Portrait Drawing at SAIC

In May and June, I had the chance to take a portrait drawing class at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago - (my photo is even part of the rotating carousel up top!) I've taken several of their continuing studies classes over the last year, and it's really helped me make some good progress with my drawing skills.

I missed the last day of class - I was in Williamsburg with my family, and since that class was the critique, I thought I'd do my own online critique.

FYI, for this class, the teacher didn't use any kind of face mapping - it was all about drawing strictly from observation and relative placement (she said that face mapping tends to lead to faces that look stylized - I hadn't thought about it, but I guess that's true! Not that I still won't be using it as a tool from time to time.) So for this class, no face mapping!

In chronological order, here are seven photos of some of my work throughout the five weeks.

First: charcoal on regular drawing paper, 10-minute pose. My critique: not bad for a first week - I did okay with the angle, gestures could use a little work, but overall okay.

Portrait Drawing 1 - Gwen LafleurSecond: Charcoal on Rives BFK, 5-15 minute poses, focus on gesture and value drawing. Critique: already better than last week. Focusing on values really helped me get a better grip on defining features and getting it to look right.

Portrait Drawing 2 - Gwen LafleurThird: graphite on Rives BFK, 10-15 minute poses, emphasis on mark making. Critique: one of my favorite pieces of work from the class. Fun technique, I really started getting the hang of it, continued improvement, and it looked like the model!

Portrait Drawing 3 - Gwen LafleurFourth: charcoal on Rives BFK, 10 minute poses, focus on gesture, line, value (this week the model didn't show up so we all took turns posing. These are of another student and the professor.) Critique: the one on the left especially shows continued improvement (looked almost just like her!) In the second one, also a good resemblance, and I got the feeling of the gesture, even if the hair needs serious work.

Portrait Drawing 4 - Gwen LafleurFifth: Charcoal on Rives BFK, 15-20 minute pose(?) Critique: proportions still need a bit of work, but the eyes came out pretty well.

Portrait Drawing 5 - Gwen LafleurSixth: charcoal and hard pastels on Rives BFK - 50 minute pose. Critique: huge improvement! I think the shading and proportions are all good, eye and ear especially came out well.

Portrait Drawing 6 - Gwen LafleurSeventh: soft pastels on Rives BFK, 50 minute pose (and yes, he was laying down.) Critique: the professor gave me a 5 minute demo on pastels, and I (she agreed) did a pretty darn good job of following the instruction. This was all done by using colors to build up values and definition - almost no line. I think proportion, features, shading all came out great.

Portrait Drawing 7 - Gwen LafleurAll in all, good class. It pushed me, and it was not always comfortable or fun (I hate blind contour drawing! We did at least 5 of them every night.)

Pros of the class: it forced me to practice and do things I wouldn't do on my own and go outside of my comfort zone. I got to work with live models, and of course the benefit of a professional artist helping give you pointers is a good thing.

Cons: Two nights a week (3 hour sessions) after work for 5 weeks was too much! I don't know if I'll do that again. Not any time soon, at least.

So there you go! And now it's time for me to try and finish one of the multiple online classes I'm enrolled in :-P


A peek inside my sketchbook | Sketchbook Skool part 2

Just popping in with a quick post... things got crazy (again!) but I finally have a little time to start getting back to normal. I hope! Probably for just long enough to enjoy it before I get bored again. lol.

So, last week was my final figure drawing class, and it went really well! I have a few things I might be able to post, but also a few class projects that I'd like to finish up now that I have a bit more free time. So hopefully I can share something soon.

Also finishing up in the last week was my first semester of Sketchbook Skool... the Beginnings course. I gave a summary of the first 3 weeks of class a few posts ago, so I thought I'd share the rest of my class work now that we're done.

The 4th class was with Jane LaFazio - we brought in watercolors and used them with some of the things she does in sketching which was really fun. Here's my homework from that class:

IMG_3624I actually cooked that week! Those tomatoes became panzanella a few hours later.

Next was a week with Roz Stendahl. She was fascinating... she gave us so much information and so many examples! It really changed some of my views on keeping a sketchbook and was very different from the other instructors. First, we had an unofficial assignment to draw our sketch kit. Mine varies, but these are the basics. Sometimes I carry watercolors. (This ended up being a great warm-up for my last class!)

IMG_3722aAnd then my homework for the class - sketching animals. We started with a toy or something inanimate - I used a carved wooden elephant. We started with warmup exercises and then moved on to a more finished sketch.

IMG_3679
IMG_3679Then our second homework assignment was live animals. Short of going outside and trying to chase down some pigeons, I didn't have easy access to anything during the time I had for sketching, so I used the Monterey Bay Aquarium live webcams.

IMG_3691

IMG_3693My last class was with Tommy Kane - I'm a big fan of his work, and I'm super excited for my copy of his new book to be delivered. He had some great videos and demos, and the homework was fairly long and involved, but I really enjoyed it and love the results! (Plus, he commented on my homework that it was awesome and worthy of being a professional illustration in any magazine. Probably a bit of teacher hyperbole, but I'll take it!)

We had to draw our kitchens - we were supposed to be super detailed, looking for details within details, and it was supposed to take us around 4 hours or more. I did it in about 3 hours and 15 minutes or so (including color,) but I just felt like it was done. Here's the initial sketch before I added color:

IMG_3721And the final with watercolor and colored pencil:

IMG_3724And that's it! Sadly, I'm not sketching every day, but I'm still doing something creative every day and sketching has now become part of my list of things that I turn to, and I definitely do it a lot more than I have before! So I'll keep practicing. And, they're in production for a new klass that should be announced in a few weeks, so I'm excited to see what's coming next!


A peek inside my sketchbook | Sketchbook Skool

I've mentioned before that I'm taking an online "kourse" from Sketchbook Skool, and now that the semester is half over, I thought I'd share some of my work from the first half of the kourse. I'm taking the "Beginnings" klass, which has been pretty good so far. If nothing else, it's gotten me to pick up my sketchbook a few days a week. I try to do something creative every day so even if I don't sketch I'm doing something, but since I want to build my drawing skills I really wanted to do more, and now I am! If anyone is interested, I'm using a Fabriano "Venice" sketchbook that I got with a coupon at Michael's. The pages are nice and thick with a bit of tooth, so they hold up to watercolor if I want but also for colored pencils and pen or pencil sketching and it's easy to carry around.

The first klass was taught by Danny Gregory, and we had two homework assignments. One using specific techniques and then sketching something meaningful to us. I drew my new ring that I got shopping with my mom on the wharf in Monterey.

Sketchbook - p1The second was to sketch something every day of the week... and I sketched something for every day of the week, but since I was in Monterey when the klass started I got a bit behind but caught up before the first week was over.

Sketchbook - pp2-3Lesson 2 was taught by Koosje Koene and we learned about drawing an object by layering with colored pencils (I drew Ranier cherries) and also going out and drawing in public (I went to Millennium Park after work last week, which took much more effort on my part than I originally wanted to put in, but it ended up being a relaxing, beautiful, and fun evening.) You can see another sketch I did in here of my awesome new Uppercase magazines.

Sketchbook - pp6-7and here you can see the scene / angle I was looking at as I drew "the bean":

Sketchbook Skool Beginnings Lesson 2 - Drawing Outside - Gwen LafleurThis current week (new weeks start on Fridays) has been taught by Prashant Miranda and we learned more about seeing the colors in our surroundings, and taking note of the little things going on in our lives every day. Also using watercolors. So during lunch I did a quick sketch of what was on my desk - it was a good snapshot of what I was doing at work. Then I worked on watercolor washes and sketching by doing a scene through the window of my house. I did the watercolor first and added a bit of ink on top.

Sketchbook - pp8-9-webSo that's it so far... I'm caught up on my koursework, and waiting for the next lesson to start on Friday.

I also have a few other sketches... some random ones that I drew a week ago in my living room while I was trying to practice perspective... I need more practice. lol.

Sketchbook - pp4-5-web
And this one I did in my other sketchbook from my SAIC class while I was in Monterey for the 4th - it's of one of my favorite staircases down from the road to Asilomar State Beach:

Sketchbook - Asilomar BeachPerspective still needs work, but I'm getting better.

In the meantime, the 2nd half of Sketchbook Skool awaits, and this Saturday is my 3rd week of my Beginning Figure Drawing class at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. The first week was intro, slides, supplies, and some basic introductory techniques which involved lots of stick figures while we worked on visualizing the positioning of the models' spines, shoulders, etc... it was one of those frustrating things that you don't really enjoy, but you know you need to suck it up because it's going to make it so you get so much better than you would otherwise be. So I sucked it up. Last week we were able to move forward a lot and I saw so much progress in 2 weeks! Here's a peek from after the first session finished:

IMG_3580We're saving work from each week to put together a portfolio for critique on the last day of class. I may or may not share some... we'll see. Since it's figure drawing I want to be careful about what I post since my 6-year old niece frequently sees my blog over her mom's shoulder :) But I'll maybe share a bit if I have some that will be okay. But I'm super excited to be seeing success, and I think it will help my overall drawing skills.

So with that, I'm off! It was an early day at work today (although not nearly as early as some!) and I'm beat!


Artist & the Sketchbook Class at SAIC

(If you're looking for the StencilGirl blog hop, scroll down to the next post!)

You may have seen a few photos on Instagram / Facebook from the class I've been taking... I was in Drawing: The Artist & the Sketchbook at the School for the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC.) They have a really good continuing studies program and I happened to find out about this class and was able to sign up the day before it started. It was a 5 week course, 9am-4pm on Saturdays. My professor was leaving for Korea before the end of the class, so we had a make-up session last week and we'll do a follow-up in August to share our work from the summer. I can't believe it's already over, but it was such a great class and I'm so glad I jumped in and took it!

Our first week, we had a great demo on basic bookmaking along with a really good lecture about paper. Then we went to Blick as a class to buy the paper we needed for our books and came back to make them. After we made our books, we had a great intro lecture to how some of the great artists of the past used sketchbooks as a part of their process and looked at different samples. It was so cool!

Artist and Sketchbook - Handmade Sketchbook - Gwen LafleurThe second week we started out with a watercolor demo and then went across the street to the Lurie Garden at Millenium Park to do some plein air sketching. I wandered around a bit taking photos, and then went across a small hill and was suddenly struck by the most stunning view! One of the volunteers at the garden stopped to chat with me about what they had done - it was landscaped as part of a contest. So beautiful! Especially with that fantastic skyline in the back. This is the view I settled in to try and capture.

Artist and Sketchbook - Garden and SkylineEmphasis on try. Surely you can't tell that this is my first attempt at this kind of watercolor sketching?

Artist and Sketchbook - Sketchbook page 1 - Gwen LafleurIt kind of sucks, but I learned a lot by doing it, and that's what matters! Just turn the page... I did a couple of pencil sketches that turned out better, I think.

Artist and Sketchbook - Sketchbook page 2 - Gwen LafleurI also got a few pictures in other parts of the garden. They had these gorgeous white anenomies all over the place and I loved them! I took this picture while under great personal danger from an extremely angry bird who apparently had a nest nearby. All was well, though... I got my picture (because I obviously wasn't going to sit there to sketch!) and backed off and we made peace. Or at least he didn't chase me. lol.

Artist and Sketchbook - AnenomiesAnd see? I did learn something from that first disaster sketch... practice makes better. It's not a blob. Yay!

Artist and Sketchbook - Sketchbook page 3 - Gwen LafleurWeek three was about primitivism and its impact on modern artists, especially Picasso. We had a great lecture and then went over to the museum where we went through a bunch of the works in the Modern wing (really fascinating lecture!) and then our teacher took us to the Native / Meso-American and African displays for us to sketch (African art had a huge impact on Picasso and others at that time, which makes total sense now that I know that.) I also went to the nearby Asian galleries and sketched Vishnu and Buddha before going back and sketching a bunch of African statues and masks.

Artist and Sketchbook - Sketchbook page 4 - Gwen Lafleur
Artist and Sketchbook - Sketchbook page 4 - Gwen Lafleur
Artist and Sketchbook - Sketchbook page 4 - Gwen Lafleur
Artist and Sketchbook - Sketchbook page 4 - Gwen LafleurBoth sketching days, the teacher would come around and find us and look at what we were doing and offer suggestions. It wasn't a drawing technique class, but we got a lot of tips and I saw improvement even in just a few sessions.

The last two classes were all about learning to use our sketchbooks as springboards for larger works (like so many others - I love Delacroix's sketchbooks!) He had challenged us to think of taking the different things we'd done and using inspiration to take something we'd sketched in class and turn it into something bigger. I had been really impressed by several of Picasso's works, but I also loved the sketch I'd done of an African headdress (2 photos up.) Below is a photo of the actual headdress:

Artist and Sketchbook - African HeaddressI decided I wanted to try and blend this with Picasso, and the teacher gave me a little guidance on how I might try and take it further than I'd originally planned. Here's the Picasso I was using as inspiration - It's called Still Life, February 4, 1922.

Artist and Sketchbook - Picasso Still Life

You can totally see why I thought they went together, right? lol.

So I did an initial sketch on the brown paper on the table and got super excited about it. Then I did a first iteration (we were encouraged to do multiples of the same thing in a row for practice and progress.)

Artist and Sketchbook - Final Project 2 - Gwen LafleurI absolutely loved my original sketch (obviously, since I cut it out and kept it!) But I was trying too hard on the first "real" attempt... trying to match Picasso's lines using pen and ink instead of a brush. I was also sloppy in my background and it was too bold without reason. But it was a fabulous learning experience. I started a second one and the teacher was pretty psyched about what I was doing at the end of that class. I picked it up again in the last class and then quickly moved to a 3rd version after talking to him and identifying what I loved about my sketch and didn't like about my first two versions.

Artist and Sketchbook - Final Project 3 - Gwen LafleurI took his guidance and applied pretty much all of it, adding touches that kind of called out to me. Here you can kind of see the whole progression:

Artist and Sketchbook - Final Project 1 - Gwen LafleurShape, lines, color... I learned so much from this process!

Artist and Sketchbook - Final Project - Gwen LafleurAll of the work on my final project was just done with acrylic ink. Some I used undiluted, some was diulted with water, some was mixed with Golden acrylic glazing liquid to get a glaze.

Anyway, I'll definitely keep working in my sketchbook! I'm signed up to start Sketchbook Skool in July, and also registered for another class at SAIC - Beginning Drawing, also starting in July. I can kind of draw, but I have no formal foundation aside from exercises I've done from books and infrequent attempts at drawing stuff, so I really want to go back and start filling in some of those gaps so I can get better.

Anyway, this class was awesome - I learned a lot, and it really opened my mind and took me out of my comfort zone. I can't wait to keep going with new classes! How lucky am I to have pretty much the best art school in the country right here? Along with one of the best museums in the country? And I've already been to two art festivals this summer. I have to say, I'm liking living in Chicago so far! (Of course, I haven't been here during a whole winter yet. Let's talk again in March. lol.)


More peeks into my Moleskine

A few more pages I've done in my Moleskine over the last few weeks... the first one is a page of mandalas / zendalas. Still on a kick with these!

IMG_2950And this one is done based on a card I saw while I was browsing in Barnes and Noble between LDS General Conference sessions on Saturday... it was a peacock card, so you know I noticed it! I was in Chicago so I did this in my hotel room while listening to Sunday conference. This one is pen, Inktense pencils, and Tombow markers.

IMG_2967This last one is a stendoodle - I traced a stencil - the 6x6 Rose Window stencil from The Crafter's Workshop, and then tangled in the openings. I really liked this one.

IMG_2998

I've been working in my art journal this week, enjoying the last days of having my full studio before I have to start packing it up! I'll post more of that soon.


2 Classes with Joanne Sharpe

Last weekend I got the chance to go up to Right at Home Scrapbooking in MA to spend a day taking classes from Joanne Sharpe. I had gotten to take a class from her a few months ago up at Absolutely Everything - I took Decorative Doodling, but the rest of her classes had already sold out by the time I found out about it. So when I saw that the classes I'd wanted to take and missed were being offered, I jumped at the chance to go!

First class of the day - Watercolor Whimsy. We played with watercolors of all kinds - a pan palette, Peerless watercolors (which I'd seen but never used before - they're super cool), markers, watercolor pencils, etc... and learned lots of different techniques for using them with doodles, journals, sketching, etc... We started out with a sampler where we tried eight different watercolor mediums and learned the technique for applying them, then we moved on to a "master" project where we doodled 8 different pictures and then used the mediums and techniques to color them. I ended up finishing most of this at home that night while watching the LDS Women's Broadcast.

Watercolor Whimsy with Joanne Sharpe 1 Watercolor Whimsy with Joanne Sharpe 2

Watercolor Whimsy with Joanne Sharpe 3
Watercolor Whimsy with Joanne Sharpe 3
Watercolor Whimsy with Joanne Sharpe 3
Watercolor Whimsy with Joanne Sharpe 3On the back side, we were supposed to do a palette or series of samples using the same doodle with different colors. I started mine, but haven't finished yet. I'll get back to it at some point.

Watercolor Whimsy with Joanne Sharpe 3
It was fun to get out of my comfort zone and do something so loose and whimsical!

The afternoon class was called Power Pens (or something similar) and was all about... pens! We used our notebooks and went through and practiced 20 techniques / ideas with various pens. It was meant to serve as a reference guide - I always like that kind of thing since it helps me remember what I've learned.

Power Pens with Joanne Sharpe 1
Power Pens with Joanne Sharpe 1And a little mid-process shot during class...

Power Pens with Joanne SharpeAnd the finished version of that page:

Power Pens with Joanne Sharpe 3
Power Pens with Joanne Sharpe 3I actually finished all 20 techniques in class... 'cause I'm a nerd like that ;) I learned quite a few new tricks and had fun trying out new supplies and finding new ways to use supplies I already own.

Me with Joanne SharpeIt was a long day that started early with a long drive, but it was worth it. I had a good time and learned a ton! Not to mention getting an autographed copy of Joanne's new book ;)

I kind of took a lot of classes in March, huh? April's going to slow down a bit while I take care of some details on the Next Big Thing... lol. But I'm already eyeballing some of the classes at the Create event in August. I've picked out the classes I want, now I'm just hoping they're still available when the budget comes through! I'll just have to take it as it comes, right? It's all good :)


Put a bird on it.

I've always like birds, as evidenced by some of my recent projects. And since I'm behind in my posting once again, I've got several things to post at once.

First up: an 8x10 canvas board that I painted after being inspired by some Papyrus greeting cards my sister bought... she and my mom both thought they looked like the stuff I do, so I thought it would be fun to do my own version. It's mixed media - some molding paste, lots of acrylic paint and Montana pens, and some phrase stickers tucked in there on the side. It's not my favorite project ever, but it's a ton better than what I had on that canvas before!

Bird on a Branch Mixed Media - Gwen Lafleur

Next up, a tangle that I did while I was in Chicago last week - I worked on it in my hotel room in the evenings after I got back from whatever I was doing that night (dinner with friends or a Christmas market! So fun... COLD!!! but fun.) Using my Faber Castell brush pens.

Colored Swirls Zentangle - Gwen Lafleur

Then, back to painting... our family took turns doing 25 days of Christmas for my Grandma K. with each of us sending her something along with a memory every day until Christmas. For my day, I did a pen and watercolor painting for her that I attached to a card. She loves birds (I think it's a genetic trait) and they always make me think of her. I drew this one based on a stamp I'd seen online using Micron pens and then filled in with my Angora watercolors.

Christmas Birds Pen Sketch - Gwen Lafleur
Christmas Birds Pen Sketch - Gwen Lafleur

Finally, another tangle. I drew this one during church on Sunday and then colored it while watching a hockey game. Again with the Faber Castell brush pens.

Hanging Tangles - Gwen Lafleur

I have been working on my December Daily and I'm actually not too far behind considering being out of town. I need to add a lot of journaling, so I'll probably finish it up and photograph and post it after Christmas. It's just not going to happen before then, but I'm okay with that.

Anyway... that's it! I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas!


Recent Paintings / Art Journaling

I haven't had a lot of time to do a whole lot lately, but I do have one canvas and several art journal pages I've never gotten around to sharing, as well as a few pages that I've finished recently.

First, a canvas that I did in the first half of October - another one redoing the old ones that I had. In this case I kept the original background but repainted the design with better paint so that it looks nicer, then added the flowers.

Mixed Media Poppy CanvasThen five art journal pages from the last 6 weeks...

Jellyfish Art Journal Page - Gwen Lafleur
Jellyfish Art Journal Page - Gwen Lafleur
Jellyfish Art Journal Page - Gwen Lafleur

The one above uses a super cool stencil designed by Seth Apter for StencilGirl.  Loved it with the molding paste.

Freedom and Imagine Art Journal Pages - Gwen Lafleur
It's not a whole lot, but I'm trying to get back into it. I have one page started right now and also another cardboard art journal in the works. Or the cover, at least... it's a start! Anyway, I'll take a break for Thanksgiving but then I should get back to it - I'd love to do some holiday themed stuff going into December. We'll see... more busy-ness is on the horizon, but I'm hoping to keep a bit more balance over the next few months.


Recent Artsy Classes

I've taken a lot of classes lately... and done a little teaching too!

In October Patty and I got to go up to Mass. to spend a weekend taking classes from Dyan Reavley. It was so much fun, and I learned a ton! We took Writing in your Journal, Stamping in your Journal, and Art Journal Extravaganza.

Dyan Reavely Weekend 1
Dyan Reavely Weekend 1
Dyan Reavely Weekend 1
Dyan Reavely Weekend 1
Dyan Reavely Weekend 1
Dyan Reavely Weekend 1I'm so glad I got the chance to do that!

Then we had our October mixed media club where Debbie Mac taught us about doing faces.

October Mixed Media Club 1

We started out drawing, working on the different proportions. Mine looks okay, except for the fact that she looks like she's stuck up and bored.

October Mixed Media Club 2We also worked with acrylic paint and some of Donna Downey's new face stamps:

October Mixed Media Club 3

Then at the end of October, I taught my cardboard art journal class. We had a great group and I think everyone had a good time. I've heard about a few people still working on those, and Sue showed me what she had done at our club meeting this last week - they all turned out great!

Cardboard Art Journal Class 1
Cardboard Art Journal Class 1So that was October... then into November. I was in Chicago for the first week, and then the following weekend I met Patty at The Inspiration Station up in Stafford Springs for a day of advanced Zentangle classes. We took tangling in color, where we learned about drawing and coloring as well as using colored backgrounds.

Tangling in Color Class - 1And that afternoon we took a class on organic tangles on toned paper. That was also super fun.

Organic Tangling ClassAfter classes, Patty took me to Stew Leonard's - it's a grocery store, but a very cool one. Probably as close as I've come to finding something similar to a Wegman's... not quite, but still pretty good. They sell a really good boulognese sauce and they had these killer corn popper thingies on their hot bar... lots of fun! Close enough that I'd go back, but not so close that I'd be there a lot. Which is a good thing!

Finally, this last week we had our November mixed media club - Mac and I taught water soluble crayons - Lyra and Neocolor II. It was a smaller group, but that made it so we did lots of techniques and projects. I think the real hit of the night was using them with gesso and stamping with them.

November Mixed Media Club 1
November Mixed Media Club 1

Here are some of the projects we did... I had made a sample coloring and then using water to make the circle design, so a lot of people did something similar in their books.

November Mixed Media Club 1Whew! That's it for the classes... big update, but lots of fun over the last 6 weeks or so.


Scrapbook Layout and a Golden Demo

This last week I had the urge to take a break from the arty stuff and do a scrapbook layout... it's definitely been a while! My printer is almost completely out of ink - to the point where I'm not sure I could print an entire photo. Being too lazy to edit and upload photos to get printed and too cheap (at present) to order more ink, I dug out some old Instagrams I had printed last year. These are from a night out for karaoke and dinner with the Peanut Gallery while I was still living in Utah.

Peanuts Night Out
I took bits and pieces of Studio Calico kits and combined them with stuff from my stash to do a quick layout. It's pretty eclectic, and I really like it. Here's a bit of a close-up:

Peanuts Night Out Close-up
Today I met up with Patty to head to West Hartford for a little shopping and exploration and then to go over to Jerry's Artarama for a Golden demo and, of course, more shopping. We went to a really fun store called Charming Charlie where we found some fun jewelry and accessories and then across the street to Munson's Chocolates for some locally made goodies. After that we went to Rizzuto's to have lunch - an amazing Carrot, Ginger and Apple soup and then some pizza that ended up going home for dinner. I would go back there again - delicious.

Then it was the main event - the Golden Demo at Jerry's.

Jerry's West Hartford
The demo was two hours and was taught by an artist named Roy Kinzer. He was entertaining and knowledgeable, and the time flew by.

Golden Demo 1
We got a really great packet of information and I took quite a few notes. I learned a lot about things I could do with the supplies I already have, as well as more about new and new to me products. It was really great. Very visual and super helpful.

Golden Demo 2
For a free demo, it was really pretty amazing. And to top it off, they even gave us a Golden goodie bag with samples of 4 different paints and small tubes of 2 different mediums. I'm feeling ready to try and branch out a bit more and keep improving what I'm doing. Hopefully they'll do some more of this type of things so I can keep learning.

It was a good day :)


2 More Canvases

My quest to remake all of my old canvases continues... this time I did two of the smaller 8x10 canvas boards.

Here's the first one I did last weekend... playing off of a page that I really liked from my art journal:

Sunshine and Rain unframed - Gwen LafleurThe clouds are all printed acetate diecuts from a Studio Calico kit. I added some Stampendous Frantage embossing powder, dictionary pages, Basic Grey rubons, and Liquid Pearls (of course!)

Sunshine and Rain Canvas - Gwen Lafleur
I'm pleased with the shading on my little spherical flowers. Still learning, but definitely improving!

Speaking of improving... I almost didn't do this next project because when I first thought about doing it, I didn't think I'd be able to. But I decided to try just taking it one step at a time. I wanted to do it based off of this photo that I took of some giraffes when Nicole and I were on safari in South Africa a few years ago.

P5270095
I was about half-way through when I looked at what I'd done and thought to myself... maybe I can actually do this painting thing.

IMG_2119
I mean hey... they didn't even have their spots yet and they still pretty much look like giraffes! I still need to work on matching up the expression and features from the picture, but I did okay on positioning and perspective. So I kept going and finished it up.

3 Giraffes - Gwen Lafleur wC
I still look at it and see a lot of areas for improvement, but I also see how far I've already come. And that's a really good, big thing for me.

3 Giraffes close-up - Gwen Lafleur wC
That's my last canvas for now... I've been working on other projects and haven't started a new one yet, but I'm thinking I might do another one over the weekend. We'll see how it goes.


Dr. Seuss' Garden, Chicago, and Gelatos

Not that those three things are related... just that they all happened within the last week, so I'm posting about them together to catch up a bit :)

First, last Saturday Patty and I went up to The Inspiration Station in Stafford Springs to take a class called Dr. Seuss' Garden. It was taught by their Zentangle teacher, and we did do some drawing and tangling, but the main purpose was to learn how to use color with Tombow markers. We got several markers with the class, and learned about 18 techniques on how to use them. I had a good time drawing out samples on my notes page and then using my favorites in the project.

Here's my in progress shot from the class:

Dr Seuss' Garden - In Class

After class, we ran over to West Hartford for my first visit to Jerry's Artarama where we happened to catch their Back to School sale. It's been YEARS since I've been to a big art supply store like this (last time was Pearl Art in Virginia like 15 years ago) so this was like walking into my personal version of heaven. Especially since I was greeted with this:

Jerry's Golden Sale
I may have stocked up a bit. But I will say, in the last week, I've used everything that I bought, and found a new favorite paint brush - it's a Silver Ruby Satin #1 Round (I needed that size) and it's fabulous. I have a store credit for next week's Golden Acrylic Grounds demo, so I think I'll get some more since they'll still be on sale.

Then at home, I finished the class project. Fun! I'll have to use these techniques more.

Dr Seuss' Garden - Final Project
Then, mid-week I took a very quick trip out to our new Chicago office for our first America's eCommerce team summit. The new office happens to be in the Willis Tower (old Sears Tower).

Willis TowerAnd the view out toward Lake Michigan from our office:

View from the Office
And the view from where we ate lunch on Wednesday:

Chicago - Lunchtime view
The weather was beautiful, and I really liked the area where I stayed and around the office. I'm hoping to explore more on future visits. Possibly my favorite part of all? This was right around the corner (literally like 50 feet) from my hotel.

Blick - Chicago Loop
I promise, I did not know that was there when I booked the room. I just picked it because it was a half mile from the office and my boss was staying there - convenient and reasonably priced. But I can guarantee you that I'll be staying there again! I got to go into Blicks (again... my own heaven!) and browse after work on Tuesday. It was probably a good thing since I was traveling with just a carry-on, so it limited my ability to buy more paint (like I need any.) But I got a few tubes, a few more brushes, and a very nice set of pastels that were on sale - I've been itching to do more pastel work soon.

Anyway, Chicago was nice. Aside from the 3.5 hour delay from the thunderstorm. We were boarding the plane on time (unusual for O'Hare from what I've heard) and as we were getting on, we were watching lightening flash outside. So we knew we weren't going anywhere for a while. But I read a book and then the captain enabled free DirecTV for everyone... and since Economy Plus was the only option for my return flight, at least I had some leg room while we waited it out! I got home just before 3am, but I made it. At least it wasn't a blizzard (this time!)

Finally, Thursday night was our Mixed Media club at Papercraft Clubhouse. This month we were learning about Faber Castel Gelatos (unfortunately, no ice cream involved, but this was just as good.) We went through several techniques and got to play and try them out. I learned quite a bit which is good, since I have a lot of Gelatos that I don't use like I should!

Mixed Media Night - Gelatos
So that's it... I do have a few new canvases to post, so that will come soon.

And for anyone interested (and local!) I'm actually going to get back into teaching... just a bit. I'll be doing my cardboard journal at Papercraft Clubhouse on October 26th. Watch for more info on that!


Hello Sunshine

Um... have I actually posted every day this week? It's a miracle! I'd like to say I'll keep it up, but likey not. lol.

Today, however, Gennifer Bursett released a great new kit over at Pixels & Company called Indian Summer. I wanted to do something with it so I opened up my folder of pictures from vacation. These are the first pictures I saw, and the colors matched the kit perfectly. This is Adorable-Niece-Aubrey, being quite particular about her fashion choices.

Hello-Sunshine---Aubrey
It was funny because Nicole said they have a hard time getting her to smile for pictures. I found the solution! I used my phone to take pictures and flipped the camera so she could see herself. It was cheese city after that! She is one funny little girl.

Well. I'm off to take a new class tomorrow at a store I haven't been to yet up near the MA border. I'm super excited about it... it's a doodling / Zentangle class called Dr. Seuss' Garden. Should be fun! I'm hoping to sneak in a trip to Jerry's Artorama on my way back home... never been there, but I keep hearing good things about it and it's kind of on the way. Sounds like a great Saturday to me!


Today's project: peacock!

via Instagram http://instagram.com/p/dOJNhoDX8E/
Painted Peacock Art Journal Page - Gwen Lafleur
Did a little experiment in my art journal... I used Tim Holtz Distress Stains and Viva Silks for the background. Molding paste with the Balzer Designs 6x6 peacock feathers stencil to do the feathers - those are covered with Pan Pastels, distress Stickles and Liquid Pearls. I really liked this for a first attempt! I think I'll have to try doing something similar on a canvas.


Art Journaling Fun

I've been giving my art journal a workout. I guess more accurately I'd call it an art play notebook... not much journaling going on! (But! I just signed up for a whole weekend of journaling workshops with Dyan Reavely at Absolutely Everything in October, so that part will be coming for sure!)

This first one I did before the Donna Downey workshops. It was mostly just an exercise to loosen up my creative muscles and let go of perfectionism. Hence, "let go."

Let Go Art Journal Page - Gwen Lafleur
The next one was done shortly after my Donna Downey workshops, and was actually inspired by one of her Inspiration Wednesdays. I took a bunch of dried paint scraps out of my palettes and put them down with gel medium as a base for the page. I went a bit wild with the color, but it was a lot of fun! The fish are totally random... I felt like it needed something and glanced over at my stamp display and saw the fish. So on he went!

Go Fish Art Journal Page - Gwen Lafleur
Next up, I ordered some Montana Paint pens for a class I was thinking about taking, knowing that I'd want the pens whether I took the class or not. And I love them. I did this just to play with the pens, copying the blue bird that I'd sketched in colored pencil the day before. Lots of modeling paste in the background, old KI Memories Love, Elsie alphabet rubons for the title. I used gel medium to adhere the kraft paper onto the page, so it's reflecting a bit... need to find a better place to take photos. (Kraft is actually a paper bag.)

Spread Your Wings Art Journal Page - Gwen Lafleur
Then, I was feeling ready for vacation, so I did this next page. I had an old sheet of vacation words from the Making Memories Getaway collection, and I was kind of feeling hibiscus - thinking back to our vacation in Costa Rica a few years ago. If you look, you can see that I used the entire page of word stickers in the background, then painted over top.

Pura Vida Art Journal Page - Gwen Lafleur
This last journal page is probably my absolute favorite so far. I wanted to play around with doing bright color on a dark background, and this one just kind of evolved. I had the dark background with the clouds and rain drops at the top and then the bright flowers on the side... it ended up being a funky dichotemy and for some reason, the old Rob Bass and E-Z Rock song, "Joy and Pain" popped into my head. So the lyrics became my title... and I love it! Very old Cactus Pink rubons for the title. Wish I had more of those...

Joy and Pain Art Journal Page - Gwen Lafleur
After that, I decided I wanted to try out some of what I've been playing with to make some mixed media Project Life cards. I used four of these in my July project life (will photograph and post soon.) I'm definitely going to make more! I also photographed these (way better than below) thinking I might eventually make them into prints. We'll see.

Mixed Media Project Life Cards - Gwen Lafleur
So that's what I've been doing lately... more projects on the way :)


Decorative Doodling with Joanne Sharpe

On Saturday afternoon two weeks ago, I got a text from my friend Patty letting me know she'd found out that Joanne Sharpe was going to be teaching at a store in Massachusetts (Absolutely Everything.) There were two spots left in one of the classes and she wanted to know if I was interested in making a day of it. Of course! I've followed Joanne online for a few years now (I'm signed up for one of her online classes, but typical me, I haven't made it past the 2nd lesson yet) so I was excited to get to take a class with her.

So, last Saturday, Patty and I met up and drove up to the store. It was a bit short of a 3 hour drive - it's a little south of the New Hampshire border.

Doodling with Joanne Sharpe - Almost there
Neither of us had ever been there before, but wow. What a store! The owner showed us around and let us know what everyone was buying from the previous classes so we would know what to look for and of course, so we could see if we wanted anything before-hand. I could seriously get lost in that place... they had so much! It was like a piece of nirvana for my artsy, mixed-media loving heart. Next time I'm there, I'll have to take pictures. Sigh.

But on to the class...

Doodling with Joanne Sharpe - Supplies at the ready
Patty and I weren't sure what to expect... I'd found a class description and supply list online, so we came with bags of markers and pens and watercolors. We got the Strathmore Visual Journal watercolor notebook with the class. As it turns out, we barely touched our pens and markers! (That freaked me out a lot at first. lol.)

Doodling with Joanne Sharpe - Initial demo
Joanne started out with some general doodling concepts and rules of thumb... you can tell she's a teacher by trade. She did a lot of demonstration. I was super impressed by the fact that she had a handout numbered with the 12 concepts for the class, and then samples for each of them that were also numbered so we could take pictures and then match them up to the handout when we got home. On top of that, she demonstrated each of them for us.

Doodling with Joanne Sharpe - Paint Doodling Demo
We were doodling with watercolors and acrylic paints and Viva Silks... the pens and markers were more for accents! This class was WAY outside of my comfort zone, but in a good way. I started almost all of the assignments in the class, took notes, took LOTS of photos, and decided to withhold judgment on what looked like a bunch of blobby crap until I'd finished them all at home.

Doodling with Joanne Sharpe - Patty and I with Joanne
Joanne was super nice, and flattered that we'd driven all that way just for a single class. We just wished we'd known about it sooner so we could have made a weekend of it! (We're on the newsletter list now!) Granted, we were there for less time than we were driving... lol, but between the class and the store itself, it was more than worth it.

We got back late, but even though it was well after midnight, I unpacked all my stuff and set it up to be ready to play after church on Sunday. Then Sunday, I proceeded to work through the assignments.

It blew.my.mind. Those blobby pieces of crap turned out really nicely! I was totally shocked to realize that I could do something that looked even similar to her samples. Here are two of the pages from my book showing some of the 12 techniques:

Doodling with Joanne Sharpe - Finishing Assignments
I can't claim credit for the designs - I was working based off of her samples to see if I could do the techniques. But now that I've done these, I can definitely apply them to my own drawings! The left is using Twinkling H2Os as an accent to watercolored doodling, and the right is pen, marker, and watercolor.

And here's a doodle I did that was inspired by one of hers - I wanted to try something Zentangle but in a looser style than usual. I love this one!

Doodling with Joanne Sharpe - After Class Feather Doodle

The class was only a week ago, but I've been in a creative frenzy ever since. This class, combined with what I learned in Donna Downey's workshops, and other videos, browsing, classes, etc... have all started to gel in my mind and I've got so much adrenaline pumping lately!

Next post... some of the fun stuff I've been doing in my art journal as I play with all these techniques.


December Daily: Day 6

I can't believe how quickly the month is going... and have I gotten any progress made on Christmas presents since the weekend? of course not! But I'll buckle down and get it done soon... I need to be finished by this weekend, and I have world champion procrastination skills. Meaning, I'll put it off and then get it done. Hopefully without having to stay up so late I get sick - I've done that, don't want to repeat it for the holidays! Besides, we're working on being less stressful and more about the meaning of the holidays this year, right? I think I take that too literally... like, it's less stressful for me to watch TV than to work on my projects. lol.

Anyway, here's today's entry:

December Daily Day 6

I decided to just do holiday-related events today instead of including journaling from Shimelle's daily prompt... I'll hit that one next year.

December Daily Day 6 - left

This one is about something we did at work today. Caroling. Sort of... lol. We're shooting a short video for our online advertising and we needed a choir of carolers to sing in the spot. It was just audio (thank goodness! Not a good hair day.) so we went outside (because carolers sing outside - it's more natural, right?) and did a few very bad renditions of two songs. "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" and "Deck the Halls." They had me and two other girls do very high operatic versions, a few people sang it straight, and a few sang very out of tune. It was perfectly horrific. lol. They came back to their editing room and put it with the rough of the video and it's so fun - I'll have to post a link or something when we get it live.

December Daily Day 6 - right

The other side was just a little newspaper insert one of my friends at work brought me today that shows the progress on the Core I-15 construction project as well as what's left. It's been a brutal time commuting through all of that, and we have a year left... not looking forward to it. But it was somewhat cheering to see how much is done and to know that they're still on schedule to finish on time.

Here's a close-up of my carolers on the left page:

December Daily Day 6 - carolers

Pin It

I didn't have any pictures of our caroling at work today... I totally should have taken my phone down and snapped a few, but I didn't. So, I decided to just draw some. These are based on a b/w sketch I found online, but I personalized it a bit. It started as pencil on cold-pressed watercolor paper, then I colored with gouache. Finally I outlined and added detail with fine / extra-fine tipped Sharpies. It felt kind of fun and whimsical. Who says you need pictures! lol. Besides... this way I was able to just draw and paint while I watched The Biggest Loser and then just run up and throw it all together quickly. Multi-tasking... woot!

See you tomorrow!


Another peek in my sketchbook

Just popping in with today's sketch. (I know... I'm posting three times today!) The video I watched today was about using objects as inspiration. When I looked around for objects to start with, I immediately saw the perfume bottles (filled with perfume) that I bought in Dubai. I thought they would be great subjects since I love them, they have a story and they would be challenging and interesting to sketch, especially from the perspective I decided on. I have to say, I'm really pleased with the results. I really love getting back into the artsy stuff and can't wait to keep going :-)

This started as a pencil drawing and then I colored with metallic watercolors and gouache and finished with an ultra-fine black Sharpie.

Another peek in my sketchbook


A little sketching, a little smashing

Just jumping in quickly to post a few more pages from my journals that I didn't get up last time. I haven't had time to do any more, but things are slowing down again so I hope I'll be able to get back into the lessons, document graduation, finish up the yearbook and get to work on my FBE photobook.

The first is just fun recent weekend stuff - playing around and having fun :)

Smash 1

The second has a page about rejoining the gym near my house - I was a member before school, but knew I wouldn't have time to go. But now that I do, I wanted to add some variety into my daily routine. Treadmill and hand weights are fine, but having other cardio and strength options really helps. Also a page about the art classes I signed up for.

Smash 2

The last is another page about my produce addiction. Apparently I have a limited imagination (or very short-term memory) because I use the same or similar titles in several different places. I'll have to work on that. But on the other hand, I can always say that I was thinking in terms of a series, right? Graduation will eventually make its way in here.

Smash 3

And a few more from my sketch book. I'm trying to sketch things from daily life instead of copying, so I sketched a slice of the veggie pizza I made recently. (The drawing on the left is an old one I posted a while ago). I did actually intend for this to be a series of sketches about my love of produce.

Sketch 1

The second was more of an exercise... Alisa did some succulents in one of her videos, but I've seen a lot of photos of them on Pinterest lately and just love them, so I did one too... I didn't actually look at her sketch when I did it, so I think that helped me put my own spin on it. When I looked back I was surprised how different they were.

Sketch 2

The last sketch for now is a little drawing I did of strawberries after getting a beautiful container of them in my Bountiful Basket. Sweet and yummy and so lovely to look at. (And yes, this is a different book - one is a sketchbook and one is watercolor paper and I switch between them depending on what supplies I'm using in the sketch. I also have different sizes that I haven't broken into yet, but it's coming!)

Sketch 3

One of the best and most important parts of doing these classes has been learning to accept my own style. I'm finally getting to the point where I feel like it's okay that my stuff doesn't look like what I see from artists in books and on the web. And I'm not an artist, so why should it? And you can tell by looking that it's a slice of pizza or a bowl of strawberries, so as far as I'm concerned, that's pretty good. But it's ironic that it's taken me this long to embrace my own individuality in a genre where being unique is celebrated. Why do I want to blend in? I have a fairly unique style so I'm trying to run with it and just improve it rather than make it into something that's not real. So anyway. Enough deep thinking... lol. On to the next one!


Art Class

Last week I mentioned that I had signed up for some online art classes. I haven't started the Pan Pastels class yet, but I've been working through the lessons and videos for Sketchbook Delight, and it's been a lot of fun. I've been playing a bit in my sketchbook and took a few pictures. I have a little more since then so I'll get those posted eventually.

First, I just did a little playing and sketching along with the videos to get used to the supplies and to doing any kind of drawing again after so long.

IMG_7013

Then I started playing with watercolors, watercolor pencils and my Caran d'Ache watercolor crayons. I love the outlined look too - that's something I've picked up from the class that really suits my personal style.

IMG_7012

IMG_7015

I've also been playing in my Smash Book - I've done several pages, but I only have a picture of the finished page for this one so far:

IMG_7017

I guess I need to take some more pictures and get stuff posted, huh?

Anyway, that's the artsty stuff. Next up, graduation!


I miss school.

I need something to do. I crave it. I'm totally lost without it. I now spend the majority of my free time on evenings and weekends sitting in front of the TV watching the Food Network and reading trash novels (that's what my Aunt Pat calls anything that isn't of significant literary worth. lol. I prefer the term "escape." Semantics.) I realized that my descent into couch-potato-ness was coming hard and fast. Which is weird because I'm dying to get back into my studio and create - my boards on Pinterest are totally filling with great ideas and inspiration. Alas, motivation has been an issue. After getting up at 5:15 every morning to go to the gym, come home and get ready for work, go to work all day, maybe run errands, come home and fix dinner, eat... at that point it's 8pm and I'm exhausted. This is when I make up excuses for not going up to the attic and sitting down with a book and a cooking show or three instead.

So I gave myself an intervention.

Since learning and classes give me the structure and the challenge that I crave, I decided to go back to school! Only not really. lol. I'm not quite that crazy... I should wait at least 6 months ;) But I did sign up for a few online classes. The first is Donna Downey's PanPastel 101 class (I'll probably take the whole series).

Panpastel101 wksp

I've had my eye on this for a while and finally bought some workable fixative last weekend - I have everything else I need. I figured, I have all these supplies and I don't use them - so it's time! I downloaded all the materials and I can't wait to start (and I confess, I also used this as an excuse to order the PanPastel trays instead of the annoying containers they come in where you can't see the colors and you need an engineering degree to screw them back together.)

And the other class is one I'm super excited about. I signed up for Alisa Burke's Sketchbook Delight class.

708_sketchbookdelight

I used to be fairly good at drawing back when my mom had me in classes when we lived in Colorado. I had a fairly impressive portfolio for a 10-year old. But it's one of those things that you lose when you don't practice and I haven't spent much time drawing in the last 20 years or so. Time to start again! I already have tons ofDrawing supplies, but I did order some watercolors and another book on drawing that's been on my wishlist for a while - Carla Sonheim's Drawing Lab for Mixed Media Artists.There's another book or two I have my eye on if I really get into this. I'm also planning to take Alisa's watercolor class next. I bookmarked a few other classes that look awesome too. I feel motivation just pumping through my veins right now.

Of course, since I need to stop and return a pair of shoes to Kohl's tonight and there happens to be a Michael's next door, I thought I should see if they have anything on sale that I just *have* to have for these classes. Lo and behold, sketchbooks and watercolor paper are all 40% off, and there's a coupon for 20% off your order including sale items. But I didn't have a coupon printed. But! I remembered that Michael's had a sign about e-coupons the last time I was there so I pulled up their website. Yes, there's an app for that. No more printing coupons! I get the weekly ads and all the coupons in the handy little app on my iPad. I *heart* technology. I had the nerdiest little burst of joy when I scanned my first QR code and downloaded the app. Sigh. And you know what the best thing about drawing is? I can do it WHILE watching the Food Network. It's win/win. lol.

P.S. - speaking of food, I made a summer veggie pizza last night that was AMAZING. I took pictures and I'll post the recipe soon. I said it before, but I'm just adoring fresh produce right now, and I think I'm going to start ordering Bountiful Baskets too. And, the Thanksgiving Point Farmer's Market opens this Friday. Can't get enough! 


This is not your mother's family tree.

Okay, so technically this is my mother's family tree.  lol.  But it's kind of a funky modern version.  One of the activities at our upcoming reunion is a family history night.  I'm actually looking forward to hearing the stories and seeing what everyone else brings.  My contribution?  I made this cool family tree to put into the scrapbook.  I have a pedigree chart that goes back a few more generations that I'll put on the opposing page so they get names and dates to go with these photos.  I'm really pleased with how this turned out... until tonight it's just been kind of a concept in my head.

3 Generation Tree

I've had the tree drawn for over a month but tonight I finally scanned it.  I had scanned all the photos a few weeks ago and I've just been putting off pulling it all together, but I'm so glad I followed through on this.  I even got a ton of photos uploaded to my online tree on Ancestry.  I've also finished 6 more pages for the album, but they aren't scanned yet... still plugging along!

I think it's bedtime now.


Staying up way too late on a weeknight for no good reason.

I had absolutely no intention of staying up past 11 tonight (last night?).  But when by 10:40 I had only just finished getting the pictures edited and printed, it was probably a lost cause.  Of course I got started late seeing as how I had to watch the Avs game, right?  (They won - sweet!  And I needed the time on the treadmill while I was watching.  I really needed it.  Melting Pot anyone?)  Anyway, once I got going on this one I couldn't really stop.

Top_of_africa

I also originally had no intention of making this layout an homage to Making Memories... lol.  But it just happened that just about every time I found something that I thought went with the layout, that's who made it.

Blog_city_drawingOh yeah.  I guess this is also to blame for the fact that I'm still awake.  Allow me to explain (this is going to be stream of consciousness... translation: long, convoluted and possibly incomprehensible). 

When I first decided what pictures I wanted to scrapbook tonight, I started thinking about this stamp that I used to have from way back when I subscribed to the Magic Scraps kit club.  If you even know what I'm talking about I'm shocked and impressed... lol.  But one of the kits came with an urban skyline rubber stamp.  Of course, that stamp was purged who knows how long ago so I started playing around thinking maybe I could re-create it.  At first I thought this was just scratch, but then I started thinking that maybe I was really going to go with this so I got totally into it.  Then I finished it (note the satellite dish. lol.) and realized that the look and feeling was totally wrong for my pictures.  So yeah.  That's kind of a random tangent.  But I like my little picture :)

And with that I'm going to bed now.  Seriously.


Where's Waldo?

P9190037lol, that's what I was thinking when I looked at the new picture of this little gem.  What's different?  Black.  Lots of black.  It's like the answer to all important questions.  What should I wear?  Black.  How do I fix that stupid painting so that I don't just hate it?  Black.  Nice.  I poured some black paint on my paletted and added it wherever I felt like it until the paint was gone and then I called it good.  Go figure... I actually like it now.  It might still be a little Picasso-y, but hey.  Oh well.  I've never said I was an artist... lol.

Anyway, in other news, I just wanted to share visual proof that I only liveP9190035 on Slim Fast and Lean Cuisine about 98% of the time.  I'm a better cook than an artist, actually... lol... which might not be saying much.  I just figure when you're cooking for one, why bother?  But tonight I felt the need to pay homage to Melody's unbelievable guacamole.  Now, since I know that I could never replicate it (especially without the recipe), I decided to just be inspired by it and make my own (howbeit inferior) version.  I call it, Gwen's Tomato Chipotle Guac.  And it was pretty good, actually.  LOL.  Throw in some marinated sirloin, tortillas and plantain chips, and it's a tasty treat :D  (I hear someone out there saying, this girl needs a hobby.  lol.  Would you believe that I also did a scrapbook layout tonight and called DirecTV to find out why pre-season hockey is blacked out if they aren't going to add it to Center Ice?  And I only had one Mountain Dew today.  Diet even.  Well, now I've procrastinated bedtime long enough.  Tomorrow is another day ;)


Catching Up...

So, the first portion of my post can be filed under "lessons learned."  Never book a flight where you change airlines with less than a 2-hour layover (especially when one of those airlines is Frontier) unless you actually LIKE having your bag "misplaced" going both directions.  LOL. 

Second, I haven't really been doing a lot of scrapbooking lately (although thanks to Mel, I think I'm back on track :D ) so a few weeks ago I decided to pull out some canvases I had started and finish up a few paintings that I was working on.  These were supposed to be somewhat modern multi-media representations of Paris and Venice, but I think the jury is still out.  I'm pretty sure I like Paris, but... well... lol.  Anyway, I found some awesome black wood frames on clearance at Target so I went ahead and framed and hung them anyway :DParis_painting_1 Venice_painting_1

Yesterday, we celebrated my grandma's 79th birthday (although, we did haMiracle_1ve to continually remind her that it was HER birthday we were celebrating.  LOL.)  The best part was after grandma managed to blow out all three of her candles and grandpa says "well, THAT was a miracle."  LOL.  My family is seriously funny.  Of course, we're also quite silly.  I present exhibits B and C below, which involve myself, my sister, and a very dirty dog named Casper.

Nicole_and_i_1 

Casper_and_i_1

The other cool thing yesterday was a quote that our teacher read in Sunday School.  Now I'm sure that those who are LDS and have been to gospel doctrine recently have probably already heard this, but it was new to me (our ward is a few weeks behind on lessons)... it's a quote from Spencer W. Kimball that we were discussing in relation both to Jonah and his whale friend, and us personally.  "I can see no good reason why the Lord would open doors that we are not prepared to enter."  That was so cool for me!  I've been staring in an open door with some fears and this was just a perfect message at the perfect time, you know?  Love those!

Now, for the catch-up post finale, I present to you what it looks like wMel_scrapbooking_2hen you scrapbook to Nine Inch Nails and Candlebox (and while, in my case, drinking Mountain Dew.  Mmm... Mountain Dew.)   And, below, we see the direct results of giving a 6-year old a camera.  LOL.6_year_old_with_camera_1