neither moving forward nor experiencing any of the opportunities I might have had had I acted.

In the midst of all this struggle, I translated my inner turmoil onto paper. Taking a photograph of how I felt in that moment, surrounded by chaos, confusion, and uncertainty, I captured a single moment in my life - an unpleasant one. I printed the image and added color and detail. As I worked, my seething emotions ebbed, and the calm that stood in their place if only for a little while was absolutely lovely. I hope to work this painting into my art journal soon.

Dearests, yes, your art journal is a place for you to celebrate beauty, joy, and gratitude; but remember that it is also a good friend with eternally open arms. Into its pages you are invited to spill sorrow, anger, hurt - any negative emotion that weighs on your heart and mind. Your art journal will never judge you nor spill your secrets. You are a complex being, filled with the lightest light and the darkest dark, and that is what makes us such interesting, beautiful creatures. Do not be afraid to pour your heart onto its pages, weep, mourn, rage, splutter; express all of yourself, both the beautiful and the ugly.

Let your art journal reflect who you are - body, mind, and spirit!

PS. I will be buying art supplies for Tomo this week! A thousand thank-yous to each and every one of you who has been so, so generous in helping a new art journaler realize her dream. For more information on this project and to find out how to help, please read this post.

09 August 2010

Confessions of a Restless Mind

Detail of the background of a newly prepared canvas, waiting to be brought to life.

Every once in a while, I get restless. I long to leave behind all this routine, stress, and day-to-day ordinary and travel the world. I want to climb mountains, swim in oceans, make new friendships that will last a lifetime, paint, photograph, explore; I want to be a nomad, with nothing to tie me down and no responsibilities to hold me back.

Oh, but these daydreams are simply that -- daydreams. As much as I wish it were so, I cannot dream away the life I am slowly finding my way through; I do not have the means (nor the courage, I think) to embark on such an "outrageous" and "senseless" journey. I am blessed with everything I have, I know -- but sometimes, I want to trade it all for something that is less tangible but feels like so much more.

Maybe someday.

PS. Hooray! Artists are coming together to gift dreamed-of art supplies to a new art journaler. Find out how to help!

05 August 2010

Art Supplies for Tomo

All photos in this post are via Tomo's flickr. Go here for more peeks into her art journal.

Hello, dear friends!

Earlier this week, a young art journaler emailed me. Just beginning her journey, she wanted some advice on how to make the most of her limited art supplies. We had a very long exchange. Here is part of what she wrote:
Hi Ingrid! My name's Tomo, and I just discovered your art journals on flickr yesterday and got REALLY inspired to do my own since I'm exploding inside and usually can't think.

The thing is, I'm so limited to the things I can/want to use for my art journal. I know it's no excuse for an artist. My usual tools include watercolor pencils (I use the shavings to paint), highlighters, and markers for coloring. It gets me down, especially as an artist who's always been under supplied.

Could you give me a few tips [...]?

Tomo has a huge passion for art that is very apparent in her writing, and her newly begun art journal shows promise. Though she is determined to stay positive, my heart aches for an artist who has so few art supplies with which to express herself. I sent her a few small things, but here's what I've been thinking - and I haven't yet told this sweet girl any of this yet - I'd like to raise money to buy Tomo a few tubes of acrylic paint. Will you help me?

I would like to donate 10% of any purchases in either of my Etsy shops (here or here) towards this; I've also set up a PayPal account - you can donate directly using the new button in the sidebar or by clicking below. If you have any spare art supplies of your own you'd like to send to Tomo, please email me at mypeacetree2 [at] gmail [dot] com.

Acrylic paint is fairly cheap, about $4-5 per tube; I'd like to get her the basic colors - red, yellow, blue, black, and white. All donations will be used to buy and ship Tomo's paint, and if there are a few spare dollars I will purchase a few paintbrushes or other art materials for her. If it is cheaper to buy it online, I will do that instead of buying and sending it myself.

[PayPal button has been removed.]

And I will, of course, share every step of this process with you!

Thank you so much for your kindness and generosity, sweet readers. I look forward to seeing how this all turns out!

Much love,

And this, my friends, is what makes me think that she deserves, needs, and would be eternally grateful for your help. (She just received my initial package of a few art journalling papers and magazine cutouts today, after I wrote this post.)
"I GOT THEM I GOT THEM I GOT THEM!!! OH MY GOSH!!!! I just went to check the mail 3 minutes ago and saw a BIG package with super nice handwriting on it and was like "OH MY GOD!!! IT'S HERE!!!" I haven't even looked at EVERYTHING yet. I read the letter and I'm so thankful for everything you've done to help me get started and continue my art journaling experience. :) I'm so excited!!! I seriously appreciate everything, and I know I say it a lot, but I really can't say it enough!! *hug*

Thank you so much for every bit of inspiration you've given me in the one week we've known each other!"
Now, is that passion and excitement or what?!

01 August 2010

Ripe Summer's Queen

Summer flowers, taken July 2010.

So here's what happens when I check my email and see that I have a few new comments on a blog post:
  1. I click on the link, and read what has been written.
  2. I make an "aww.." sound, and a smile slowly spreads across my face and turns into a gigantic, silly grin.
  3. I feel supremely, totally, amazingly loved.
You guys are the bestest. I wish I could give you all super big hugs, and then we'd sit down and talk for a long time about life and adventures and wonderful things, and I'd pour you tea or lemonade and offer homemade cookies. Then we'd lie on the floor and cut out magazine images and spread paint across journal pages and get messy and silly and happy.

I am so very blessed to have such friends as you. You make my day, each and every day, and I can't thank you enough for your kindness, support, love, and encouragement. You all are such beautiful individuals!

I have been writing back to many of the comments that I've received via email- have you gotten my messages? I worry that you are not receiving my expressions of gratitude, answers to questions, and responses to things you've said. I read every comment and I appreciate every single one immensely, and I do want you to know how humbled and thankful I am.

So - have you noticed? It's August! We are now two thirds of the way through 2010. How are you doing on your resolutions? I've been better to my body; I'm eating more healthily overall, though I'm not getting as much exercise as I was earlier in the year. I am creating more, and though I've taken a few leaps of faith, I am still working on being more fearless. I still have some work to do on all of my goals.

The new word of the month is remember. What sorts of things do you think back upon with fondness; which experiences do you try not to recall? What moments have made the biggest impact upon you? When were the times that you felt most beautiful, frightened, creative, adventuresome, foolish, or sad? Looking back into our past, even into the difficult times, can be healing when explored in a journal or art journal. Remember that you are loved and supported, and you do not have to relive unpleasant memories without the comforting warmth of kind people.

Do enjoy this last beautiful month of summer! Be in the here and now, soak up every last ray of sun, appreciate the smell of cut grass - and, yes, even the sometimes tiresome task of mowing! - sudden thunderstorms, and days at the pool. These days will not last much longer; and I do think that knowing that they will come to an end makes them all the more delicious.

Much love,

PS. This post's title comes from the following poem by R. Combe Miller:

Fairest of the months!
Ripe summer's queen,
The hey-day of the year!
With robes that gleam with sunny sheen
Sweet August doth appear.

30 July 2010

"Secret" Spread

"Beautiful girl, what is your deepest desire?" / "I cannot tell; it is a secret."

These are not the first pages in my new art journal, but they are the first finished pages. I'm so happy with this spread!

My new journal is quite a bit like my old one. It is about 9 inches by 12 and is bound in the same style as my other; this one, though, has black pages. It is quite different to build your work on something that has such a dark starting point, but I'll have to do a few more spreads before I can say whether I prefer white, black, or colored pages.

Lots of love!

PS. The beautiful lady's head is a free collage image from here.

26 July 2010

Last Pages

As promised, a few photos of my finished art journal! As I've shared so many pages with you along the way (which you can view through this Flickr set or by browsing my "art journal" tag), I thought I'd share two new spreads - the last two created between these covers. The yellow spread is one of my new favorites; it's playful, simple, and I love the odd and asymmetrical layout.

The mountainous photo above was the last page I journaled on, and felt a bit like a rite of passage to complete. The colors remind me of early evening, a short while after the sun has set - a perfect metaphor to end this art journal!

The covers, shown in detail below, were collaged with scraps of Chinese newspaper and sheet music, watercolors, gesso, acrylic paint, masking tape, and hand printouts. I had originally intended to use the hard covers of an old atlas, but am so happy with the spontaneity and color of these completed ones!

You can view several more photos here, including details of the spreads shown above. And, believe it or not, I have already bound together a new book - a smaller one, as I didn't have enough paper to make as many signatures - and am in the process of working on two spreads! Can't wait to show you what develops upon them.

The Start of Something Beautiful

Woohoo! I finished my art journal! On Friday night I wrote on the last pages, bringing to a close ten months' worth of experimentation, frustration, and discovery. The book was created entirely by me; I bound it, choosing the colors for the pages and how large it would be; I gave it life and color and depth, and I am the one who pushed herself to finish something completely. Yep, I'll admit it: I'm so proud! And though I would have thought that I'd be sad to reach the end of these pages, I'm instead thrilled and terribly excited to continue my journey and unfold my story in a new journal!

So today, my loves, I have something rather exciting to share with you - the first ever videos created by me! I've seen journal flips popping up on all corners of the blogging world, and was terribly excited when I figured out that I can create videos on YouTube. For some reason, the first video cut of early, but I managed to make another video to show the rest. I tried to find music that wouldn't be too obnoxious, but if it really drives you crazy, please put your speakers on mute!

I think there's something so wonderful about seeing an artist's hands turning her own pages; it lends something so personal that still photos can't express. (Though I will take and post photos of the finished journal soon as well.) I do hope you enjoy!

Lots of love,

Find me on here on YouTube!

22 July 2010

Photography Celebrations

Taken July 2010.

Taken July 2009.

Hello, my sweets!

First things first: I have a new header! After playing around with a few different designs, I settled on the one you see above. I figured that, after more than a year, my little blog needed a bit of a new look. Do you like it?

And secondly - today is my camera's birthday! One year ago I got my dear Nikon d50, and together we've shared many walks, creative projects, and travels. (I've taken my camera to New York City, Germany, Croatia, West Virginia, and Holland!) Throughout this year I've become much more comfortable behind the lens; I have a better grasp on which buttons do which things, what light works and looks best, and which compositions make me happiest. I can't wait to see what the next year teaches me.

If you are looking for a fancier sort of camera that is relatively cheap, check out the d50. I found mine on eBay for a cheaper price, and it arrived in beautiful, new condition. The camera's picture quality is excellent, and it can be used as a point-and-shoot until you figure out the different settings. Another of my favorite things about it is the two rechargeable batteries that it came with; I can use one for hours, and when it runs out of juice I can put the other in - no more of that "use six AA batteries until the camera dies twenty minutes later" thing.

Anyway, I'm selling several professionally printed photos here! And if you check out my Flickr photostream and see something you like, I'd be happy get it printed and list it on Etsy for you, just because I love you that much.

Happy Friday!

21 July 2010

Printables - Hands and Flowers

I was searching the internet yesterday for free, royalty-free images to use in my artwork. (It is very important, you know, to make sure that you aren't hurting anyone by using their uncredited copyrighted work in your own projects, including your blog.) I didn't find much, and had the idea to begin making freebies for all my lovelies here to use.

Look! My first set of illustrations, free for you to print out, cut up, color, and use as you like in your personal art. Just click on the image below and a larger version will appear - then you can save it to your desktop. I'd appreciate it, if you share this, to credit it to me!

Click on image to view larger!

I'm hoping to ride this creative tide and make a few more sheets - do you have any requests? What sorts of printable images would you like to use in your artwork? I've been brainstorming: the alphabet, simple faces you can fashion to your liking, quotes, numbers, more flowers, trees, animals, eyes and lips, journal prompts.. There are so many possibilities!

Oh, and do please share if you've come across any other excellent royalty-free images in your searchings!

20 July 2010

You Vs. That Beautiful White Page

The very first page of my new sketchbook,
part of the Sketchbook Project.


It's a word much, much easier said than done, especially when it comes to art. Behold the dreaded First Page above! It is white, beautiful, smooth, clean, and unmarked - but it is also ordinary, silent, with nothing to say, waiting for you to transform it into something only your mind can imagine and only your hands can create.

Are you intimidated by the White Page? You are not alone! Try this: take a deep breath and close your eyes. Reach around you, and use whatever art supply you first find to make a mark on the paper. It can be small and quickly done, though it will make a bigger impact if you push yourself to make a larger mark. Now open your eyes - and hopefully this mark will break the spell of the First Page and you will be free to explore, play, and experiment! If you find yourself still stuck for ideas, give one (or more!) of these a go:
  • Make a list - things you can see, things you can hear, things you can feel.
  • Splash on some color - use markers, crayons, watercolors, acrylics, pens, colored pencils, or highlighters.
  • Write one word in large letters across two pages.
  • Add some texture - glue in images, scrap paper, receipts, tickets, bits of newspaper, and tissue paper.
  • Drip watered down paint or india ink across the pages.
  • Cover a whole page with your writing, without stopping.
  • Do a blind contour drawing - while looking at an object, try to trace its outline without lifting your pen or looking at the page.
With practice, beginning a page becomes easier and easier, and the battle of starting a new journal becomes easier. Promise! Now go give it a try, and see how brave and proud you feel when the First Page is dripping in color.

15 July 2010

Interview on Art Journaling

Hello, dearests! I wrote this post before I heard the exciting news that Connie was inviting art journalers who hadn't been featured on her blog to share their stories on the last day in July. I've added more visual goodness and at the end you'll find the Short Bio that I hadn't included before. Thanks so very much for visiting - it's absolutely lovely to have you here!

If you want to conduct your own interview, you can add the link to Connie's list here.

July 2010. Blogged here.

There's an incredible celebration of all things art journal over at Connie Hozvicka's blog. All through the month of July, she is interviewing featuring an art journaler each (and every!) day - and let me tell you, there is some gorgeous stuff to be found there!

I asked Connie if I might be featured, but she told me that all the interview spots had been filled. No surprise there, as it's an incredible opportunity to get your name out, share your artwork, and perhaps snag a few more readers. I thought, though, that if I wasn't able to give an interview there I might share the answers to her questions here. Interested? Here we go!

April 2010. Originally blogged here.

December 2009. Originally blogged here.

*How long have you been art journaling?
I'm not quite sure exactly when it was - I began by dipping my toes into something I didn't yet know had its own name, unaware of others experimenting the same way as I. In high school I discovered book altering through (what I think was) this book, and played with the idea for some time before coming across the beauty that is art journaling blogs.
*How has art journaling impacted, changed, or enhanced your life?
Through art journaling I have become much more confident with my art. I have expanded my ability to express inner thoughts and emotion, and have become unafraid to play, experiment, and try new things. It's liberating!

June 2010.

*What are a few of your favorite art journaling materials to use?
Acrylic paint, glue sticks, magazine images, and my own handwriting. Other things I use: oil pastels, crayons, stamps, gel medium, image transfers, found ephemera, string, packing tape, masking tape, hole punches, watercolors, india ink, and gesso.
*Who are some of your favorite art journalers?
iHanna (whose interview with Connie can be found here, and who first introduced me to the term "art journaling"), Juliana Coles, Diana Trout, Samantha Kira, and Erin Kenepp - among many, many others. Go here to view my favorite art journal pages on Flickr!
*What kind of encouragement would you say to an art journal newbie?
Don't give up! It can be so hard to start - especially if you are focusing only on the final result and desperately want to be happy with your work, but haven't had the experience yet to create something you are proud of. Keep trying. Turn the page and start again. Keep painting, keep experimenting, keep working, push through the doubts and the possible disappointment, and with time you will find what styles, colors, and processes work for you!

March 2010. Originally posted here.

*Where can we contact you? Give us some link LOVE!
*Short Bio
Ingrid is a twenty-something living in a city for the first time in her life. These things inspire her; these are the things she strongly believes in. Read more about her and this blog here!

Finished art journal!

And there you have it! Do stop by Connie's project when you have a few spare minutes, and be prepared to be inspired. She will be interviewing new artists throughout the rest of the month, so be sure to check back often.
Lots of love,

11 July 2010

Appreciation of the Here and Now

I love coming home to visit the tiny town where my mama and brother live. I love the sounds of summer, uninterrupted by the sounds of traffic: the hundreds of birds, the cicadas, the wind in the trees, the occasional train rumbling by.

I love the smell of freshly mown grass and hose water on hot pavement, and seeing the golden afternoon sunlight drench the world into lazy happiness.

I love being able to walk barefoot on the sidewalks.

I love the abundant nature - the canopies of stretching trees, unfurling flowers, gurgling streams, and squirrels and rabbits bounding away from my approach.

And I love that living in a city - being away from all of these things for months at a time- reminds me to fully appreciate every sound, sight, and smell of this place and to recognize the preciousness and beauty in every moment.


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