Category Archives: Artsy Stuff

Saturdays At the Flying Leap Art Studio in Fairfield Iowa

My Collage

There is no must in art because art is free.
Wassily Kandinsky

A healing Saturday ritual

Every Saturday morning, I grab my caramel latte at Fairfield’s Cafe Paradiso (where Oprah had coffee during her tour of our little town), where the coffee beans are freshly roasted and the caramel flavor is organic and locally made, and I walk across the street and enter a building where I climb the stairs to a space of several rooms dedicated to art. In the studio, I meet with my group led by a wonderful  artist, Donna Colby, and  sit at one end of a large folding table – my reserved spot because art is my religion and I never miss church on Saturday. I will stay there from 10:30 to between 3 and 5.

I grab my favorite magazines, gather my paper, glue stick, scissors, and  I unpack my little bag of things I bring from home – lately it’s my art stamps and ink. I say hi to the group, to members of my tribe in my community.

I feel the coffee taking effect and my brain starts to shift – maybe it’s the alpha waves that are supposedly stimulated by the brain when we are being creative. The tension in my mind from the work week shuts up for while. The dictates of time begins to disappear. I start to feel myself again and may even turn of my cell phone.

Permission to take a flying leap

Donna is my mentor who gives me permission to express my vision. My group is most often all women, but when a guy comes, he is usually great and probably in his creative feminine, so he’s one of us. In making art together we are comrades and kindred spirits, wrestling with our blocked creative selves to become free. Some of us are painting, some drawing – we are doing our own thing. We remind ourselves we are our harshest critics, we are sometimes our worst enemies, but sometimes it just takes the gentleness of a supportive and loving group of pilgrims to ease our way toward becoming our best selves and unleashing the muse within.

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My Vision Board: Getting in Touch With My Inner Visionary

We Are All Visionaries

Our life is a manifestation, and we can very well make that manifestation beautiful and meaningful and have a good influence.

Thich Nhat Hanh

One of My Vision Boards

As a collage artist, sometimes I just start cutting out images from my stash of magazines that represent different parts of myself or the kinds of energy I want to attract into my life. Maybe after spending a day at my job on the computer, I’ve simply got to get into the right side of my brain. And, one way to get there is simple–find inspiring images, cut them out, and put them on a bulletin board. I mean you don’t have to be Picasso to cut paper. Somehow, looking at a zebra in Africa or a vase of cut flowers makes me optimistic. Or, turning a page and seeing a confident woman standing in a beautiful art studio surrounded by the tools of her craft, lifts me from the mundane into the imagination where all possibilities exist.

I’m moved by what I see. That’s why I love making art and seeing other people’s art. I like all kinds of art and think people who are creative are some of the most fascinating people in the world, even when they’re crazy. I like the way text looks on paper and the way colors pop from pages, and the way seeing a picture of sky gives me hope that life will be better.

“Imagine and Let Go” is one of the laws of manifestation

Making my vision board tells my brain there is this world of possibilities out there I can tap into. It’s like unplugging from the matrix of daily life and being five years old. I can, for a while, forget about time and that I have to get up in the morning to BE somewhere. I can stop thinking about global warming and Hurricane Sandy and worrying about the election, because I’m busy with my own business–I’m cutting out pictures and pinning them on a cork board.


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Mask-Making Made Simple

“Every child is an artist, the problem is staying an artist when you grow up” – Pablo Picasso

Mask-making is an ancient art form that has been practiced world wide, and ranges from simple folk art to the level of high art. I love this very simple process of creating one-of-a-kind art pieces that can be either included into larger mixed media or collage pieces or stand alone! This is a perfect project to begin when you have that creative impulse, but are constrained by time, space, or even ideas.

Once you get started, however, if you’re like me, you’ll become so involved in the process, you may end up spending many wonderful hours on just one mask. So, don’t be deceived by its seeming simplicity—this project can take you deeply into the zone of art-making! You may find the mask itself leads you in directions you had not considered, and your inspiration starts to move full speed ahead, surprising you as you move forward.

I like to start by using a colored pencil (Prismacolor pencils are wonderful colored pencils favored by advanced and beginning artists) to draw simple designs lightly on my mask—sometimes I pick the color palette for the paint I will later use as I draw—getting a feeling for the mood and look of the mask I’m creating. In the masks above I used gold metallic and bright acrylic colors.

“Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It’s self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can’t try to do things. You simply must do things” – Ray Bradbury

Next, I start painting in my designs—do not be afraid to improvise and move away from the designs you have penciled in! The design will evolve as you go along, so trust your self and be spontaneous and in the moment. Remember, making art is not about the complexity of the project or about playing by the rules. It’s about getting into the zone and letting go and staying focused at the same time.

If I  want to change my design, I cover up the area with Titanium White paint or gesso. So I don’t get too hung up on perfection—it’s easy to make corrections.

“It’s not about breaking the rules. It is about abandoning the concept of rules altogether” – Paul Lemberg


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The Artist’s Way is Meditation in Action

“Water” from Kartika’s Art Journal

“I have learned, as a rule of thumb, never to ask whether you can do something. Say, instead, that you are doing it. Then fasten your seat belt. The most remarkable things follow.”

Julia Cameron

Making art is meditation in action

It’s my experience when I’m deeply committed to a creative act, whether writing, painting, arranging and decorating, designing a bracelet, or making a meal, it is meditation in action. I find a way to temporarily unplug from the “matrix.” I escape from my linear mind into the imagination where all things are possible. When we face an empty page or a blank canvas, we’re invited into the unmanifest where all things are suddenly possible. We tap into the right side of the brain.

That’s why The Artist’s Way speaks to me so deeply. I bought this book when it was first published in 1992. I skimmed it, and put it on a shelf. Then I picked it up again, after I started doing art a number of years ago. I knew I loved making art. I just needed to discover who I AM as an artist. And, reading this book inspired me to embrace that journey.

A blocked creative makes excuses for not follow the muse:

  • I’m too busy to paint, write, or learn an instrument, etc.
  • I can’t afford to be an artist; I need to make money.
  • Maybe next year I’ll have time to start my novel.
  • I’m too old to start playing piano.
  • Being creative is a luxury and I can’t afford the time.
  • I’ll look silly if I sign up for an art class.
  • I don’t have the talent.

The excuses are endless, and the years go by as we bury our dreams of living a creative life. Our lives may feel flat and we sense something is missing. On some level, we long to express ourselves creatively, yet we don’t give ourselves permission to follow through. Often, we let fear stop us–we fear we will discover we don’t have talent, that people will make fun of our efforts, and that somehow we will fail.

Julia Cameron offers a technique in The Artist’s Way to help us remove the blocks to our creative spirit and tap into the parts of our brain where inspiration resides:

The morning pages

When you wake up in the morning, go right for your pen and notebook, and without thinking, write three pages. Don’t judge yourself or your writing, don’t think of this as “art”, don’t correct your grammar or your spelling, don’t censor yourself. Do this every morning as a tool to get in touch with that part of the brain where insight and creativity reside. This process helps us to discover what is on our minds and in our hearts, learn about our fears, and get the creative juices flowing.

 “It is impossible to write morning pages for any extended period of time without coming into contact with an unexpected inner power.” Julia Cameron

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Art Journals: Unblocking Your Inner Artist

Art is not about thinking something up. It is the opposite – getting something down.
Julia Cameron

Let go of linear time.

We tend to live our lives in such structured and disciplined ways, where the clock rules our every moment, we lose touch with the freedom of being in the moment. Art journals and art making in general enlivens the part of our brains where we let go of time and experience the innately creative selves that we are.

Many of us find our daily activities a grind without as much time to focus on aesthetics, feeling, and creativity.

The time we spend making art journals is our time and our opportunity to be free from the constraint of our obligations to perform, be perfect, and to please others.

Ah, good taste! What a dreadful thing! Taste is the enemy of creativeness.

Pablo Picasso

Keep a journal in your purse or on your person.

One of my favorite places to work on my art journal is a local cafe. Over a latte, I simply allow myself to get in touch with what is on my mind and start writing, drawing, or doodling. I begin to get clear on how I feel and what my place is in the world. Sometimes I save spaces to later add in collage, paint or photos. Often, I have a glue stick and some scissors in my bag along with a magazine and actually add collage elements then and there. Sometimes, people will become intrigued and ask me what I’m up to. When they take a look at my art journal process, they often go out and by a journal of their own.

Mystery is at the heart of creativity. That, and surprise.
Julia Cameron

The Tao of Women

Surprising ourselves is part of the fun of making art. We don’t need to know the outcome, we just need to start and the outcome will take care of itself.

If you need some inspiration to get unblocked, I recommend, Julia Cameron’s, “The Artists Way.”

She offers tips on getting in touch with our creative energy, moving beyond our creative blocks, and living an authentic and creative life.


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Creating Collage Art Journals: Discover Your Personal Mythology

“The function of mythological symbols is to give you a sense of ‘Aha! Yes. I know what it is, it’s myself.’”

Joseph Cambell

What draws us to the images we choose for our art work?

Symbols help us to interpret our personal reality, explain the mystery of the cosmos, and help us gain insight into ourselves. All religions and cultures abound with symbols that speak to our beliefs and cosmology.

When making a collage, I notice  I keep finding and choosing to use certain symbols over and over again. Even though I’m not always conscious of why I choose these images, I trust they are meaningful on a deeper level. For example, I frequently draw or use circles, spirals, birds, hands, feet, angels, portals, archetypal wise women, vessels, and a variety of animals. And, I’ve come to see how they relate to my personal mythology. They have become part of my artistic vocabulary. Then I start to investigate what these symbols mean universally as well as how they relate to me personally.

Symbols allow the soul to speak to us directly.

The creation of an art collage from the soul is an inner journey that allows your soul to speak to you. Your soul’s voice can be heard through the images, feelings and insights that surface… (Kathleen Carrillo)

The more aware I become of the symbols I find myself consistently drawn to, and the more I incorporate these images into my art journals and other art works, the more I discover interesting things about my psyche, and the more interesting my art becomes. And, that is what I’m going for.


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Creating Art Assemblages Using Mask Forms

Mixed Media Art Assemblag


Assemblages using simple and inexpensive mask forms

During my mask-making period, I began integrating my decorated mask forms onto boards using collage, paint, found objects, shells, beads, feathers, fabric, etc.This project was spontaneous and unfolded in a magical way.


  • Mask forms (I found nice paper forms at Dick Blick).
  • Any kind of strong supports for your assemblage, such as: pieces of wood or Masonite (Masonite can be purchased at hardware stores and cut to your desired sizes).
  • Mat medium for adhering papers.
  • Gesso for prepping your support boards.
  • Glue-gun for adding three dimensional objects.
  • Paint, paper, and ephemera—this is where you can get really creative—the list is endless.
  • Hangers for your support—you can find simple kits that make this an easy process.

The most important material in art making, of course, is your imagination.

“If you want to really hurt you parents, and you don’t have the nerve to be gay, the least you can do is go into the arts. I’m not kidding. The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possible can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.”
Kurt Vonnegut, A Man Without a Country

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One of My Art Journal Pages: Women Who Heal the Planet

Art Journaling From Your Heart…

The power of doodling, collaging, free writing, water coloring, and experimenting with all kinds of media, including found objects, is that it allows you to express and record what is in your mind and heart at a given point in time! You don’t need to be trained to play with the media. Just pick up a paint brush, watercolor crayon, or a simple pen and go for it. Anything goes—it is your journal, your playground, and place to experiment. Anyone can create interesting and beautiful art journals.

I Refuse to be a Blocked Creative!

Everyone needs a form of creative expression, and even those of us who have been what Julia Cameron calls, “blocked creatives,” can come out of the closet in a non-threatening way and create art. That is why so many people have discovered the joys of making personal art journals.

 I used my computer to generate images of some of the women I consider my mentors. These women inspire me because they have influenced and changed the lives of millions of people and helped heal the planet.

I love art journals with water color paper – they are perfect for mixed media and allow you to paint and use markers.

Gouache paint is fantastic! The beauty of  gouache is that you mix it with water, like watercolors, but the medium is non-transparent so the effect is more opaque, with great reflective qualities. You can, however, dilute the pigment with water to give it more transparency and lighter tones.

One of My Art Journal Pages

“Most of us are not raised to actively encounter our destiny. We may not know that we have one. As children, we are seldom told we have a place in life that is uniquely ours alone. Instead, we are encouraged to believe that our life should somehow fulfill the expectations of others, that we will (or should) find our satisfactions as they have found theirs. Rather than being taugh to ask ourselves who we are, we are schooled to ask others. We are, in effect, trained to listen to others’ versions of ourselves. We are brought up in our life as told to us by someone else! When we survey our lives, seeking to fulfill our creativity, we often see we had a dream that went glimmering because we believed, and those around us believed, that the dream was beyond our reach. Many of us would have been, or at least might have been, done, tried something, if…
If we had known who we really were.”
Julia Cameron

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Women Do Not Understand Art – “From a Young Man’s Perspective”

Tree Deva from Kartika’s Art Jounal

What do you think? As you can see, perspective is not my forte.

This guy thinks women are clueless about art. Take a look – Women Do Not Understand Art – “From a Young Man’s Perspective.

What is your perspective on perspective? I used to be terrified to draw because I thought I had to make a woman holding a jar look like a woman holding a jar.  I thought first I had to understand perspective and be able to draw realistic images before I could create art. But now I’m free to enjoy myself. Why? Because my art mentor gave me permission to reject perspective. I can now love my “Girl with a Jar.”

She teaches me something every time I look at her – she teaches me I can trust myself, trust my instincts, and follow the muse. She teaches me it’s okay to play and not take art making so seriously. She teaches me sometimes the best things happen when we just loosen up and let go.

But the perspective of this young man reminds me of those critics out there who just don’t appreciate the abstract or irrational. He reminds me of those antiquated teachers who admonished us for not drawing in the lines or making a tree look like a tree. He reminds me of another guy I was with who thought of himself as a “real artist,” who had mastered the craft of perspective.

I say, don’t buy it and keep drawing outside of the lines and making trees look like dinosaurs.

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October 19, 2012 · 1:55 am

What is your perspective on perspective?

One of the pages from my art journal is a piece called, Girl with Jar.Image

What is your perspective on perspective?

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October 19, 2012 · 12:00 am