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"There are those who make a difference in our day by holding open a door, waving us ahead in traffic, smiling for no reason at all. They may bring us a flower, a package, a plate of cookies. They may do their work so well we barely notice. They often offer a kind word. They should know they make our day. They should know our thanks.”                                            

                                                         - Diane Hanna            Stoneheart Collection of Story Pictures



It felt so so great to have everyone back around the table for our first 2016 gathering. 

A bundle of inspiring conversations and ideas were shared this week!

One of you left your beautiful, soft, navy-fringed scarf behind. It wasn’t gift wrapped, but it still found its way to my head:

For the next few months I’d like to try changing our journal gatherings from Wednesdays to Tuesdays from 2-4.

I really hope this will work for most of you. Could you let me know as soon as possible because I don’t want to loose any of our regular group. Camilla and I discussed planning the following week, Tuesday, January 19th to be an evening gathering at The Castle Hill Inn from 4-6. Please confirm this, as well, so we can plan ahead for some wine and hors d'oeuvres!

Feel free to bring any newcomers interested in seeing what our group is all about.

As some of us attempted to focus on making journals, we found ourselves easily and excitedly distracted by all the exchanges going on! If you want to make your own journal I think this is one of the best tutorials for how to make a coptic bound journal. Leslie made journals with her mom over the holidays, and below is the lovely one she produced with it’s tea-stained pages:

Meredith showed us her awesome journal with all her collage work, and told us about Kara Bullock’s new online faces and portraits course. Check it out. It goes on all year.  I’m considering signing on as it seems to be a very fair price ($125), and a good way for me to get the discipline I need to explore new styles. Danny Gregory is starting a new online class, as well, called Expressing which begins on January 15th.

Portraits seem to be the buzz right now. I received the weekly journal review from Sandy Bernat, a very talented paper artist on Marthas Vineyard, who hosts a group like ours, and their focus was on portraits. They were discussing the artist Amadeus Clemente Modigliani(1884-1920). His portraits were known for their elongated forms, linear qualities and earthy tones.




Sandy’s group used the following instructions to create their own Modigliani inspired watercolor sketches. If you have time this week give your own Modigliani style portrait a try:

1.Beginning with a pencil, draw a U-shaped curved line in the middle of your paper.

2.Draw some hair.

3.Draw almond-shaped eyes and an L-shaped or U-shaped nose.

4.Draw a mouth.

5.Draw two lines for the neck(if you are close to the bottom of the page extend the lines off the page). Add shoulders and a collar.

6.Add several lines in the background to place your figure in an environment. They only need to suggest windows, doors and the like.

7.Paint with watercolors and use lots of water and work in layers.

We passed around Maira Kalman’s books, "Beloved Dog" and "My Favorite Things". I love her style, very simple and bold. Watch a short video about Maira to get to know her work. Try drawing your favorite sweater in your interpretation of the Maira Kalman style:

Meredith discussed the practical aspect of limiting your art tools. By keeping your supplies simple and readily accessible you will less likely become overwhelmed and more likely create.  Create a page in your journals displaying your favorite art tools and share them with us. Meredith showed us her new Pentel color brushes that are pretty cool. This is an old drawing of one of my many travel paint sets. The paints aren’t top quality, but this set with the water brush is still one of my most accessible and favorite go to art tools:

Kim spoke to us about an artist who inspired her with an awareness of collecting images from out of magazines or from photographs or anywhere…as a way to awaken ourselves to the kinds of things that catch our eye and spur our emotions and creativity. Kim suggested the possibilities of recreating our images into our journals but in an abstract way. The simple drawings can become remembrances of moments that caught our attention. 


Thanks Kim for always bringing your thoughtful and inquiring discoveries to our attention!


Remain aware of what moves you tho next week, and either make a list of the things, or if you have time create symbolic drawings in your journal. 

A Year of Being Here, the daily mindfulness poetry project is now concluded. I’ll miss my daily mindfulness poem. The project curator, Phyllis Cole-Dai, leaves us with her verse "ON HOW TO PICK AND EAT POEMS", as well as these closing words: 

"If you enjoy the taste of the wild berries I’ve picked, grab a pail of your own and head for light. That’s where these poems grow; there, and in the dappled dark of the woods. You’ll have a fine time, searching for them amongst the bushes and the brambles, so long as you go slow and watch out for thorns and bears". ⎯ phyllis cole-dai (project curator)

Leslie read "For Grief" one of the final poems by John O’Donohue to us:

For Grief

When you loose someone you love,

Your life becomes strange

The ground beneath you gets fragile,

Your thoughts make your eyes unsure;

And some dead echo drags your voice down

Where words have no confidence.


Your heart has grown heavy with loss

And though this loss has wounded others too,

No one knows what has been taken from you

When the silence of absence deepens.


Flickers of guilt kindle regret

For all that was left unsaid or undone.


There are days when you wake up happy;

Again inside the fullness of life,

Until the moment breaks

And you are thrown back

Onto the black tide of loss.


Days when you have your heart back,

You are able to function well

Until in the middle of work or encounter,

Suddenly with no warning,

You are ambushed by grief.


It becomes hard to trust yourself.

All you can depend on now is that

Sorrow will remain faithful to itself.

More than you, it knows its way

And will find the right time

To pull and pull the rope of grief

Until that coiled hill of tears

Has reduced to its last drop. 


Gradually, you will learn acquaintance

With the invisible form of your departed;

And, when the work of grief is done,

The wound of loss will heal

And you will have learned to wean your eyes

From that gap in the air

And be able to enter the hearth

In your soul where your loved one

Has awaited your return

All the time.

One last thing we talked about was using gesso or paints in collaging pages. Kim applied white acrylic paint to paper bags, and by using the negative space technique created wonderful gift bags for the holidays:


Remember to  let me know if Tuesdays will work for you. Our next gathering is scheduled for Tuesday, the 13th, 2-4


What moves you?

Draw a sweater, really simplified, using bold colors

Paint a Modigliani portrait

Draw your favorite art tools


Keep creating and filling your journals !!!

xxx’s Barb