Thursday, April 21, 2016

1st Annual Spring Journal Scavenger Hunt

Blue Hydrangea, 2011 by B. Richardson
As a last hurrah for spring, and to get us all outside and seeing things in our world in a more artistic light, we thought it would be a great idea to do a month-long challenge beginning May 1st.  Just you, your camera (or phone camera) and your journal.  We realize some of you are just now digging out from late winter storms, and others of us are rushing to enjoy the last of our temperate weather before the big heat sets in, but getting outside and enjoying our environment will be the big plus for this challenge.

This is a 31-day photo challenge, that involves an A to Z photo scavenger hunt + 5 bonus challenges to round out the month.  You will find and photograph subjects from A to Z and 5 creative bonus items. We are going to award prizes!!!


Contest and participation is open only to members of ARTFUL JOURNEYS and/or ARTFUL WRITING, our two journaling groups.  If you are not a member and want to participate, follow the link and ask to join us.  In either group, you will find a post where you can ask to join the secret group and you will be added.

You do not have to be a professional photographer. Use whatever camera you have available. Use your phone camera. Use your fancy-schmancy camera. It's all good.  All photographs must be posted in the secret group for consideration.  Winning photographs will remain the property of the photographer, but winners will have to agree to have their winning photographs featured on our blog, in our groups and via other electronic media and/or groups.  We will ask the winners to sign a waiver of liability and authorize us to use their names and images.  Winners will get full artistic credit.

For each day of the month of May, you will need to find and photograph something that would fall under the category of A to Z, + the 5 bonus challenges to round out the month.  For example, for "A" you might photograph an apple, some street art, or an arbor.  Some letters of the alphabet might require some creative license, and we're good with that, as long as you tell us which category your photo applies.  For example, the letter "X" might be more difficult, and we certainly would accept something creative like "x-traordinary", "x-ceptional" as well as something specific like xylophone.  For the letter "Z", you might visit a zoo, see a zebra, or come across something zany as your subject matter.  Hopefully you get the idea.
Unfolding Hibiscus, 2014 by B. Richardson
As you take your photographs, keep lighting, composition and your subject matter in mind.

We are thinking that you can add these photographs to your art journals, your writing journals or make up a whole new journal just for this challenge, whether you art it up, art around it, or write about the experience surrounding the photograph.  We would love to see the end result if you are taking an artful journey with this challenge!

You can take all your photographs on one day or over the course of just a few days if you have the time, take one a day or several a day. Take a drive, take a long walk or walks and carry your prompt list (and idea list!) and see what you can find on these journeys. You can shoot and submit your photographs in any order, beginning MAY 1 thru JUNE 3rd,  but YOU MUST LABEL EACH POSTED PHOTO in the secret group with the hashtag #JSH-A, #JSH-B, #JSH-C, etc. or #JSH-1, #JSH-2, etc for the five bonus categories and tell us what it is we are seeing -- e.g.  #JSH-Q  Quiet scene or QUILT so that we know your photograph applies to the specific A-Z category or bonus group.  If you want to tell us more about where the photo was taken or other information, that would be wonderful.  But your first line in the post should be the hashtag, letter (or #) and subject. 

Weeds are Beautiful, Too  July, 2012 by B. Richardson

Post photographs in the secret group only, not in AJ or AW.  One photograph per letter A-Z, and one photograph per bonus categories only to be judged.  If you choose to submit multiple photographs per category, the first one posted will be judged.  We're happy to see them all, but in fairness to everyone, only the first one posted will be judged.

Each photograph must be posted individually.  No multiple photo posts, and no direct  blog posts.  If you blog about the experience, we are happy for you to share these posts with the group, but your photo entries must be posted individually.  Do not add any labeling, names or dates to your photographs with any editing software so that we can keep the judging fair for all concerned.

  • 1st place:  $50 gift card to Michael's, Hobby Lobby or (winner's choice)
  • 2nd place: $25 gift card to Michael's, Hobby Lobby or (winner's choice)
  • 3rd place: $15 gift card to Michael's, Hobby Lobby or (winner's choice)
Initial judging will be done by the 4 group admins and 10 finalists will be selected, one photo per finalist.  Then the ten photographs selected will be judged by a group of 3 independent persons (that I will select and submit the photos to for review & consideration) who have no personal knowledge of any of the contestants or entries, and the winners will be determined by them. Judging criteria:  photograph composition, representation of the "category," and overall pleasantness/artistry of the photograph.

WINNERS will be announced on Monday, June 6th  in the secret group and shared elsewhere following the close of the challenge.

So commit to joining us on this fun challenge.  We'll all be participating, but admins are ineligible for prizes.  Break out your cameras, and enjoy this artful challenge.  You're going to have fun creating art journal pages, writing about your experience(s) and of course, when you win, shopping with your prize money!

We're keeping it artful!

~Betty, Melody, Lynn and Shana

Friday, March 4, 2016

ARTFUL WRITING: 12 Easy Ways to T-ART Up Your Boring Writing Pages

You don't have to have pages and pages of just writing in your journals.  Why should you?  I can't tell you how many years and journals I have filled with page after page of just plain old boring writing. And I love to write, but looking back, why didn't it ever occur to me to make those pages pretty?

After I started on my journey of mixed media and art journals a few years ago, I started applying some of this knowledge, in a more stripped-down kind of way, to my writing journals, just so they wouldn't be so boring.  Sure, many of us have and use our art journals for "some" journaling, but in a different way. I think our art journals are more "art" oriented, and less about the actual journaling of life's daily events, memories, self-truths and exploration.  I journal for these latter reasons, and I art journal for these same reasons, but in a far more visual and exploratory way.

So today, I wanted to give you all some tips and ideas of how you can tart up your writing journals to keep you interested in journaling every-single-day, and of course make them visually pleasing for you to go back through, next week or even next year.

1.  Use basic supplies like colored inks, pens, markers to create borders on your pages.  These pages I just used two different colors of markers, one with a solid line, one with squiggles; and I added some doodly lettering on Leap Day.

2.  Perhaps add decorative scrap papers around the edges.  On this page, this fancy border was around a picture I had cut out to use on another project. It was too pretty to throw out, and it was just laying on my desk.  This particular day I also used water soluble crayon (NeoColors) to create a quick colored border to go with the paper.

3.  How about adding some doodled or tangled bordersChange the color of your ink.

You can change the whole look of your day just by changing the color of ink you are writing with.  Adding doodled or tangled borders makes the page have a ton more interest, and will help you with your tangle practice, too!

4.  ADD MAGAZINE IMAGE(S) or FOUND WORDS you clipped and saved in that big pile you are "saving" for your art journals but aren't using.  Pick one to go with your "color theme" of the day. In this example, I did both.  This particular page precedes my actual "journaling" and combines numerous other elements, including a journaling card, doodles, a border, a quote, etc.

5.  WASHI TAPE.  You can use it quick and easy, down and dirty.  Tart up some pages while you're watching television.  Grab a few rolls and a pair of scissors.  Presto -- gorgeous!  This page uses skinny tape everywhere. I made a header at the top, down both sides, and across the bottom of the left page.  Note also the doodles, magazine images, use of colored pencils.  These type pages precede my actual journaling pages and often depict things I did during the day or want to record that day.  My days aren't very exciting so I can go a little bit crazy with the tarting up.

6.  ADD A FAVORITE QUOTE.  We all love quotes. We collect quotes.  Record them in your journal. Use a highlighter to make them stand out, or color them up!

7.  RECORD YOUR DAY'S APPOINTMENTS & ACTIVITIES using figural images (stick figures) or doodly images.  Representing your day in an ARTFUL way, might relieve some of the pressure some of you feel about "writing."  I usually make a block on my first page of my "to-do" items. Better than expressing it in a boring way, right?   Yes, I know some of us only  having mundane things to do like cleaning, laundry, taking care of the kids or grandkids.  But wouldn't a cute little sketch of a laundry basket look a lot more fun?  And, you are representing YOUR day, your activities in addition to all that soul searching and deep thinking.  You can find a ton of representational images on Pinterest using the search words: planner icons, stick figures, etc.

8.  SLAP SOME PAINT ON IT.  I have added paint to quite a few of my journaling pages, well, because I could, and I just wanted to do so.  I am currently writing in a Miguel Ruis medium graph journal right now, and the paper is fairly thin, so I have glued 2 pages together on most days just to support whatever I decide to throw at my journal.  Mind you, this is NOT my art journal.  This is my writing journal and also planner that i am doing in the Hobonichi style.  This particular page, I used Dylusions Acrylic and babywipes and had just gotten started working on it when I took this pic, so it was still a work in progress.  The writing surface was super smooth and I have prepped quite a few more for the days ahead.  Note this page also has washi tape, doodled borders and a magazine image on it already. Late night fun for me. LOL.  And here is the finished page.      


I don't add too many stickers to my journaling pages, although I have quite a stash of them.  Not sure why I don't.  Think about stickers that represent what you did that day, what you saw.  Use alpha stickers to add the date and day.  Go ahead, stick on those cute butterfly stickers you've been saving and saving.  Now is a good time! There are lots of options with so many variety of stickers available today.  I think I don't add them because I am really trying to work on my own drawing skills. Yes, that must be it.  But I get lazy, too, so I might start adding more.

10.  USE DECORATIVE RIBBONS, BRADS & OTHER EMPHEMERA.  Just the other day I added some decorative ribbon tape to my journal.  The texture of it was very nice.  I just ran it down both the far left and right margins of my writing pages.  Boom!  Color!

11.  ADD A COLORING PAGE (or part of one).  In this example, I cut up a page out of my "Color Me Calm" coloring book.  It was a mandala that I cut in half.  Half on the preceding planner part of my journal and half on my journaling pages. Big splash of color and it really works and was easy as pie.  (After it was colored, of course).  Going to do some more of these in this journal.  I enjoyed writing around all the work I had spent a few evenings coloring.  A fun way to enjoy it all again.

12.  USE THOSE RUBBER STAMPS!  Okay, I know you  have a big stash of rubber stamps just waiting on a reason to be used.  Add a super cutie to one of your writing pages.  Give it a quick color in with some colored pencils.  Voila!  I went crazy on this planner page part of my journal when that big blizzard hit the northeast.  The snowman, snowflakes, the banner.  I thought it turned out pretty cute considering I did absolutely nothing that day but stay in the house, hiding under my favorite quilt.

So there you go.  Twelve ways you can spice up your writing journals.  You can add visual interest that pleases you. You can do all of these things while you are being a slug on sofa. No big artistic skills required.  And if you are really organized, you can get several days to a week or more done ahead and ready to write (doodle, draw, stamp, color, collage, glue) your hearts out.  I know you guys are all uber-creative and can come up with dozens of more creative ways to make your journaling pages pretty and less boring!

As always, we're keeping it artful, and hope you are too.  Enjoy your journals!

~~Betty aka Arty Auntie

Melody, Lynn and Shana

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Tangle Tuesday at Artful Journeys

Hi everyone!  This week we're going to add an official Zentangle Design, called "Zinger" that is so versatile you will want to add it to all  your tangles and doodles in your art journals.  My initial practice of this design led to more and more ideas of how I could use it as a border, a stand alone design, and as an embellishment to other drawings. The list is endless.

In the examples shown by creator Maria Thomas, co-owner of Zentangle and named at CZT Conference 4 by Sue Clark, a couple of different variations are shown in multiple applications.  I know you will have a lot of fun with this one.

You can find the full article HERE and detailed instructions HERE

I can't wait to see how you incorporate this fun and versatile design into your journals and your artwork!

Remember, Zentangle* is a trademarked and copyrighted name of formal and official Zentangle patterns.  We aren't "teaching" you the patterns, only leading you to them each week as an enhancement to to your art repertoire.

As always, keep it artful!



Tuesday, January 26, 2016

ARTFUL JOURNEYS - New Weekly Feature!

Starting today, Tuesday January 26, 2016, we're going to add in a new feature to your journaling activities. One in which you can use repeatedly in your journals!


Each Tuesday, we are going to submit a new tangle or official Zentangle (c) design for you to learn. We will start with some easy, basic designs to get you warmed up and progress to more complicated designs.

Zentangle designs are the "official" patterns developed for Zentangle and the term "zentangle" is a registered trademark.  Tangles, Dangles or other such generic derivatives loosely apply to doodles in general. 

Official Zentangle patterns are generally worked in black ink only. It is recommended you use a permanent ink  (see below for recommendations) in the event  you want to colorize in a variety of methods later.  Zentangles are traditionally practiced on 3.5" x 3.5" tiles (you can cut cardstock, Bristol, watercolor paper, etc) to size, use gridded or plain index cards, draw out in your journal or on a practice page or you can purchase these official tiles directly from Zentangle.  You really don't need any special "stuff" other than a good, permanent ink.

We do not intend to reinvent the wheel, and will be using links to Linda Farmer's site because, primarily, the directions are clear, concise and easy to follow and her site is an excellent reference tool.  Linda is a certified Zentangle Teacher (CZT) -- yes, you have to be "certified" to teach these designs officially.  We're not teaching them. We are leading you to the water in hopes that you drink, and we can all learn something new to add to our artistic repetoire each week!  I will be learning right along with you.

Recommended Pens:  

  • Sakura Micron Pens.  You will ultimately want assorted pen widths, but an .05 is a good mid-range pen to start.  Perhaps select another that is extra fine, like a .01. 
  • Sakura Gelly Pen, in black.  This pen has a fine point, and works excellently.
  • Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pens - Fine and XS are good choices
  • Signo Uniball Pen - micro and bold tips both work well
  • For practice work, you may also want a RED pen.  I use a Sakura Gelly pen.  Your choice.
You can use whatever you want, of course, but I know that these pens will not bleed if you are practicing on thin paper (I do practice squares in my Miguel Ruiz planner, which has very thin paper and is gridded (also helpful).  You could purchase some gridded index cards and practice on those, or just draw out the practice grids into your journal like I did.  I am accumulating quite a collection of separate tiles that I am going to ring bind for future reference as a permanent kind of thing. That's a project for later.  For now, my tiles are living in a recipe box.

When I do a design the first time, as I am prone to mistakes, I use a pencil in lieu of pen for my learning squares for the "black" ink.  I make the second and subsequent strokes with red pen, but you could use a red pencil.  By using two colors, you can see how each Zentangle is formed, step by step.  When I get to the final square, I work the whole pattern in ink, following along the instructions that I have just practiced.  Here's one I did last week in my planner:

There are a number of errors on this.  First, I got the tiles out of order. I didn't do an "inked" final, just the variation in ink.  As  you can see, I did all the study in pencil and ink until the last square. I had many erasures on this tile because I joined the "leaves" (for lack of a better term). I corrected my error and just numbered the tiles for future reference. 

Generally, you can set up a practice grid that consists of 6 individual squares. Each of these squares is 6x6 grid squares, inside a 3.5" x 3.5" "tile". 

Without further adieu, here is this week's pattern.  It's called 4 Corners and was designed by Barbara Finwall.   You can visit the site and read all about it HERE.

Isn't the full Zentangle with variations of this pattern totally awesome?

Please familiarize yourself with Linda's site for all her helpful tips and suggestions.  Start HERE

I'm excited to share this fun and versatile technique with you all each week, and as I said, I will be learning these patterns right along with you each week!

As always, keep your world artful.

~~Betty aka Arty Auntie

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Artful Tactics with Shana - Painting a face using Dylusions paints

Sooooo.... I did the art journal prompt #17 yesterday using the Dylusions paint and the main question I received was how I created the smooth skin and shadows of the whimsy girl face in my spread, so I decided to do a video of just a basic face to show how to create the facial contours using a very basic pallet.

Creating a smooth face with shadows is all about blending so using the Dylusions paints already makes the process easier since they are made to blend. Normally when I do a face I either work quickly so the paint is still blend-able or I mix my mediums so I can blend in the highlights and shadows over top of the paint. Additive can be used if you only want to use acrylic paint like slow-dry mediums or using many wet layers of paint.

I love that I can just use the Dylusions paints without having to hurry or work so hard at blending, I used mainly my fingers to create the blends. In the blog I will show you the step by steps of creating the skin, I will also put the video of the full process below!

The 1st step is to create the outline, these are also the darkest shadows in the face.

I used the the Melted Chocolate to make this outline, Melted Chocolate would be the 1st step in any natural color skin tone.

The second step is to clean the brush and remove the excess water, you still want the brush to be damp.

Using the clean damp brush blend or smooth out the lines, don't worry about it being neat! details come later!

Now its time for the magic to happen, grab your White Linen paint.

Load your brush up and smoosh the paint all over the face, again, it doesn't need to be beautiful at this point!

Here is where we get our hands dirty!

Use your fingers to blend the colors together, I suppose a tool could be used but I have never used one, I just love having painty hands!

if at any time you have trouble blending dampen your finger with water, you do not want dripping water, if you can wet a sponge to use to dampen your finger.

 Apply two dots, these are actually a bit to much, of Postbox Red to the cheeks

and use your finger to blend, the picture on the right is after blending the red in, Note the lack of perfection!

We now need to add another layer of White Linen to tone down the cheeks a bit! again we are blending with out fingers! also at this point if you feel (as I did) the nose is to short or needs additional highlight add a bit more white at the tip and blend up into the forehead.

The last step is to go back to your original base color, in this case the Chocolate Brown, add more shadows and blend if needed.

You can finally pick your brush back up, add your darkest shadowed features, top lip, bottom lip shadow, bottom of nose and the top lash line of the eyes.

You now have a wonderful blank face to add features to! If you watch the video below you can see how I completed the simple faced girl!

Hope you try it! Have fun!!

-Big Hugs and Mushy Stuff

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Artful Tactics with Shana! DecoArt Media Misters

Don't get me wrong, I LOVE the Dylusions sprays, but sometimes you just want the background to stay put without the extra step of putting a fixative on it. I have found a new love--The DecoArt Media Misters.

The Inks sprays are great, they come in a bunch of colors and the awesome added bonus-- once they are dry they will not be reactivated with wet media you put on top of them! I did a quick video today of some play time with them just to show you how nice they are. I used Hot press watercolor paper and put a base of gesso down on half of it so you could see how it reacts.

The other added bonus is that is if you are like me and always 'forget' to clean your stencils after using inks sprays you don't have to worry about the cross contamination when you use them again because the ink will not reactivate.

I will still use my Dylusions sprays but I love having another awesome medium in my arsenal of creativity!

I hope you enjoy my little video of my playtime!

Big Hugs and Mushy stuff!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Finding True Happiness

Yesterday, I watched Oprah Winfrey's Super Soul Sunday with Shawn Achor, author of four books, two most recent publications being The Happiness Advantage and his latest, Before Happiness.  Achor is a graduate of Harvard University, and a leading researcher in Positive Psychology.  Both of these hour-long programs were powerful, uplifting and spoke to me in a way I have never thought about happiness before. I will be re-watching them again and again.  Hooray for TiVo! 

This is rather a long-winded post, but it is important, at least to me, to share this information, and to help you help yourselves.  I am sharing my happiness and this lesson so that you, too, can find this for yourself.

Achor says that the ancient Greeks defined happiness as "The joy that we feel striving for our potential."  And we tend to search for happiness in all the wrong ways.  Happiness tied to tangible things is fleeting. For instance -- if we "just get that raise" or "make that sale" or get "that promotion" - the momentary feeling of happiness is great and wonderful, but dissipates quickly.  True feelings of happiness has to be defined to the way we live our lives.  The true feelings of happiness come from our external circumstances, how we live our lives, how we interact with others, how we spread the joy and happiness around us.  Success and wealth does not always lead to happiness. Optimism is the key.   How we live our lives, how we interact with others, how we share with the world links us inextricably to happiness.

During the course of Oprah's interview, Achor says it doesn't matter if you were born predisposed to being happy or not. It matters not whether you see the glass as half full or half empty, because the "pitcher" is right there, available for you to fill up your glass, and the glass of others at any time.  If we choose to create positive habits in our lives, happiness becomes easier and easier.  The more we connect to other people fills up our glass, and by doing so, it fills the glass of others around us, allowing them to see happiness and be happy too.   And happiness can be a learned condition.  By reinforcing the positive things in your life and being happy, you radiate this happiness to others, helping them choose to be happier.  Choosing to make happiness for ourselves in the present, we make it possible for others to do the same.  You are continually filling your glass. It matters not how you perceive it.  Change your life by choosing happiness

5 habits of "happiness hygiene" were identified.  Everyone has a "happiness bar" -- that level where you feel happiness, joy and contentment.  But you can easily raise the bar by developing happiness habits over a 21 day period of "habit forming."  Remember, we already talked about developing good habits, like writing in  your journal every day.  At the end of the 21 day exercise, you will have formed a habit of gratitude, thankfulness and improved your happiness bar. Keep it up, and keep raising that bar and turning your life to full-on happiness.

1.  Every morning, list three (3) new things you are grateful for.  Put them in your journal; say them out loud to yourself.  Smile more. It changes your brain chemistry, and according to Ophrah, "gratitude can change your vibrational frequency in the world." Gratitude changes what is drawn to you, and shows your mind that your behavior matters.
2.  Identify one (1) meaningful experience that occurred over the last 24 hours. Journal about this experience in full detail, reinforcing how it was meaningful, why it was meaningful and how it made you feel. Do this for 21 days.  Simple changes in our outlook have the power to make us happier.
3.  Write a 2-minute email or message thanking or praising someone. By phone or in person is even better.  Choose a different person every day for 21 days.  You are extending gratitude and happiness to others, and the impact on you and your life are measurably improved by it.
4.  Exercise - by exercising at least 15 minutes a day, you signal your brain that your behavior matters. You free your mind from unnecessary life noise and the endorphins experienced during exercise lighten your mood.  Do something cardio in nature -- even just a simple 15 minute walk.
5.  Meditation - the more time you can spend in stillness or silence reaps exponential benefit.  If you are like me and many others -- your mind won't settle down and is all over the place when trying to "meditate" -- spend 2 minutes watching your breath go in and out.  Your mind and your body will relax.  Again you are reinforcing good body behavior to your brain.

All of these five habits create a positive ripple effect to the people around you and to whom you are connected.

Identify and cultivate parts of your life that are meaningful.  For instance, if you have only one thing in your life that is meaningful (ie your child, your job, a sale, a simple 'thing'), then you are in a very fragile place.  If you have more meaningful parts of your life, you can be buoyed by them and not hit rock bottom when the one singular thing you hold meaningful falls apart.  You can still feel meaning so you can keep moving forward in your life.  You can use these multiple meaningful points to work on the area that is frustrating.  These multiple meaningful areas of your life sustain you with hope, promise and gratitude, to see you through the rough times.

Achor also believes that spirituality is tied directly to happiness. And there are immeasurable avenues for you to explore your spiritual past and your own spirituality.  Spirituality is a way of BEING - not necessarily a way of faith or worship.  It is a way of living. A way of doing. A way of living your life. Your own spirituality will guide you to happiness.  In giving an example based on Romans 2:12, Achor quoted: "No longer conform to the patterns of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind ... "  There are many versions and translations of this verse in many cultures worldwide, but the thought is the same.  You can change your mind from what is learned from the world, to find good, joy and happiness through study, practice and implementation.  We can learn to be happy, despite the world around us.

Life in our world is bombarded by our hyper-connectivity, making our lives and our brains exceptionally noisy.  Eliminating this "noise" is one of the biggest hurdles when it comes to being happy according to Achor.  Our minds are huge noisemakers in our lives. It's that EGO, the constant chatter in our heads that cause us to doubt, fear, and make bad choices.  All that noise is deafening, blocking out the positive signals that are always around us, which blocks us from true happiness.  Clearing your mind of the noise, the worry (which is brain noise) and seeking the quiet time for ourselves, achieved during meditation or quiet reflection, will free us from the negative noise and allow positive thoughts and energy into our brains.  Worry eats away at people's happiness -- and it gets in the way. The brain processes "noise" first (the negative), and then it processes the meaning.  If your brain has a lot of "noise" it never gets the meaning or gratitude in your life.  If you don't block out the noise, this also will up the stress levels of your life,  By decreasing the amount of external noise or information coming into our brains, we can find quiet meaning and a sense of worth and gratitude.

We all know that the world is mostly negative.  The more you "study" the negative and reinforce it, you become it, absorbing that noise.  If you're late for a meeting, you constantly look at your watch, reinforcing the negative. Look for something positive in the face of negativity and negative impacts in your life.  You can always use a mantra as a "noise" canceller.  Quit feeding the noise and focus the brain on things on things to move you forward.

Making us happy right now ...

If you fully visualize something you are looking forward to, a vacation, a special engagement, by living the event fully before it happens, with all the joy and anticipation of feeling 'happy' -- your brain doesn't know the difference between visualization and actual experience.  So if you are visualizing something positive that is going to happen in the future, you are literally doubling the positive effect on your life, causing you to not only feel it when it happens, but helping you to feel it now.  So in effect, that future positive event if affecting and shaping how you feel when you wake up in the morning, and the way you interact with others.

Recognize that happy moments show up in your life for a reason. 
Use random acts of kindness as a happiness multiplier.  We have the power to change the reality around us, by helping others choose happiness.

Happiness requires openness.
  This feeling of happiness is a perception you have to be open to receiving.  You deserve to be happy.  Stop hoping for a singular thing to make you happy. It won't. Create your own happiness by receiving it, creating it for others, being receptive to the moments, the lifestyle and the feeling of gratitude and meaning.  By changing your thought processes to a more positive self image and self awareness, you affect the world around you.

By figuring out what happiness really is, you will redefine what happiness is to you.  Find joy in the every day, the moments, the special people in your lives.  Choose to be happy. Choose to be grateful. Choose to spread happiness out into the world, making your own life more joyful.

I choose these things.  Go forth and be happy.


Want to continue to nurture your soul, your mind and your spirit?  Come join us at ARTFUL WRITING by clicking HERE.  We have probing, mindful and creative writing prompts for each day of the year!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Week 4 - Learn to Journal in 4 Weeks

You've done it!  You've arrived at the final week of this 4-week journey.  Congratulations. I'm super proud of you for now developing this awesome new habit, that will hopefully continue to provide you with an avenue of discovery, insight, and overall well-being!  You now have the keys to happiness and well-being for your future.  Only you can unlock the secrets inside.

"Becoming unbridled from an emotionally painful past is key to having a healthy, happy present. When life delivers a less-than-perfect start to our existence, we can become trapped in a mire of self-pity and snagged by negative patterns of thought over things that were largely or entirely out of our control.  But what we do today, and how we proceed tomorrow is entirely in our control."  ~~Sharon Soneff, in "Art Journals Creative Healing, Restoring the Spirit Through Self Expression"

To paraphrase Sharon Soneff, when you journal, this is a method to help you grab hold of the reins of life, a way to find your moral and emotional compass, your path and direction, your spiritual healing.  By self-monitoring through your journal writing, you are making a conscious effort and decision to keep from perpetuating the past or repeating something that you can, at last and finally, put to rest in your heart, mind and soul.  Blazing a trail of self-evolution, from a point that began in a deep, dark valley through your ascension to the mountain top of self-fulfillment is one of the most self-empowering things you will ever do in your life. You are taking control of your life, your emotions, your spiritual well being.  By dedicating the time to writing in your journal and being consistent, you are not going to miss any moments of realization or epiphanies important to moving forward in a positive, healthy way.  Every step you make, every realization you have is an ascension, an accomplishment and success in healing. Each step forward is progress and you become increasingly more enlightened along the way, holding yourself and perhaps others accountable so that you can reach the summit of that emotional mountaintop.

Great freedom emerges when we face our most troubling realities.  Recovery and self-help groups have long espoused the adage that "You're only as sick as your secrets."  Yes, sometimes that trouble represents a very dark part of our past history that needs to come to light.  Your journal is your safe place where you can express the truth of what is going on right now in your life.  A safe harbor. No judgments, no derision, no repercussions.  Just you and your new best friend ... you.  The whole point of writing in this personal way is to let what is churning inside you come out into the light, so you can see it, and deal with it.  It could be that your journaling brings issues to light for which you may truly want and need some professional guidance from a healthcare professional or spiritual advisor.  But for now, the first step toward healing your spirit involves facing your truths and hard realities, no matter how difficult that truth may be.  You are strong or you would not have started this journey. You seek the truth inside you, no matter the outcome.  As has been said many times in the past by many people, the truth shall set you free.  

As you step forward and continue your writing journey, be confident in knowing that you are strong enough to handle it.  You are worthy of the truth. You are empowering your own self-awareness and self-confidence, and leaving the past behind so that you can grow toward the future, toward your dreams, hopes and aspirations.  Every single day is a learning experience. Find something positive about each day and include it in your writing.  Your outlook will change, and negative self-talk will slowly but purposefully take over your conscious being.  You will be enriched and find fulfillment within yourself.  Keep up your commitment to writing every day, and reinforcing all the positives and blessings in your life.

To access this week's final prompts, go HERE 

As you wind up this week's journaling, come visit us at ARTFUL WRITING where we will continue to encourage and support you and provide you with daily writing prompts to spark your creativity and thoughtfulness. Jump in anywhere or on any prompt that intrigues you.  Give us your feedback, chime in to the conversations.  There is no special "place to start" except of course, with the "starting."  Just keep writing.  And thank you for taking this very special journey with us!



Sunday, December 20, 2015

Week 51 - Oh Christmas Tree (or YOUR symbol for your holiday season)

Hey y'all...Melody here this week to bring you our prompt and the girls' interpretations on it!

We all have a certain something that symbolizes our holidays...Christmas trees, menorahs, stars, whatever...and they all mean something different to all of us.  This week's prompt is about that symbol for YOU.  So let's get started, shall we?

 First up this week we have Lynn's beautiful page!  I absolutely love love love it!  Here's what she said about her page:  Painted the page medium pink with a sponge then went over it with a paper towel. It dries faster when I do that. Cut out a tree from a piece of scrapbook paper I had and added stars and a few stickers to it.
Finally I used a snowflake stencil and used Snow White Apple barrel paint and stenciled them on the tree and the page.
I really enjoyed this prompt. Thanks for checking it out girls. Make sure you see what the others came up with.

Next up is my prompt...I have to tell you, I got this idea from another group somewhere and just fell in love with it, and since I'd never done it like this before decided it would be for me!  I used quite a few different colors of washi, and went to town in my journal, leaving a little space between each of the strips, then came back over the strips with some thinner gold foil washi in different patterns for my "tinsel".  I couldn't get a pic that really showed off the shimmer of the gold foil, but it's there.

Next up is Shana, who stepped away from the Christmas tree to do something a little different....and like I said earlier, it's all about what it means to YOU.  Shana's take just blew me away, and I am sure y'all will like it too!

She said:   "I know this isn't a tree, but to me a symbol of Christmas was watching "Its a wonderful life" growing up we didn't always get a tree but we always watched its a wonderful life as a family, and family is to me what the holidays are all about, cherishing simple traditions and time and cherishing them.
I used Derwent light wash pencil, water color paints, prismacolor pencils, acrylic paint, milotow and sharpie paint pens and liquitex gesso in my dylusions journal"

And there you have it!  Miss Betty couldn't play this week due to prior holiday plans, but she'll be back soon!

Thanks for joining us for this week's prompt, and I hope you have/had a wonderful holiday so far!

Betty, Melody, Lynn and Shana

Friday, December 18, 2015

Week 3 - Learn to Journal in 4 Weeks

Here we are at the start of week #3 of our course, Learn to Journal in 4 Weeks.  You've met and exceeded the halfway point, so pat yourself on the back for a job well done!

"It's important for people to know what you stand for. It's equally important that they know what you won't stand for." -- Mary Waldrip

Standing up for what you believe in is an important quality to have in your life. Likewise, standing up for or standing up TO yourself with your innermost thoughts and emotions is a primary key to living an emotionally healthy life and lifestyle.  If you can't be honest with yourself, you're never going to be wholly honest with others or with your life or find your "true north," the compass of your world, your life.  This is one reason why I journal.  We all have secrets, concerns or issues we keep buried deep within ourselves, either to shield us from remembering pain or because we choose not to recall them.  But those issues are there.  Some of those issues comprise who you are today because we become the result of our life experiences.  Do you like who you've become as a result of your life experiences?  Yes? No?  If not, only you can make those changes. Addressing these concerns in your journal is a huge step in making those changes you want to see.

I recently discovered an amazing book by Rebecca Campbell called "Light is the New Black" A Guide Answering Your Soul's Callings and Answering Your Light, published by Hay House, and currently available at most major booksellers like Amazon and Barnes and Noble, and also available for Kindle readers. If you follow the permalink, you can read some excerpts from the book.   In Light is the New Black, Ms. Campbell talks about and helps guide you to that place in your life that is your TRUE NORTH, finding your compass, your true way in life.  If you are all about being a better you, and finding yourself, truly finding yourself, I recommend you get and read this book!   You may  have some serious life changing epiphanies while reading it or after reading it.   So far, as a result of reading this book, I have been journaling like crazy about the topics and revelations I am experiencing as a result of her discourse and musings.  I read the book all the way through the first time quite quickly and was really impacted by it. But now, I am re-reading, absorbing, thinking about and writing about all of it. 

Your journal writing should always reflect the real you. Not the face you put out there for the public to see. Real. Honest. Forthright. Compelling. Interesting.  All the descriptors, good or bad, that comprise the real you.  Always 'keep it real' with yourself. No kidding. No side-stepping, no excuses. This is how you turn just plain "writing" into positive journaling.  Whether you realize it or not, you are taking care of yourself.  You are filling up your vessel -- your soul, your spirit, your mind. You are caring about yourself!

As always, you don't have to respond to all of our prompts, or even take them in order, but we recommend you try and respond to each prompt if you can.  Or write about your day, what you are feeling or dealing with. It's your journal.  We are only providing sparks and ideas to keep you thinking and proactively engaged in your emotional and spiritual growth and development. And if you have a bunch of raw journaling you don't ever want anyone to see but you, remember you can always cover it up afterward with art, collaged images, and words.  But don't forget to leave a little hint or reminder on the page, whether a specific word, a hashtag on the corner of your page, or arted on top of your journaling.  You know it's there, and that's all that is necessary.

This week we are going to revisit your list from Day 11, do a little self-exploration, venture out to enhance your writing experience, and of course, a little creative writing.

To access this week's prompts, go HERE

Have a great week, and happy writing!



Saturday, December 12, 2015

Artful Journeys - Week #50 Art Prompt

Here we are, week #50 of a year-long art challenge.  Can you believe it?  This whole year has just seemed to fly by and now the sudden realization that there are only two, yes TWO very short weeks left of 2016.  I'm not finished with all the things I wanted to accomplish this year, in my art and in my daily life.  Are  you? 

A special request:  While we are all thinking about the impending Christmas holiday, food, shopping lists, gift buying, wrapping, parties and social events, excited children, frustrated shoppers, let's also remember to stop every single day, even if just for a moment to consider and give thanks for the many blessings in our lives.  Think of something you can do for someone who might not have enough food to eat, warm clothing to wear, no family to share the holiday with, or anything to give to their children for Christmas. Can you involve your children or grandchildren to help teach them the value of giving and volunteering?  Consider buying a gift for a deserving child on an angel tree, helping a homeless person get a hot meal, volunteering in a soup kitchen or homeless shelter, spending some time with someone who has no family, sharing some joy with someone, to help make their day a little brighter.  I have so many blessings and things to be thankful for in my life, and I LOVE paying forward my blessings and helping those in dire situations that need the help...and not just during the holidays... I do it throughout the year, and as a matter of course. Giving is a big part of my life.  Consider sharing your blessings the whole year through. You, and your life will be enriched by the experience. 

This week at Artful Journeys, we're thinking about winter. I particularly am jealous of those of you who live in climates where you see and get snow regularly.  Snow brings out a special kind of happiness for me, and fond, fond memories of my childhood and the rare snow events of my life, all of which I can almost clearly identify they have been so few.  What memories does snow evoke for you?  Do you hate it, love, it, go play in it?  So show us!


My spread this week reflects the fun memories from my childhood regarding snow and snow days. Here's a sneak peek, but to see the whole thing, hop on over to my blog, HERE

MELODY made this very pretty page, in her favorite "signature" color and left plenty of room for journaling about her winter days. I know she is hoping for snow too, but she still wants the schools to remain "open" for a quiet day at home!  One thing about Melody's journals, she likes "writing" on a painted page, and most of her backgrounds for writing are always so smooth and luscious.  I can't wait to see her writing around those snowflakes!

SHANA submits this vision of loveliness for your inspiration this week.  She says, " This was one of my 1st journal entries mixing acrylic paint and my Prismacolor pencils.  I used a stencil for the blue and white background and most of her hair is pattern paper showing through. For the snowflakes I used my white Faber Castel pitt pen on some stamps, along with the Pitt pens for the smudgy shadows."  Shana told me that she actually painted this journal page on her first winter without snow, when she first moved to the desert.  Being a Wisconsin cheese-head, (a title she proudly professes), Shana knows snow.  But alas, living in the low desert, she has to find a mountain or go home now to get any!  LOL 


Be inspired this week by winter.  Let the magic of "snow" get all in your head, and in your heart...even if you are living in a warm climate!  Maybe you can fancy up some palm trees covered in snow?  You'll never know until you try!  And don't forget to share at ARTFUL JOURNEYS!

Have a great week, and as always, keep it artful!
~~Betty, Melody, Shana & Lynn


Friday, December 11, 2015


We've arrived at week #2 of our beginning course on learning to journal in four weeks. How are you doing so far with getting in the habit of writing everyday, about something?  I see in Artful Writing that some of you may have already experienced some emotional turmoil about some of our first seven prompts.

                                              "Live in peace in a time of stress"

Quite frankly, I didn't expect that the first seven prompts would elicit such a response.  When I created them, they seemed benign enough.  I certainly realize that many people, including myself, did not have the happiest of childhoods, and I am not always willing or able to discuss some of these situations with myself on a given day.  Regardless of the specificity of any prompt, if the day's prompt is too painful for you to address this early on in your writing, perhaps let it spark something that isn't.  Look for a positive thought or memory within the prompt. Think about the prompt in a different way, or write about something entirely different on that day.  The prompts are just sparks and ideas intended to get you to think, and to write about your emotions, feelings and experiences.  Being real and honest with yourself, in a way that perhaps you have never done before, truly can be one of the most cathartic and healing experiences of your life. Today might not be that day for you, or even tomorrow.

If a prompt brings up painful or hurtful emotions in you, just write about how you feel at the moment.  You don't have to respond to the prompt directly.  Too often we allow conditioned responses from our past to control our present.  We can't help it.  It is human nature, I think, to want to avoid hurt and pain.  But realistically, without addressing hurt, pain, anger and all the black emotions we hold within us, we can't ever find the light, or the peace that dwells in all of us, or go to the sunny place where we are wholly content with ourselves, our lives and our futures.  At least talking openly and honestly with yourself in your journal, you're coming to grips with this turmoil on an adult level, with adult responses.  Sure, you may cry a river of tears when it all comes pouring out the end of your pen.  I love a good, healing cry myself. It helps me.  But if now is not the time, make a mental note to address how you feel right at that moment on another day.  There have been many nights when I have journaled about an emotional situation in my life, that I cried the entire time I was writing. But afterwards, my heart seemed healed somehow.  Maybe not fully or completely, but at least part of me came to grips with some of it.  And hopefully that day will arrive for you as well.

My best advice to you:  Just keep writing. Keep thinking. Keep exploring the real know, the one you know is inside you that you are secretly hiding and you're not letting her fully out in the open.  How can I improve my life?  How can this cleansing or purging of thoughts and emotions benefit me in the long run?  You will ultimately benefit emotionally and spiritually by addressing these deep and personal issues.  Everyday is not a big emotional day. We want you to just write, the good with the bad, along with lighthearted, creative writing that frees your spirit from the societal constraints that are placed upon us in our daily lives.  Hang in there if you're already having trouble. It gets easier, I promise.  Something just resonated within your soul. You poked a smoldering fire that has been simmering in there, likely for a long time.  It's not going to go away, but you can plan to address it later, when you're more prepared to handle it.  I and we, are always here to provide you with emotional support and encouragement when you need it. Never be afraid to ask for help. So far, the members of Artful Writing are showing their willingness to be supportive and offer encouraging words and some sage advice to those of you who are facing some difficulties.  Lean in. Listen. I believe encouragement and support from others is a viable and important tool in a healing arsenal.

I'm excited to present your prompts for this coming week.  This week, we're going to address how to explore a little more deeply within yourself, how to cut this into manageable chunks of thought process time through the aid of lists and brainstorming, and have a couple of more inane writing prompts, just to get you in the habit of writing.  You don't have to start at the first prompt, or even follow the prompts exactly, or at all. Just write.  But consider really responding to some of these prompts this week. 

As always, if you have some raw journaling from this week you don't ever want anyone to read or see, consider collage options or arting over the words, leaving something to peek out or remind you of the writing.  Keep clipping & putting powerful or emotional images into your "envelope" just for this purpose. Put a hashtag on the lower corner of your journal perhaps with a keyword. Consider magazine images that represent the emotions or feelings you had, or how the writing made you feel.  You could even art over this particular day's writing entirely, and feel safe that your private thoughts are secure.

Find this week's new prompts HERE.  Enjoy the journey.

Happy writing!


Saturday, December 5, 2015


Hi y'all!  Betty here again this week to bring you our prompt!  With the approaching holidays, we know most of you are busy shopping, decorating  your trees, your homes, your yards.  So of course you need a little holiday decoration in your art journals as well!

This week's prompt:  "AND THE STOCKINGS WERE HUNG..."

MELODY made this cute spread in her journal, with plenty of room to write about a favorite Christmas memory and says "This week's spread was pretty basic. It's been a tough week and no art has gotten done. I started in my small Dylusions journal with burnt umber and titanium white creating a wall and mantle to hang the stockings from. My stockings are by Jolee's Boutique and found them when I was hunting up some stickers to use in my journal for Christmas. Hope you like it."

SHANA sends along this sneak peek and a link to her video!  Follow through on the link to see the process and the finished spread HERE

That's it from our end of the world.  Lynn and I were unable to participate this week due to outside commitments.  Let this prompt challenge you to create a special memory, or recreate one.  Maybe add a special Christmas story as a tip in!

As always, keep it artful!

~~Betty, Melody, Lynn and Shana

Friday, December 4, 2015

ANNOUNCEMENT! Artful Writing!

We are pleased to announce the formation of a new sister group, ARTFUL WRITING where we will be providing you 365 days of writing prompts and ideas, hints, tips and tricks for successful journaling.

The group is now open for membership, so tell your friends.  The first official prompt will appear on December 31st and will be published daily for your writing inspiration.

For those of you who like to have a week's worth of prompts at one time, you may return here to the blog and locate the 2016 Artful Writing page to get all your weeks' prompts at one time, or visit the group page as part of your daily ritual.  We will also be including bonus prompts and ideas on the group page for writing as we go along.

If you are new to journaling, we are offering a free, 4-week course on beginning journaling that will start tomorrow evening, December 5th.  To get started, first visit and review the Introduction so that you are prepared and ready to begin.  Come back here to the blog, and look for the page tab on the left side of the blog: LEARN TO JOURNAL IN 4 WEEKS. You can start the free course HERE

You never have to follow along with the prompts and are always free to write about whatever your heart desires. Our daily prompts are designed to spark an idea or to make you dig deep and really be honest with yourself so that you can begin to renew your mind, body and spirit in this coming year.  If you can't be honest with and about yourself in your journal, where can you?

We will never ask you to share your personal journaling with us. That's definitely private.  But you are encouraged to ask questions about your journaling, writing in general, offer up your ideas and suggestions; talk about your favorite journals and writing instruments and any subject relating to writing in Artful Writing!  We might ask you to show us a photograph of your writing journal, or create a visual art journal page about your week's journaling that you can share in Artful Writing or in Artful Journeys, or both!  Writing is just another creative outlet, one that can and will be healing, helpful to you and renew your outlook and spirit as you explore your emotions, feelings, relationships, past history and everything in between.

Come join us on this artful, writing adventure. 

~Betty Richardson

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Artful Journeys - POP UP #27

Betty here, bringing you our Pop-Up this week. Guess what day it is?????  Last day of the month (already?) and time for another POP-UP art challenge for your journal. 

Yes, it is time for you to make a gorgeous, beautiful and delightful DECEMBER CALENDAR using holiday colors (if you so choose--or not).  This will be your last calendar, and I promise we won't do them next year.  Seems like I am the only one on the admin team who really likes having them in my journal, but they are a great "marker" to know when you did something if you don't date your journal work like I do.  I will do them next year, as I have done every year since I started journaling, but we won't have them as a prompt!

LYNN made this beauty... Isn't it pretty?  Here's what she had to say: "I got lucky today and got this piece of deli paper that Betty made with the gelli plate and I loved it so much I wanted to use it for the background for the calendar. Just punched out a bunch of circles and added birthdays that I have this month."  

MELODY made this super cute calendar in her usual cheerful style!  "For my calendar I started with tube acrylics in red and white to create the background, then punched circles out of scrapbook papers from my Christmas collection and glued them all down. I added some stickers for the month and a little somethin' extra. Thanks for looking!"

BETTY - My page this month is full of wintry and holiday cheer.  Background was prepared with acrylics in red and white, applied with a brayer, then some circles stamped with leftover paint.  I punched out the date squares out of holiday scrapbooking paper, added the dates and snowflakes with Posca markers, then the embellishments. Sadly, I got the "December" that was stamped with Stampin' Up's Alphabet Attitude stamps a little bit high, but oh well!  

SHANA says: As you know I do not enjoy doing Calender's! there is too much planning do do, spacing for the days of the weeks and making sure you have the right amount of days in the month... so since I was just going with it I decided to use what I had to go with the red and green theme, I had a background that I had just made using red and green with a brayer some time ago and started with that. I had a piece of watercolor paper that got ripped so I trimmed it down and laid down some green gelatos for a border then wet the whole piece down, I then sprayed with Dylusions in red. for the days I had some copy paper that I just did random sprays of the dylusions. I glued them all down and uses my sharpie paint pens to number them and add the month at the top. I actually like how it turned out with the mash of red and greens with no real shape, and I got to get my hands full of color! big hugs!

Did we motivate or inspire you?  Can't wait to see your calendars!  Be sure and share them with us at ARTFUL JOURNEYS!


~~Betty, Melody, Lynn and Shana