Sunday, January 25, 2009

wings of the wind

wings of the wind
mixed media, 5x7 inches

This journal and the Heart of the Land journal are now both available at You can read more about this panel over at the amanobooks blog

On Friday, book artist Geraldine Newfry stopped by to pick up an encaustic painting that she purchased from me. I had just finished framing it for her. We talked shop and I showed her my studio. Our talk gave me a lot to think about. Thanks Gerri, if you're reading this!

Then on Saturday I met up again with her and another book artist, Debb of The Forgotten Toy Box, and Francine who does mixed media art. We did a show and tell and chatted about this,that and the other. I think the next time we meet we are supposed to bring something to work on, while chatting about this, that and the other.

What a treat it was to go into Gerri's studio! It was like going into a dwelling of special secret places with art, art, everywhere. She also is an organization nut and I think she has me beat in the number of labeled bins and drawers. You just have to be that way when you do mixed media, I think. There's just too much Stuff!

It's nice to be around other like-minded creative people and I hope to meet with them once a month. It is hard coordinating it at times as my weeks are full with family things. And when I am not doing "famiy things" then I am in my studio painting. I am very possessive of My Time as I don't get too much of it. But I am also realizing how important community is. Balance.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

this and that

today, noah 2 years old

It's been a full week and I am feeling a sense of letting go inside. I have a lot of expectations of myself, when it comes to my art and my books, but I am learning to let those expectations go. And with that, my perspective is softening and it feels better to not be so rigid. Embracing all aspects of my life, rather than have them compete with one another. Savoring the little moments as much as I can, because I know that they will be gone faster than I realize.

Today I got to work in my studio this morning and got some mixed media journals prepped to bind and worked on a painting. This afternoon, Noah joined me in the studio. He got an easel for his 2nd birthday and I set it up next to mine. He loves being in the studio. I get to do little things here and there when he's with me up there. It's a lot of fun. I was hammering some holes with my awl today and he got a big kick out of that.

Being a mother and being an artist is an interesting balance. The two roles can really complement each other, rather than compete. The balance is tough though at times and being a mom to a two year old is really demanding, to say the least! There is a lot I would like to do with my art, but there just isn't enough time in the day or energy in my body. I tell myself, the time will come, it's just not for Now. I will do what I can as much as I am able, but there are limitations to what can be accomplished when I am not working full-time as I was before. And I am grateful for the time that I do get to paint and work on my books. And I wouldn't have it any other way. Noah is the light of my life and I would like to have more children if it is possible.

My painting instructor from last fall also has a little guy- she wrote about having a one year old in her studio in her blog today. I loved reading what she had to say about painting with a one year old in your studio.

A friend of mine, Suzanne Clements, has posted two articles on art marketing. Suzanne was instrumental in helping me get my first solo show and for that she will always have a big place in my heart. During those months before the show we would set up times to talk on the phone to check up on my progress. She helped me figure so much out and passed on so much information and advice. She was like my art guardian angel! I remember one talk in particular where we discussed pricing, to shipping, to inventory....all the while I was feeding Noah a very messy lunch of sweet potatoes! And she was so nice to be understanding about that.

I also wrote a journaling tip on blog on Tuesday featuring the art of Mary Boden. Go check it out!

Off to answer some emails and then sit on the couch and bind some journals. Good night!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

the heart of the land

In the Heart of the Land
mixed media and encaustic, 6x8 inches
to be bound as a journal cover later

This is my first mixed media piece to be inspired by the midwest since I've moved to Chicago. The tree that inspired this piece resides somewhere in Wisconsin. I took the photo when I went up to Cedarburg this past October.

I'm still playing around with the title. I didn't just want to call it "heartland" as I have a small oil painting that I created several years ago called that. That little painting was inspired by our drive from St. Louis to Seattle when we moved there! It's a scene from South Dakota, you may recognize it if you've ever driven through there. Just kidding. But really the scenery doesn't change much along that stretch. I thought it was beautiful.

Despite the barbaric temperatures outside and scary, slippery streets, I have been feeling more at home here. More at peace with our move. I think the fact that I created this mixed media painting is testament to that. And maybe even helped me reconnect to my new environment during the process of creating it.

To create this panel I used an old record sleeve that I sewed lines across. The tree in the middle is encased in wax and paint. I hammered in some small tack nails at the bottom of the panel.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

snow, snow, snow

Here in Chicagoland snow, snow and more snow has been falling from the sky and drifting about with the gusts of arctic wind. I have been hibernating. You'd think that would mean that I have more time on my hands to get things done. But being housebound with a two year old....not so much! My mother was in town this past week too to celebrate my little guy turning 2. It was nice hibernating with my mom in the house. We cooked together, huddled on the couch together, and she also helped me organize my studio closets. I feel so much better now that I don't have boxes falling everywhere and I have my shipping and packing station all set up. I don't know when I became such an organization freak. My mom was amazed too. I was never ever like that.

I posted a journaling tip yesterday to blog, but only found time today to do a quick post about it here. For those who struggle with journaling or feel like just pure writing in a journal is out of fashion, go check it out.

a spread from a visual journal, 2005-2007

I have some exciting projects ahead of me and can't wait to get some good studio time to get working on them. One is a collaborative project with two mixed media artists, both of whose works intrigue me- Seth Apter and Jen Worden. I don't do collaborative projects very often because the time I have in the studio is so limited and I need to concentrate on other things...things that pay the bills! But at the same time, there is something about working with other artists that pushes one's limits. And that kind of growth is invaluable. The other project is a painting that I have been commissioned to do and I can't wait to get started on it. I think that it will become a project close to my heart.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

on journaling

stack of my journals, '04-'09

Just a quick announcement that I will be posting a journaling tip every Tuesday over at the blog. I am by no means a "journaling expert", but I have been keeping a journal since I was in grade school and it makes me happy to share what I do. There have been periods where a year would go by without any entries, but there was always a journal on hand in case I ever wanted to write something down.

In my journals, I am a writer. That may seem like a "duh" statement, but with all the visual journalers out there, I feel like I have to specify. But between pages and pages of writing, I also have visual journal entries, which are usually accompanied with writing. Like I said, I am a writer. So, most of my prompts will be geared towards writing, but if relevant, I will also post visual journaling tips too.

So, check it out if you ever feel like you need a prompt or an idea!

I also thought of showcasing other people's visual journal pages if they are relevant to the topic. If you are interested, please email me at bridgette @

Sunday, January 04, 2009


Today I met up with fellow blogger and encaustic artist, Beth of Tangled Sky Studio for coffee. Again, it was so nice to meet someone that I have gotten to know online. And I don't know what it is about encaustics, but at least for me, if I meet another artist who works in encaustics, it's like an instant bond!

I really love to hear other's stories about how they came to their creative paths. Not all of us are born knowing that this is the path we need to be following. Or maybe we know, and yet other things have to happen first before we take the plunge.

It was a great time bouncing ideas, tips, questions off of each other. For the first couple of years of my art-making/journal-making I really kept to myself. Not sure why. Maybe I needed that cocoon time. When I started to keep a blog, I found a whole community of other people also creating away in their studios, kitchens, desks, floor, etc. and I realized that while alone time is essential to the creative process, so is the reaching out. In the past few years, I have been doing that more and it really is valuable- in so many different ways.

When I moved to Chicago I made a promise to myself that I would try to seek out community of other creative spirits. It's a nice goal to always be working on.

I have been adding some prints, matted and unmatted to the art section at and also to my etsy shop.

Friday, January 02, 2009

the year ahead

work in progress
{book made of plaster pages inspired by a book made by Stephanie Lee}

I've been getting a book ready for a collaborative project and it's exciting to think that at the end, all the blank plaster pages that I have bound together will be filled with artwork. What is going to end up on those pages? How will I grow from this project? Will my crazy made-up binding last??

Those same questions could be applied to the year ahead. Except substitute "binding" for ...? Intentions for balance? Intentions for good health?

One of the lessons that I am learning is to accept my time and energy limitations. I always feel like I need to be "accomplishing". Whether it comes from my own capricorn tendencies or that it was drilled into my head by my immigrant parents who worked so hard all their lives, I don't know. But it's something I will keep working on. Acceptance. Patience. Knowing that all things have their time.

And what's a more important accomplishment than raising my 2 year old son? My heart knows this, but sometimes the head(ego) needs reminding.

Speaking of time though- I spend way too much time on the computer! I have this blog, a blog on amanobooks that I recently started, Facebook, and of course all the blogs that I read. I need to be more disciplined about my computer time because my "free" time is so scarce. I'd rather be painting. And I need to be painting.

1. Time: I am going to get a timer and actually set it for 15 minutes. When that timer goes off, I need to get off the computer. Also will have a specific time when I check email and write emails. And a specific time to read blogs, because I love to read them. They inspire me and it is like a community. But I can't spend an hour of nap time reading blogs or checking status updates on FaceBook. That's just not productive!

2. Simplify: I have my hands in too many things in the studio. Makes me feel scattered and unfocused. I still need to continue making my handmade journals. But in terms of painting I am going to focus on encaustics and acrylic/mixed media. I know, that still sounds like a lot. But in my head I feel better about it. I have been working on a large oil painting, and my impatience is rearing its head. Again, the Time thing.

But also it's important to have a focus. And strengthen my abilities and skills within those two mediums.

3. Learn: Sit down and learn QuickBooks for business purposes. As well as Working Artist3.0. I've been using the working artist database program for over a year now and it's good, but I know I'm only using it at a very small percentage to what I could be using it for. I just haven't taken the time to sit and learn it. But if I do, it will save me so much more time in the future.

4. Explore: I still have yet to explore the gallery scene in Chicago. I need to do my homework for the future.

5. Paint, paint, paint. Inventory as soon as a painting is done.

6. Possibly do an art fair in the chicagoland area. There are so so so many during the summertime! At least research them for the future.

7. Get working on the new series.

8. Create at least 2 new mixed media collage journals a month. That is the minimum.

9. Be open to opportunities. But also be mindful of what I take on.

10. Ponder some more about teaching small workshops. Ponder for a little bit, but then decide! Research.

11. Redesign and update my art web site. Add a section for visual journals. Make encaustic and painting sections more current. Old stuff does not need to be up there.

So, that's what's on my mind right now. It's all very "work related". On the other side of it though, my overriding goal this year is to just paint and learn and keep exploring my symbols,my inner dialogue.

Personal goals include baking more bread, going to yoga every week, growing an urban container garden of vegetables, exploring Chicago and all it has to offer, making sure to be in the moment with my little one. Being in the Now.

"How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives." ~Annie Dillard

Thursday, January 01, 2009


One of the things that I love about journaling is the ability to look back, which then also enables me to celebrate my achievements, learn from my mistakes, make adjustments, and look forward to what's ahead. I have done this for years in my personal written journals, and I started to share my art reflections on this blog in 2007, did one in 2008, and now for 2009.

For 2008 I really focused on being present for my little guy while still making sure that I kept up with my artwork and being open to opportunities that presented themselves to me.

Looking back now, 2008 was a big year for our family and also for my art. Moving from Seattle to Chicago was the defining force of our life this past year. But in moments between I managed to produce new work and to keep exploring. It was tough at times finding the time and finding the balance, but I am thankful for the time that I did get.

:: My blog was featured in Artful Blogging, volume 2
:: Had artwork included in 3 books and 1 magazine

:: Workshop with Stephanie Lee in Snohomoish, WA and a workshop with Judy Wise in Cedarburg, WI
:: Took an intuitive painting class in Chicago, IL with Melanie Brown. Something inside has definitely shifted because of this class.

:: I hosted my first open studio during the Ballard Art Walk
:: Featured artist at 2 different venues in the Ballard Art Walk
:: Exhibited in 2 group shows
:: Had work hanging somewhere- gallery, show or coffeeshop consistently from January-August

:: Created 30 new paintings (this is not including mixed media panels that were bound into journals)
:: Sold 23 paintings (not including journals)
:: redesigned

In less quantifiable terms:
:: Still proving to myself that "where there's a will, there's a way"
:: Feeling looser when I paint
:: Learning to accept that I have time and energy limitations
:: Learned to accept that my art will always be there for me, even if I cannot focus on it fully at this moment.

And now onto my intentions........ I'll save that for another post.