Tuesday, December 31, 2013

365 Art Project 2014 ~ Happy Thoughts

Happy 2014, Everyone!

I've spent the past few days pondering what I'd like to do for the New Year. I've known for quite a while that I wanted to try a 365 day art challenge. But I couldn't quite figure out a theme.

Today, I flipped open an old book I own called Stepping Heavenward by Elizabeth Prentiss. A little page fell out with a quote on happiness:

I really dug the quote and decided to Google it to find out more information. Then I stumbled on a gorgeous volume of happiness quotes from Archive.org

Cover: Beautiful Thoughts on Happiness, Copyright 1911

It contains a happy thought for each day of the year, as you can see here:

So....I had a "happy thought" of my own! Why not do a little piece of art each day exploring one of these quotes on happiness? Sounds like a plan to me! 

I'm still settling on materials and size. But I will most likely keep the format small, maybe the size of an index card. But I think this would be a great challenge for 2014, and something I can even do when I'm backpacking this spring. I may mix it up a little with perhaps a different style or technique each month. I plan to wing it a little, and just enjoy the experience!

Best wishes for a blessed and prosperous New Year!

A little graphic I created to launch the 365 Art Project 2014: Happy Thoughts
Sandra Martin | All Rights Reserved | Copyright 2014

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Moments 21, 22

#themomentschallenge via Daisy Yellow

"Everything has its beauty, but not everyone sees it."
Rusty Goodness

An experiment in rusting trinkets using some techniques found online. I will be posting an entry soon on some of my experiments and how well they turned out. I loved this jumbled mess and recently used some of these things on my bulletin board, which I shared about in my first vlog here

 Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything that is beautiful; 
for beauty is God's handwriting - a wayside sacrament. 
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Taco Bell Flowers
Captured these when we went through the Taco Bell drive-thru. Don't eat Taco Bell much these days, but we were in a rush getting some errands done. Some of the flowers are a bit scraggly, but I love the bright ones...very bold and cheery. 

Artfully yours,

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Creative Currents Vlog #1

Sharing a rough first attempt at a vlog showing off my new studio space and bulletin board project.

WARNING: Unedited, fan blowing in background, and abrupt ending as my camera card ran out of memory! I'm also extremely *quiet*, so you may have to adjust volume. :-)

Moments #20

#themomentschallenge via Daisy Yellow


“A weed is but an unloved flower.” 
― Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Morning Glories on Fencepost
On my morning walk, I spotted these morning glories in a lonely alleyway. Love the purples and pinks and even the splotchy yellow and green leaves. Another "last hurrah" of summer blooms. 

Artfully yours, 

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Moments 15, 16, 17, 18, 19

#themomentschallenge via Daisy Yellow
Once again, I'm sharing a roundup of this week's moments. I'm still on a computer detox, so my social media/blogging time is limited! Enjoy. 


“Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it’s better to be 
absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.”
~Marilyn Monroe | Marilyn
Colorful "design" on a telephone pole
Don't mind me, passing cars and pedestrians. I'm just standing a few inches away from a telephone pole happily snapping away! 


 "Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life."
~Omar Khayyam
Noticing the light on my Adidas
A simple moment caught while running errands in the blue Ford Festiva. I paid attention to the play of light on the imperfect dirty floorboard. 


"Gratitude is the fairest blossom which springs from the soul."
~Henry Ward Beecher
Crabapple Blossoms, Autumn Sunset

Saw this during my walk home earlier this week (prints will be available soon). The tree stood next to an overpass with a rusty chain link fence and noisy traffic below, but I appreciated the calm of spying the blossoms high above me. 


"I think music in itself is healing. It's an explosive expression of humanity. 
"We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature - trees, flowers, grass- grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence... We need silence to be able to touch souls."
~Mother Teresa
Daytime Moon
I saw this shortly after snapping pics of the crabapple tree. Another source of calm in the midst of noise and littered sidewalks. 


|True happiness comes from the joy of deeds well done, the zest of creating things new."
~Antoine de Saint-Exupery 
Memory Board of Mom
I've been stepping into some creative endeavors lately trying to earn money from doing what I love. I noticed this picture on a memory board I created when my mother passed away in March. She's wearing a clown nose during one of her stays at the nursing home. You can see the oxygen she is wearing, which she sometimes required. She thought the pic was silly, but I enjoyed it so much. I put all the pictures that represented her creative gifts that she passed to me....a love of music (her favorite were old-time hymns), arts and crafts, gardening, and decorating. I'm glad my mom kept this pic that revealed her fun-loving side...it reminds me not to take life too seriously. 

Artfully yours, 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Art Studio Peek ~ I've Got My Head in the Clouds!

 "Throw open your window and let the scenery of 
clouds and sky enter your room."
~Yosa Buson
My New Art Space ~ October 2013

Sorting through Ephemera for Projects ~ A beautiful mess!

Well, my hubby and I are set up in our new place. We are renting his brother's loft, which means we have an open area for sleeping, relaxing, and creating. My new space is somewhat in the middle of things. I'm keeping it very simple. The table is perfect for crafting and doing small painting projects. I have an easel tucked behind the brick chimney for larger paintings. A dresser sits on the opposite wall to hold additional papers and art supplies.

My favorite part of the decor is probably the clouds my brother-in-law sponge-painted on the ceiling when he lived in the space. It creates an uplifting environment. No wonder I'm painting spring-like themes in my art journal...like butterflies and tulips! I think it will be a great place to work this winter.

Bluebird Queen wears her pink glittery homecrafting crown

My snooty bluebird queen watches over the art table and a few knicknacks. My dad is in the photo working on a painting he did for a commission at a Mexican restaurant in his community. The clear canister with yellow lid is a vintage Listerine bottle that held lozenges or something. Now it holds tiny rainbow colored beads which inspire me....kind of like looking at a bubble gum machine.

The chimney is a favorite feature. I am using sticky dots to attach pics and treasures that inspire me....a bit like a bulletin board. The paper stars are based on a vision I had of a fist emerging from the night sky holding a fistful of childlike stars....I will share about that sometime. But this reminds me to stay childlike and playful in my art. 

Chimney Bulletin Board

Craft Cupboard Treasures
Housed in the craft cupboard are some pretty bottles I decoupaged with vellum decorations and added beads and ribbons. My best friend's children smile at me with their cowboy hats from a rodeo parade. The little blue homemakers is a vintage Enesco figurine. Her apron reads "A Mother's Work is Never Done." This belonged to my Grandmother Gates and passed to my mom. My mother passed away in March, and the dish currently holds the date of her birth and death. (It fell off the memory board I made for her memorial, and will be re-attached later). 
A Plateful of Pretties
I love arranging some of my ephemera and craft supplies in ways to tempt me to use them. Behind the plateful of pretties, I have a favorite book called Pencil Dancing and my Mary Engelbreit journal I took with me on the Appalachian Trail. The quote pinned on the vintage crochet lace describes my approach to art ~ "Blending the Old with the New." 

Hope you enjoyed a peek into my art studio. 

Artfully yours, 

The Moments No. 11, 12, 13, 14

#themomentschallenge via Daisy Yellow

Running a little behind posting my daily Moments. So here are the past few days! I am forgoing my usual formatting with the bordered frames and Moments title. Keeping it sweet and simple...which really is the point anyways, right? ;-) 

"I think music in itself is healing. It's an explosive expression of humanity. 
It's something we are all touched by. 
No matter what culture we're from, everyone loves music."
~Billy Joel
Music Box Closeup

My brother-in-law found a couple music boxes with clear housing while helping the neighbors move. I've always been intrigued by music boxes even as a child, watching the whirring gears and the harp-like tines pluck the teeth on the main wheel, creating a tinkling melody. I really enjoyed the rainbow sheen of the metal inside the scarred plastic case when I captured this closeup. 


"Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties."
~Erich Fromm
Keep Calm and Craft On Metal Tin
Yup...the Keep Calm posters are pretty much overkill, but this little tin is still a treasure I purchased during the height of the Keep Calm craze. It's surrounded by scraps of paper I pulled off a chipboard butterfly. I plan on collaging the ripped pieces onto my art journal pages, giving them new life. One thing I'm learning as I create is that the best work happens when I'm in a state of rest or calm in my heart...not overthinking a project. So the tin offers good advice. :-)


"If we had a keen vision of all that is ordinary in human life, it would be like hearing the grass grow or the squirrel's heart beat, and we should die of that roar which is the other side of silence.
~George Eliot
Squirrel on a Telephone Wire
Out on my morning walk, I captured this squirrel high above me on the telephone wire. It sat very still, clinging to the wire hoping I wouldn't notice it. A closeup with my camera brought the cute little rodent into view. 


"An artist must be careful not to throw his ideas out with the trash." 
~Terri Guillemets
Pretty Tiles in Cobblestone Wall
I discovered these tiles on a retaining wall in the neighborhood. The fact that the tiles are rough, dirty and imperfect make them even more interesting to me. This is how I often approach my mixed media art, particularly my experiments in my art journal. I love adding a torn piece of paper or objects that would be destined for the trash. I really believe you can find value and beauty in almost anything with a little imagination. 

Artfully yours,

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Moments No. 10

#themomentschallenge via Daisy Yellow


"No one sees a flower, really, because to see takes time"
~Georgia O' Keefe

This picture was a result of a prompt by Milliande Photography Studio last month called "Backyard Bugs." Not only did I capture the target of the prompt, but a beautiful seedpod as well. I loved that my Nikon Coolpix L820 picked up the fuzzy delicate hairs as well. It was perfect timing, for I had just purchased a favorite book called Pencil Dancing  by Mari Messer. Chapter Six is called "Wake Up and Notice the Fuzz on the Rose Petals."

"There's no such thing as an insignificant detail, even though the words are often found in each other's company. Jack Kerourac says that details are the life of prose. They are also the life of poetry, and the inspiration of painting and other creative acts. To fuel your own creativity, train yourself to observe and remember details. Think of this training as mental push-ups: preparation for being able to see a rose all the way down to its fuzzy petals. We can't write or draw until we can see. And we can't see until we take time to notice."
~Mari Messer, Pencil Dancing

I am polishing the powers of observation through photography, sketching, and just noticing details around me as I go for walks in the neighborhood. I will be sharing more details in some of the moments ahead! 

Artfully yours,

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Moments No. 9

#themomentschallenge via Daisy Yellow


"I've always taken 'The Wizard of Oz' very seriously, 
you know. I believe in the idea of the rainbow. And
 I've spent my entire life trying to get over it."
~Judy Garland
Label on Vintage Suitcase
I have a great love of vintage suitcases. They're great for storing my fabric or other craft supplies as well as seasonal clothes. My hubby's suitcase still has a label from his home state, circa the early 1970's. I was drawn to the play on words, "The Land of AH's", but didn't think much about it. Then I happened to be on YouTube a day or two later, and saw a promoted video for "The Wizard of Ahh's by the viral singing group Pentatonix collaborating with Todrick Hall. Needless to say, I was mesmerized! It was a special moment, as Oz plays itself out a lot in my work, like my recent index card art here or a collage I created here.

Artfully yours, 


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Moments No. 8

#themomentschallenge via Daisy Yellow


"No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted."
Let me introduce you to Coltrane and Peppy, a couple alley cats...er, alley kittens in the neighborhood. Eating none other than Alley Cat brand cat food! They're a little wild, but once in a while we manage to pet them before they run away. I'm going to miss these little guys when we move. Fortunately, we have a few other kindhearted souls in the neighborhood who will continue to feed them, so I'm hoping for the best. 

Artfully yours,

Monday, October 7, 2013

The Moments No. 7

#themomentschallenge via Daisy Yellow


"You use a glass mirror to see your face; 
you use works of art to see your soul."
~George Bernard Shaw
You are so beautiful to Me! ~ God

I woke up one morning and decided I would start loving myself instead of looking at myself with a critical eye every time I passed the mirror. So I took a bright pink highlighter and and wrote myself a note. Even if my hair is sticking up or bags under my eyes, I look at the note and think...hey, I am a beautiful creation. Sometimes I'm convinced it's easier for us to see the beauty in others than within ourselves. But slowly, I'm learning to see myself with a loving gaze, too. 

Hello Beautiful! Yes you! What little change have you made to boost your confidence or bring out your inner beauty? How has this affected how you love others or interact with them?

Have you ever created a work of art to express your beauty and uniqueness. Share in the comments below. 

Artfully and beautifully yours,

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Moments No. 6

#themomentschallenge via Daisy Yellow


"Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer
 despair for the future of the human race."
~H.G. Wells
I Want to Ride my Bicycle, Bicycle...
My hubby is busy working on his new bike, outfitting it with an electric motor. I took it for a spin before he got the kit. I hadn't rode a bike for years and felt like I was 10 years old again! What moments have you had recently that take you back to your childhood?

Artfully yours,

Saturday, October 5, 2013

The Moments No. 5

#themomentschallenge via Daisy Yellow


"Love is the answer, and you know that for sure; 
Love is a flower, you've got to let it grow."
~John Lennon
Lone Rose of Sharon
The other day I noticed a single Rose of Sharon growing alongside the house. We clipped them back earlier in the season because they were taking over the flowerbed and starting to sprawl out onto the narrow sidewalk. They are a tough, resilient plant. When we first moved into our house in 2009, a huge patch grew on the north side of the yard, growing over a story tall in a wide array of colors. When the landlord decided to paint the trim, he cut down all the Rose of Sharon bushes in that area. All we have now are a few that creep along the foundation of the house. The Rose of Sharon is a cousin of the Hibiscus flower. The blooms last for a couple weeks in a vase of fresh water. But I decided to let the lone beauty stay put, blooming her solitary farewell to summer. 

Artfully yours,

Friday, October 4, 2013

The Moments No. 4

#themoments challenge via Daisy Yellow


"Into every life a little sun must shine!"
Mail Art by June Crawford @ A Creative Dream
Life has been hectic lately as I prepare for my move this weekend. What a joy to open my mailbox and discover a surprise from fellow art blogger June at A Creative Dream. I participated in a mail art swap, which I wrote about here. My assigned partner was unable to send their postcard, and June felt bad for me. So she sent this little gem. I love her intricate linework, including on the back...trust me...it's beautiful and precise. 

The word buzzing in my ears lately is bittersweet. I think June's card captures this beautifully. She took the famous quote by Longfellow and turned it completely on its head: 
Into every life a little rain must fall. ~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
 Into every life a little sun must shine!

It's bittersweet to pack up and move. I know I may have a couple days of chaos where I may not be able to create as I get settled in. But I'm looking forward to it! 

I have prepared my pics for the next few days as I transition, gathering recent moments from my life to share with you. 

Artfully Yours, 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

TEST Post: Staking my Claim on Bloglovin' :-)

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Daily Paper Prompt #1 ~ Paint a Rainbow

Who could resist this art prompt? I started the 61 Daily Paper Prompt series via Daisy Yellow Art. And what a colorful beginning!

I was humming Somewhere Over the Rainbow and felt like I was in 1st grade again! Happy times.

Daily Paper Prompt #1
I added a little reflection using the iPiccy app. Gives a heavenly quality to it, I think. :-) I'm still smiling!

Materials used:
Derwent Inktense Watercolor Pencils
Micron Pens
4x6 Index Card
Watercolor Brush (Aqua Brushes work well, too)
Orange and Coral Deco Art paint 

Tomorrow: Windows

Artfully yours, 

Capturing "The Moments" No. 1, 2, + 3

I just found out about the October photo challenge on Tammy's popular site Daisy Yellow Art. The goal is to share an imperfect moment each day by creating a square Instagram-style photo. You can read more about it here. I plan to snap some random shots this month, but to get started I culled from recent photos. I'm diving in and sharing my first three moments.


“To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk.” 
Thomas Edison
Homemade Shoebox Lightbox
I was on a time crunch trying to meet a deadline for a wedding invitation design. I desperately needed a lightbox, but didn't have the funds to purchase one brand spanking new. Enter the homemade shoebox lightbox! I had a piece of tempered glass that came from a dorm fridge, a bendable task lamp, but was fretting on a how to design something that would be usable. My husband and I put our heads together and settled on a sturdy box my Teva sandals came in. He used a box knife to help cut a space for the glass to rest on the lid, and a hole on the side for the lamp to fit inside the box. A little electrical tape to hold everything in place, flip the switch, and viola! I was back in business. I met my deadline and have a nice lightbox for small projects. I still haven't cleaned the fingerprints off the inside of the glass...hey, I was in a hurry to get my wedding invitation commission finished! But who cares? That's the messy side of creativity!

“Art is a kind of mining," he said. "The artist a variety of prospector searching
 for the sparkling silver of meaning in the earth.” ~ Jane Urquhart
 Birch Bark Treasures
My second Moment centers around my art scavenger hunt on one of my evening walks. Every day I passed a birch tree in my neighborhood and eyed the beautiful paper-thin birch bark rippling in the wind, tempting me. I finally gave in and gathered a few fragments. I held them in my hand like a child tightly clutching a treasure, and found some other objects along the way....a seed pod, a stalk of grass, a wooden checkered fragment from who-knows-what. I looked down at the birch and saw tiny white spiders hanging my spindly threads in the breeze. I gently shook them off and and I was stunned by the sheer poetry of it all. If I had a pencil, I would have maybe wrote down a few ideas on my newly found parchments, or perhaps a scribbled a sketch or two. The pile now sits in my studio, ready to be used in a collage or mixed media painting. 

"Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" ~ Monty Python
Kitsch at the Cemetery
I regularly walk in the cemetery across the street in the evenings. It's a quiet place to think and chew on "life's gristle", and sometimes even sketch or journal. I smiled when I saw the decorations on one tombstone...a row of those kitschy solar-powered dancing flowers waving at me behind a patriotic windmill. It almost makes me want to start whistling a happy tune....

Some things in life are bad
They can really make you mad

Other things just make you swear and curse.
When you're chewing on life's gristle
Don't grumble, give a whistle
And this'll help things turn out for the best...

And...always look on the bright side of life... 

Always look on the light side of life...
 A little video (I'll have to add the whistling later!)

Artfully yours,

Lighten UP!

As an artist, I'm such a VISUAL person. I need something I can look at, especially when I'm trying to reach a specific goal. Prompted to develop healthier habits, I re-joined Spark People a little over a year ago. I was prompted by one Spark group to create a vision board to inspire weight loss. I love collage, of course, so naturally a vision board is a perfect project to work in that medium! Months later, I still enjoy looking at my inspiration board and find it helps me to remember who I am as an artist, just as much as a reminder to be healthy and happy. 

Here is what I came up with:

I used the cardboard backing of a scrapbook paper stack for the base. I adhered a couple pretty scrapbook papers to this with some gel medium (great for collages). One paper was rainbow colored and the other had repeated text that said "You Rock." Though neither are visible in the final piece, they helped inspire me during the creation. That's the beauty of collage....building up layers and sometimes adding or removing sections to add depth and dimension. 

The instructions were to use words from magazines, so I spent a few minutes quickly flipping through several magazines and snipping words or ripping out pages. I didn't over-think this, but let it become an intuitive process. Certain words jumped out, and most were related to the idea of a fresh start but also creativity. 

I took the whimsical image of the laughing model with flowers in her hair from a folder of magazine pics I had saved specifically for art journaling. I think she was originally part of a Clinique ad. It was gratifying to finally use this fun pic in an art piece. I attached these words and pics with gel medium and allowed it to dry. The super heavy gel medium added texture to the piece. 

Then I got out my acrylics (tubes and craft paint) and began adding color. I made it bright and bold, using orange and turquoise as the main colors with pops of pink. The orange is very motivating and energetic to me, and I love using it often in my work. I loved adding the large paintbrushes from a Dick Blick sales flyer laying around. After the paint dried, I added some more color. Then I went over portions with a white paint marker. Finally, I outlined certain letters and elements with a gel pen. I am very happy with the results. 

Here are some phrases in the piece, and an explanation of why I added them:
  • "Lighten Up!" This carries multiple meanings. It speaks of being happy and positive, looking on the bright side of life and not taking things so seriously. Another meaning is to lighten your load, lay down burdens, and lighten up physically by shedding a few extra pounds!
  • "Yes...I am a unique, filled artist." A declaration that I am not unfulfilled or lacking in my life or in my art. God's love fills me and I am a reservoir of ideas, hopes and dreams. 
  • "I did it!" With childlike glee, I shout out that I've reached a goal...whether that is weight loss, choosing a healthy habit, or creating something wonderful.
  • "Wake Up!" I need a little trumpet next to this phrase. I feel I've been asleep creatively and spiritually....this is also a wake-up call to change my health for the better.
  • "Celebrating Fresh Starts" This is a new beginning. I am believing for a blossoming in business, art, and relationships. I am starting anew, putting aside past failures and moving forward. 
  • "Funky and fun....free-spirited, colorful, and all on my own....always evolving." These were words to express individual styles but they fit so well in this collage. This is the kind of artist and person I want to be. 
  • "Fresh Dreams" It's time to "Dream Big" and reach for the stars. Make new goals and plans.
  • "Vibrant" That is what I want my life and art to be. Alive, blooming, growing, thriving. I want to be more active physically and in relationships, not remain stagnant. 
  • "Advice: Try Something New every day" This is a key to staying fresh, vibrant and new. This makes life interesting. I want to live with a sense of adventure and discovery. 

Artfully yours,