Friday, March 27, 2015


   Early, on a bright summer day, I readied the children for church. Listening for sounds from downstairs I expected Grandma and Grandpa to come up, ready to join us. Grandpa emerged from the stairs, head down and serious.
"Grandma isn't feeling well. Why don't you go ahead."
I felt a dread rise up within me but scurried to get us all there by 9:00 am. 
On the way home, as we turned onto our tree-lined street, I noticed their car was gone. A note was left on the kitchen counter.
"Grandma insisted we go home. We are heading back to Texas."
What? I was dumbfounded. I wandered around trying to make sense of this action. I called my husband who was on a business trip.

    " It was probably due to your conversation last night. I'm sure she didn't understand your point of view."
I thought back to the night before. I was standing at the kitchen sink, exhausted after a day in the city, sightseeing. When visitors come from out of state I always feel duty-bound to show them the sights. My tiredness may have turned to an all out case of crankiness. I remember Grandma sitting at the table tense. 
"I would really like to know what you would enjoy doing tomorrow." 
Did I say that with an edge to my voice?
Grandma always went along with all our ideas. Honestly, I did not know what she liked to do. 
Long story short, I was offended by her sudden departure. Six months went by without a phone call or letter. I talked to Grandpa and he played the go between. I have learned how she felt years later. Not because we ever discussed it, because my husband's family did not talk much, but because we forgave each other for the break in connection and renewed our love with time. I see now how she was so vulnerable coming into my space. Her compliance was a gift I did not value. By judging her actions as passive and less than courageous, I alienated her trust and she could not stay under my roof another minute. I was so sorry. We mended that break and before she died I felt close and loved and appreciated. I think she felt the same from me. This life lesson is close to my heart as I undergo breaks and mending with others in my family. A relationship can break but I trust in my Savior Jesus Christ to mend the details. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Kleine Gabi

    Born the only girl and last child after a break of twelve years, I was a bit spoiled. My family referred to me as kleine Gabi. Gabi was a nick name and kleine is small in german. This memory of what I was like to others inspired me to do a series of watercolors with the same character. My skills at drawing and watercolor are limited to I readily admit that she is inconsistent in size and feature.

   I also admit that I was never this adventuresome, but in my imagination there was nothing I couldn't do. I took some liberties with placing Gabi in more recent settings but these would be more recognized by my grandchildren.

   My watercolor pursuits have been enhanced by a teacher named Gina Lee Kim, who does the most lovely washes. I owe her a debt of gratitude for sharing her talent and process for us to replicate.

    There are elements of mixed media in these pairings. A cutout paper adhered onto the watercolor adds texture and interest.

      I should also say that Naoko Stoop inspired my invention of kleine Gabi, Her Red Knit Cap Girl captured me, totally. I copied her image in sketches and started a desire to invent my own little girl who had adventurous stories.

   I have more ideas waiting in a queue in my head so there will be improvement and change ahead for this little girl who is very endearing to me.

Friday, March 20, 2015


    "Don't ever buy me another book. If it isn't on my phone or tablet I won't read it."
     My son's impassioned declaration made me smile. I imagined his birthday present and Christmas present sitting under a pile of discarded clothing, never to see the light of day.
      "I'll never read on a tablet! I must have the smell of print, the ability to doodle in the margins, and post it notes peeking over the top edge. Otherwise it isn't real."
      Opposite sentiments from my daughter were just as impassioned. Looking around at the shelves of her books in my house made me grimace. One day would she move her hoard to a home of her own?

    Which is more real? Print versus digital is not a clear issue for me. I use both with equal success. Lighter weight tablets made reading in bed enjoyable. I still like writing in the margins and underlining. It helps me remember where passages are located. The page stays in my head and I can visualize the doodles. But, there are books on my tablet I decided I would never care to own. Delete is an easy way to recycle. The debate will be last, at least until the electricity stays on.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Women In Council

   Mary And Elizabeth are wonderful examples of women of different ages counseling together. Their miraculous birth stories are often the main take away but I see even more. Elizabeth is having a longed for experience that most women in Bible days have much earlier in life. It must have caused tumult in her aging mind and her aging body. Being in a similar life experience with Mary must have made her feel young again. Mary is staying with Elizabeth because in her she has a refuge from prying eyes. When Mary looks at Elizabeth she sees a woman who knows the truth. The whole miraculous truth.

                   "What a wonderful model they are of feminine nurturing between generations...."

    On Monday nights four women come together in my home to strengthen and uphold womanhood. Three are yet unmarried in their early thirties, one is sixty and married with five grown children. Two are active members of the Church of Jesus Christ Of Latter-Day Saints, one inactive, and one a non-member. This meeting started as a book club reading "Daring Greatly" by BrenĂ© Brown, but it has evolved into a group who voluntarily come together to strengthen and support. 
   Last Monday one suggested an activity that made everyone very self-conscious. Each woman was to think of a negative story or statement they say to themselves. Free-writing about this topic started the activity. One by one they looked at each other and made the statement out loud. Then the speaker closed their eyes while the others, calling the speaker by name, made an opposite, true statement. The negative stories seemed more alike than different. I am weak. I am forgettable. I am a afraid to be alone. I will always be alone. Self-conciousness melted away replaced by a feeling of belonging.
   The positive affirmations were powerful. You are never far from my thoughts. You are stronger than you think. You are enough even when you are alone. God is always with you.
   I am honored to be the older woman in this special group. I feel we are reaching for a place of equality. A place where being a woman is the important criteria, not age or experience. 

Monday, March 16, 2015

Art Journal or Creative Journal

     Art Journaling is very popular. When I post on Instagram I wonder if I should use #artjournal or #creativejournal?  What is the difference? I listened to a podcast by five artists. They tried to explain their views and find consensus.  Creative journaling is:

    Art journals are like small paintings. They are made to be shared and shown as art. I have been making art as I read the Book of Mormon. My journal is full of sketches to remind me of important principles  and extraordinary scripture verses.

    I like to use the word "art journal". But my process is certainly a learning and healing process. Perhaps differentiating is not vital. Whatever it is called it brings me joy.

Friday, March 13, 2015


         Planning is a regular part of my life. Teaching plans, making to do lists, all happen throughout the week. The weaker part of the planning process is finishing my plan. I will say that I am so much better at finishing than in years past.

Faith is an action word. I show my faith in God and in myself by acting on those plans revealed to me through the spirit. This year I want to ribbistrate. If the meaning of this word is new to you click here. Nature is teaching me how.

      The natural world has a resilience from which I can learn. Each season the plants ribbistrate with joy and give all they have. Even if the environment is less than adequate they push up, out, and over the obstacles in their path.

     I am inviting nature to be visible around me even more this month. It is my plan. I have taken action.

I write on Fridays with a large group who inspire me. Only five minutes and without much thought to perfection. I write, prompted by one word that sends my thoughts to the keyboard and hopefully make sense.

Friday, March 6, 2015


      When I read the word prompt today for Five Minute Friday I thought of gathering people together, first. That seemed to be the obvious subject in my head. I looked around me and remembered my thoughts on the gathering of things. I am trying to purge and often go through a process of deciding what is necessary and what should go.

       Conversations came to mind with friends over the subject of visual beauty and the effect it has on our thinking and motivation. Gathering together beautiful things can ready the mind to action, it can soothe the mind to create comfort, and it can open the heart to be mindful.

   I am drawn to people who can gather objects together that alone seem useless but together make a story. The stories are sometimes melancholy. A picture of the past, a ball of twine, or a teacup used decades ago; all together create a quilt of loving and losing.

     I consciously gather objects on my art desk. My eyes roam over them when I can't go forward with a painting. Sometimes it is a color, a shape, or even the parallel lines of of the outside of a container that catch my fancy and a new idea surfaces.

   As fast as I gather I can also toss. In a moment of righteous cleaning I throw out things willy nilly. Power to remove is as important as the gift to gather; with things, that is. In truth, I sometimes search for  objects I remember loving and find them gone.

          We live in a throw away world. Nevertheless, I do value gathering things that are beautiful, memorable, and motivating. Some things have lasted my lifetime and a few are objects that were gathered by lives before me. Those are precious, indeed.
        I write on Fridays with a large group who inspire me. Only five minutes and without much thought to perfection. I write, prompted by one word that sends my thoughts to the keyboard and hopefully make sense.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Teaching Our Grandchildren

     I am a fan of the British Baking Show. Nancy, who just won the title of Star Baker, is humble but so competent. When they showed footage of her baking with her eight grandchildren I felt a kinship.

      Teaching our grandchildren what we love is right. Put simply, that's what we should do. Will they listen and enjoy our teaching? Hmmm….that may fluctuate with age but if I were Nancy's granddaughter I would go over to Grannie's as often as possible.

    My mother taught her love of sewing and gardening. The two suits we are wearing on the right are handmade on her treadle machine. I loved the yellow pastel jacket over the yellow sheath. I wish I still had that one. Her little off-white suit with brown collar had tiny polka dots. Marta was stylish. If sewing has stayed a viable option to buying ready made perhaps more of us would have her skill.

    I am passing on piano skills and art. I find that I do these two actives every time I have my Grands. It is natural and peaceful. They are peevish sometimes and refuse to cooperate but I just go on without them. Let them bury their heads into their screens. When they resurface they will want to see what i am doing.

        Mother, your skills were not wasted. Whenever I see a beautiful garden I think of you. Whenever I see amazing stitching I remember your artwork on pillows, pictures, and our dresses. I'm passing on the desire to create.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Steal Like An Artist

     Yohji Yamamoto, an award winning and influential Japanese fashion designer once said, "Start copying what you love. Copy copy copy copy. At the end of the copy you will find yourself." Here are some artists I'm copying because I love their work.
    Jacqui Lown  fires up my imagination. There are elements to her painting which draw me to a magic place. Between the worlds is such a painting. Here is my version in watercolor and paper.

   I snapped a picture of her postcard behind my watercolor. My colors are different  but the secret place under the earth, where new life is sprouting, is just as inviting in my copy.

       Jay Bryant Ward paints wonderful faces and scenes with Jesus Christ. They are luminous. I used another postcard version to embed in a mixed media painting. I am lifted up seeing that every day.

       In an Art Journaling magazine I found the work of Caltrin Wetz-Stein. She is so unique and different. I cut out all her illustrations. One small copy appears in my mixed media a painting below. I tried to keep her style both with color and style. My husband asked to keep this one. He has it by his desk.

      Currently I'm taking watercolor classes from Gina Lee Kim. We do a project together following her instructions. I copy but then feel compelled to do something of my own. Copying is a springboard to my creativity.

     I would never sell anything with an image someone else created unless I had permission. but for my own pleasure, I copy.
     " It is better to take what does not belong to you than let it lie around neglected."
                  Mark Twain