All On Board the Train!


Wouldn’t you know we’re riding on the Marrakesh Express
Wouldn’t you know we’re riding on the Marrakesh Express
They’re taking me to Marrakesh
All on board the train, all on board the train
All on board – Graham Nash

We are in a cycle of dark dreary days filled with rain and humidity. Not the most advantageous to inspire creativity on these late Spring days. I needed an escape!  I wanted the sun! I wanted warmth! I wanted exotic locations! With a bit of imagination and the best tools at my disposal I magically escaped the monotonous and travelled into a world of colour and exploration.

Opening the box from Artistcellar that arrived at my door was like grabbing my passport and getting on board to an exciting journey! Included with the supplies was the CHRIS COZEN – PLAYFUL PODS SERIES stencils. As with all the Artistcellar stencils, they are made to last and perform perfectly with a variety of media. Clean up is quick and easy, leaving the stencil in like-new condition. Lately I have heard a lot about the use of Rubber Cement. It seems to be the “go to” everyone is discussing…from Google+ Communities to Workshop details that land in my Inbox.

I selected the Bodacious Pods stencil from the series. They reminded me so much of Moroccan pouffes…the lovely Ottoman footstools that take lounging to the pinnacle of relaxation.  In my collection is an exquisite image of Sir Francis Bernard Dicksee’s “Leila”, which I purchased on a Digital Collage Sheet. The woman, painted in the Oriental style, at last found a home.

My idea was to give the art a rough, almost sun worn finish similar to the buildings I photographed in Marrakesh. I chose a heavy watercolour paper for the substrate.  I dabbed the rubber cement through the stencil with my fingers…varying the amount from thick to thin, hoping this application would produce a mottled effect when covered with paint.

The rubber cement dried relatively quickly, even for impatient me. As an impulse buy, I recently purchased  pearlescent watercolours. I go weak in the knees for anything with a shimmer, and the selection of colours looked scrumptious. I covered the paper with a wash. I chose all the gorgeous Bohemian colours available on my pallet: Hot Pink, Vermilion Orange, Cyan Blue, Turquoise and Bright Violet! I blended the colours using a tool new to me… The SAKURA KOI WATERBRUSH. If you haven’t tried it you must! The brush is made of flexible nylon fibers that are fed with water from a refillable reservoir. When I was finished blending, the paper was once again set out to dry.

With my fingers and an eraser I removed the rubber cement. The result was as I had hoped…patchy, worn, sun-kissed, with a dazzling shimmer…just as I remember my travels in Morocco.  It would be the perfect home for Leila. I scanned the altered paper and revised the image of the woman. I wanted to keep as much of the paper without further alteration, so I only added Graham Nash’s lyrics…the inspiration for the piece…surrounding her.

Art, I am sure you will agree, can take us to the places as far and as wide as our imagination. With the proper tools at our fingertips we can re-experience the wonders of travels past. Or we can dream of places we’ve yet to see. Either way, won’t you join me? All on board the train, all on board the train!



Your Story Lives Across The Stars


The Self Is Born in the Stars – Carl Jung

I’ve always been interested in Tarot. The cards intrigue me…not so much as a tool for fortune-telling, but more of a way of discovering what is happening in the present and how it can shape the future. I am by no means an experienced reader. But I do find comfort in handling the cards and finding my part of the story of the symbols.

As with many of us, my life has been quite hectic of late. And I find time seems to be moving at an accelerated rate.  I’ve been told that life gives you what you need if you are receptive. And what I need is time to stop and reflect.

Looking through my collection of Tarot cards, I was drawn to The Star card. Stars are visible in the Universe because of the cradle of darkness. So too, we shine when we have been through a difficult time and come through with strength and faith in ourselves.  I decided to use the card as the basis for my work using the Artistcellar stencils.

The Star Card is aligned to the Crown Chakra. I started the collage using Prismacolor pencils on rough drawing paper and the Crown Chakra stencil. When finished I built the collage around the stencil drawing. The vintage images of the Marseilles Tarot, the palmistry hand, and the night sky fell into place.

I can’t get away from the Mineral paper. It is wonderfully adaptable to any media. My acrylic paint using the Halftone Dots stencils stayed as vibrant dried as they did wet. The Pearlescent Liquid Acrylic kept their incredible shimmer, which is sometimes lost on other substrates. If you haven’t tried this paper…you must! The results are delicious!

It has been a brilliant education getting familiar with all the products Artistcellar has on offer. I have tried techniques that are new to me, and hopefully will stir your interest as well.  This brings me back to The Star card.

The card is one of personal transformation, new ideas, and opportunities. The thirst for new journeys can be of a physical or spiritual nature.  But above all The Star encourages you to have faith and believe in yourself.

And what better way to be true to yourself than to write your own story across the sky?


Artistcellar Halftone Dots Series Stencils

Artistcellar Stencils: Pocket Stencils – CHAKRAS – Crown

Hand cut stencils

Mineral Paper

Vintage Images Tarot Card, Palmistry

Drawing paper

Prismacolor Coloured Pencils

The Best Things In Life!


Lovelier than a thousand kisses,

Smoother than muscatel wine.

Coffee, I must have coffee,

And if anyone wants to give me a treat,

Ah! just give me some coffee!

The Coffee Cantata J.S. Bach

Coffee. Or as we say where I come from, “cawffee” is more than just a morning ritual. Its intoxicating scent eases you into the start of the day. Rich and bold, it is a relaxing conclusion to the evening. It warms you up on a cold day or cools you down in a variety of disguises from iced to ice cream. It’s an excuse to meet and share time with friends. No matter how or where it is served, I love it!

Working on my next collage using the wonderful Artistcellar Halftone Dots stencils I moved on to my next new love: Mineral Paper. Sleek and smooth, made from rocks, I couldn’t wait to try it out with a variety of media. It took the acrylic paint I stenciled on like a dream. No buckling or wrinkling. I was left with a wonderfully smooth, flat surface.

But would the mineral paper hold up to something a more liquid? I reached for my ever-present cup of coffee. I covered the sheet with a general wash. While drying, I sprinkled on both wet grounds and instant granules. The page performed just as described by the Yasutomo Company. No bending. No warping. Just a flat surface – as pristine as when removed from the pack.

I loved the way the paper responds to wet media, but I wanted to try just one more effect. When dry I spritzed the sheet in several areas with my spray water bottle. The mottled look was just what I was after. Again, when dry the Mineral Paper remained flat, smooth and ready to be scanned.

Of late I’ve been in a ‘50’s kind of mindset. I decided to add the image of the surprised woman. But what could she be thinking? Did she just make a fantastic discovery? Of course! It has to be the best things in life.  And what could be better than a reassuring rotation of Art, Sleep and our Daily Brew? Who wants to join me?

Is A Letter A Work of Art?

THE ARTISTSIt is no secret that I am passionate about letters…good old fashioned stick a stamp on the envelope letters. Don’t get me wrong. Texts and emails have their place, especially in business. We can be in touch quickly, and hopefully efficiently, with our newest form of common communication. But there is a special romance of anticipation when dropping a letter into a mailbox. And who can dispute the great joy felt when receiving a little part of someone’s day, set aside especially for you.

It was when I read the 1876 quote from the book How To Write Letters, by J. Willis Westlake, that my heart skipped a beat:

“A letter should be regarded not merely as a medium for the communication of intelligence, but also as a work of art.”

Finding this quote dovetailed flawlessly into reading a letter sent by artist Frida Kahlo to Georgia O’Keeffe. Frida reached out with compassion to Georgia when she suffered with a nervous breakdown. The letter was not only the thoughtful gesture of a friend, but the meeting of two supportive inspired artists.

The May Lunagirl Moonbeam challenge is Mother’s and Sisters in the most encompassing sense. The images to choose from were lovely. I decided to use two women from the “Just Us Girls” sheet. Behind the women you can read Frida’s letter to Georgia. I finished to collage with a selection of flowers, which always speak to me of happiness and generosity.

On this Mother’s Day I hope you will reach out to those women who support your creative spirit with tender affection. Strong women support each other. Flood your letters with the art of your heart.

Simply Be…………..

JUST SIMPLY BEI saw my first crocus a few days ago. The thin green striped shoots pushing through the earth was a joyful sight. Although we had a relatively benign winter, seeing the crocus renewed my trust in the natural energy of the seasons. It is wonderful to just simply be.

Inspired by the Artistcellar Pocket Stencils I chose to work with the Crown stencil from the Chakras series. The Crown Chakra is the center of consciousness and spiritual awakening. It is the place where we connect not only with our deepest self, but with our higher power and are able to appreciate the bigger picture of life. When our Crown chakra is open we are filled with trust, faith and devotion. Inspiration has a place to ripen. We are mindful.

Like most collage artists, I have an envelope of bits and pieces…torn paper, postcards, tissue paper and the like. Working intuitively, I pulled out whatever came to hand and started gluing the papers to my illustration board substrate using matte medium. I worked quickly and allowed the shape and colour of the papers to find their own space on the board.

Once dried, I sponged on a selection of metallic acrylic paints. I chose several shades of violet acrylic for the Crown stencil, the colour related to this chakra.

I love the Pocket Stencils series. The size is perfect and I always find just what I need to enhance my work. Creating this collage was no exception. There it was, the word “trust”. It is the embodiment of the chakra. Using Lapis Blue Dina  Acrylics, I sponged the word on a piece of gold tissue paper. As with all Artistcellar products, clean-up is quick leaving the stencil in pristine condition, allowing me to focus on creating new work.

Faith and trust frees our spirit. We move in harmony with the wisdom of the universe. Once we find our mindful, quiet space inspiration is unrestricted. And we can simply be.


Materials Used:

Assorted papers: newsprint, Russian passport, Tissue, Magazine paper, Wax infused paper, Citra Solv paper, postcard, tea stained wax infused paper, coffee stained paper, library card

Artistcellar Stencils: Pocket Stencils – CHAKRAS – Crown; TRUST & SEEK stencil

Hand cut Stencils

Liquitex: Matte Medium

Deco Art Metallic Acrylics: Splendid Gold, Berry

Plaid Metallic Acrylics: Amethyst, Plumb, Blue Topaz, Champagne, Aquamarine

Dina Wakely Acrylics: Lapis Blue

Daler Rowney Pearlescent Liquid Acrylic: Moon Violet, Waterfall Green, Galactic Blue, Velvet Violet

Finding Your Circle of Stars


We came whirling
 out of nothingness
scattering stars like dust.
The stars made a circle
and in the middle
we dance.
 A fragment of a Rumi poem came to mind when the Artistcellar Sacred Geometry 2 stencils arrived in the mail. I couldn’t wait to open the packet and spread them out on my work table

The concept of Sacred Geometry is intriguing. Its principles unite patterns and proportion in the spiritual and natural world. Although I am just a novice, for me every day is a new discovery of how the sacred symbols bring order to our world. The unite us. They help us to see what we have in common…the feelings and hopes we all share. They help us to understand the world around us and within us.

Every stencil in the new collection is lovely but my eye kept coming back to “The Seed of Life”. The Seed of Life is about the magic and mystery of creativity. The seven circles, who some feel represent the seven days of creation, interlace. It is this pattern that forms the Flower of Life, one that decorates religious buildings and art throughout history.

Could it be this time of year, just on the cusp of Spring with daylight stating to push back the night? Could it be the fact that the new stencil series is beginning to help artists expand their creativity? Could it be the fact that I have always been inspired by circular designs? For all of these reasons, and more, I followed my Muse and began to work.

Sunflowers always remind me of the Rumi poem…scattering stars…or seeds…in a circle. The majestic flowers follow the sun by turning their heads throughout the day. The way in which they seek the nourishment they need and their beautiful golden-yellow petals, never fail to inspire me with hope and belief in the future.

With my materials at hand, I started the work. Heavy watercolour paper is the substrate for my collage. I sponged the background with a variety of metallic acrylic paints and sprayed it with Glimmer Mist. The stencil was added next using gold metallic acrylics. I added torn handmade paper and fragments from a Math book. Using an Artistcellar Pocket Stencil, I sponged on the word “SEEK” in Lapis blue.  Next followed the sunflower and dried hydrangea petals. The collage was completed with additional stenciling.

So in the end, we are all seekers. By whatever method we arrive at our own spiritual truth, one thing is certain. We all aspire to dance in joy. And may you find your own circle of stars.

The Mystery & Magic Surrounding You


Clandestine. Surreptitious. Hush-hush. Cloak-and-dagger. Mysterious. Secret. The words…and the feeling connected with them… encircled me when looking through the Gecko Galz Pretty Portraits collage sheets.  There she was. Right in the middle of the sheet…the beautiful woman in a turban.

Who could she be? I imagined a magician’s “lovely assistant”. I adore the art of magic. The oddities are so wondrous they draw you into a web of mystery. Sleight of hand to palatial stage shows, I am totally intrigued. And to me, the world of magic and mystery is summed up in one name: Houdini. Harry created his own reality which he shared with his audiences. He was a seeker, always looking for the next illusion, the next sensational escape.

The central image of my digital work is from the Gecko Galz Pretty Portraits collage sheet. The starry background is from their Moonbeams 2 sheet. The image of the Moon is from my collection.

Working on the image allowed me to realise that we are all part of the magic that surrounds us. As artists we seek, and we create a world filled with wonders. All we need is our lovely assistant called Creativity.

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