Friday, October 25, 2013

mail art

I have had a little bit of time to do art in the midst of all the craziness and busyness.  

I'm making mail art invitations to my first ever art show!  This is so exciting.

It is going to be at Simon's Tavern in Chicago.  The bar is owned by my good friend, Scott.  He and I have known each other since we were probably 12 years old.  

I've been posting some of my viking art the past few months.  That is a taste of what will be there.  I cannot thank Scott enough for this opportunity.

Please stop by Simon's Tavern, in the Andersonville neighborhood, in December to have the best glögg in town.  He makes red and white glögg and it is so delicious.  Don't take my word for it.  You have to try it!

I have one more painting to go before I am done!

The cards above were inspired by Mindy Lacefield's online class, True Free Spirit.  This is a class I adore.

Have a great weekend.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Pumpkin Patch

Hi everyone!

Pumpkin Patch 2013, an annual, autumn, festival in the Village of Egg Harbor, WI, is here.  The local businesses put out some fabulous displays that they make with pumpkins and squash, among other things.  The photos below are of the display, done together, by Greens N Grains and Spa Verde.

The chicks above were done as a collaborative effort by Andi (from Spa Verde) and me.

This is our giant chicken with jumbo eggs made out of pumpkins, for "Egg" Harbor, of course!  Photo credit for this one goes to Kathleen of Spa Verde.

For a really fun tutorial on pumpkin painting, check out Alisa Burke's blog.  She has been painting pumpkins for years and they look super cool.

Have a great weekend.

Saturday, October 5, 2013


Hello everyone.  I'm so sorry to have been absent for so long.  Relocating to a new state has taken more time and energy than I had anticipated.  I just recently joined the wonderful Artful Readers Club, which is a reading group for artists.  And already I am falling behind.  I just realized now that there are official blogging dates.  I will catch up.

I did manage to do a sketch of Stephen King based on the title of the book.  I had every intention of doing a painting based on the sketch but I don't know when that will happen.

The rainbow is actually something I saw while driving across the country.  The image was stuck in my head.  We saw it while driving in Montana.  It does not relate to this book.

Yes, I need to do a review of the book too.  I am enjoying it.  I will post that in the next couple of days soon.  Thanks for being patient.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

I heart glögg

During the month of September I have been in the process relocating to Wisconsin.  Therefore, I haven't had the opportunity to do much art yet, but I did do 3 small, 6" x 6", mixed-media paintings recently.

The hearts in these paintings are based on Scandinavian woven hearts.

Glögg is a Scandinavian mulled wine which is popular around Christmastime.  

Thank you for stopping by.

Monday, September 2, 2013

John Cleese on creativity

Hi everyone.

I don't know if you're like me in that you like to learn about creativity.

I thought I'd post a video since I'm traveling.  I don't have a lot of art to share this week.  I hope you enjoy the video.

John Cleese - a lecture on Creativity from janalleman on Vimeo.

Sunday, September 1, 2013


Happy September everyone!

Lately I've had a tough time focusing on reading books.  I want to be painting and that makes it hard to find time to simply read.  That's why audio books are perfect for artists.  We can do both things at the same time.

When I was over at Tracy Moore's studio making an art journal, in his class, he said that he often listens to audio books while creating his journals.

Rhomany is a wonderful artist in the UK.  I've been watching some of her YouTube videos lately.  She has great art making videos.  I especially like her vlogs.  

In watching Rhomany's You Tube channel, I find that not only does she listen to audiobooks, but she's in a reading group for artists.  At first I thought they were all doing audio books but, apparently, that bit is optional. The group she's in  is called the Artful Readers Club.   They create art related to the book they're reading too.  Brilliant idea.  

(Update 09-02-13:  I find that it is NOT too late to join them.  I hope you will check out their club.  I just joined up.  It is run by Darcy and she has left a link in the comments!)

I took Rhomany's advice and bought Joyland by Stephen King, over at Audible.

I'll make Joyland my book for September.  I agree with Rhomany in that I dislike the cover art for this book.  Since it is Stephen King, it probably won't hurt his sales!

The next three books for me will be Bonehouse, The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, and Yes, Chef.  I'm not sure yet in which order I will read them.  Who knows, I might read more than one per month, but I'll start with this as my goal.

In addition to making a piece of art inspired by the book, I'll write a short review of the book and post it here on my blog, along with a photo of the art.

If you have any audiobooks to recommend, please leave me a comment!  I'm always looking for suggestions. 

Thanks for the inspiration, Rhomany!

Thanks for stopping by.  

Friday, August 30, 2013

Tropical Whimsy

An Instagram friend called this style Tropical Whimsy.  I love that description!

My boyfriend, Ben, is holding up a painting I painted last week.  I made it for my friend, Virginia, and her family, to give as a gift.  They came up with some very interesting and creative ideas for the components they wanted in the painting.  I would never have dreamed up a coconut scepter, for example.  But they did!  I thought that was so cool.  That is why it is so fun to collaborate!  Thanks Virginia!

Monday, August 26, 2013

the art of making a journal

I recently had the pleasure, and good fortune, of taking a class with artist, Tracy V. Moore.  Check out his blog here.

To read about another class he held recently in making journals, look here.  You will see some lovely photos of wonderful journals.

This is the journal I made in the workshop.

We made our own journals out of copper and leather.  I had no experience in book binding at all before this class.  I think I speak for all of us who took the class when I say we had a ton of fun.  We did not want the class to end.

This is my talented friend, Nicola.  I met her in the workshop!  A very fun thing about attending workshops is getting to meet some amazing artists.

This is the cool journal that Nicola made in class.  She used flattened pennies she had been collecting.   They made a really great embellishment.  I love the red thread with black leather.

We met in Tracy's awesome studio/workshop, where he taught us how to create a cool journal.  I'd seen many of his handmade journals in the past at ArtFest and other art retreats.  I knew, from having seen those, that he has some mad skills.  In addition to that, he's a great teacher and fun to hang out with!  He is also a wonderful journal artist.

I used a small metal piece, which I had made years ago in a jewelry/silversmithing class, as an embellishment on the journal.  It is a silver and copper flower.  

Tracy taught us how to make our own rivets to attach whatever we wanted to use as an embellishment.

Tracy has a bunch of fabulous power tools that were fun to try out too.  For example, he has a drill press, a power sander, and a power buffer, in addition to a lot of other wonderful stuff. 

I hammered the copper with a variety of hammers to create texture.  Then I applied some sapphire colored rub n' buff to add color to the recessed areas I had created with the hammering.  After letting the rub n' buff sit for a few minutes, I buffed it with the power buffer.  Then I buffed it some more with Scotch-Brite.  

We filled the book with pages made of Fabriano hot press watercolor paper.  It is going to be a lot of fun making art journal pages in this journal.

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

art trade

Last Sunday I was lucky to be able to hang out with my wonderful friends, Jenny and Violette.  Jenny and I drove up to Violette's magic cottage in Canada.  

We had planned to do an art trade, which turned out to be a lot of fun!

I made two pieces, one for each of them.  They are each 6" x 6".  Violette told me that she'd like a piece with Yoda on it and that turned out to be super cool to make.  I used some bright greens and blues and incorporated some of Daniel Smith's luminescent acrylic paint to give it a shimmer.

This is a photo of the Yoda piece on Violette's colorful coffee table.

The piece I made for Jenny, shown below, features a simple quote by Ray Bradbury.  "Creativity is a continual surprise."  As I think about it, I do like the surprise element.  I get surprised every time a make a piece of art.

You can see the paint-drip sides I did on Jenny's art piece.  I love doing this as a way to "frame" the piece.  I did the same on Violette's piece.

Jenny made us each a super fabulous, 3D collage in a shadow box.  Mine features UFO's and I just love it.  It is so me!  It is creative and unique, just like Jenny herself!

Below is a photo of the awesome shadow box Jenny made for Violette.  It is so cool!  I've never seen anything like Jenny's doodle, collage, dimensional shadow box. There are glittery parts too, that are hard to see in the photo.

Violette allowed us to choose art from her vast collection of funky and beautiful things.  I picked a "talking head" that says quirky and a cute little "freak" with a freak flag.  I felt those summed me up and I cannot wait to display them in my new home in Wisconsin.  She also gave each of us a Violette dog tag necklace, which I really love.

Violette did an interview with me on her blog.  You can read that here.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Douglas Adams

I took a break from my usual Viking art when I created this art piece for my friend, Bianca.  She requested a piece of my art that featured a quote by the late, but very talented author, Douglas Adams.  I love his book, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.  Comedy and science fiction make a great combination, it turns out.

I made a stencil of Douglas Adams, which I spray painted over with Montana Gold brand spray paint.  The background is mixed-media.

Friday, August 9, 2013


For this piece, I cut a Dean Martin stencil out of a manilla office file folder. Whenever I use spray paint I feel like a pseudo-street-artist and I like to do the piece sort of graffiti-like.  At least that is how I feel about it while I'm creating it.

The idea of adding silver leaf doodles came, in part, from reading Mati Rose's new book.  She likes to use silver leaf and I think that's something I can really get into more in the future.  The doodles are a definite nod to artist Keith Haring.  I used a silver leafing pen by Krylon.

The text in this piece, "your glögg has given me wings" is a parody of "your love has given me wings" which is a line in the Dean Martin version of the song, commonly called, Volare.  

Volare is an Italian word, which means "to fly".  

The story of how the song was written is quite interesting.  It was inspired by two paintings by Marc Chagall.  Go here to read about the background of the song.

There's a version of this song, which, incidentally, is not really named Volare, by the Gipsy Kings on You Tube, which you can see here.  The actual name of the song is "Nel blu dipinto di blu".  They give it a fun Latino groove.

I painted this art piece on a used board (previously it was building material), which I got at the Re-Store in Bellingham, WA.  It probably used to be a cabinet front.

The hearts with wings are a Scandinavian woven heart design.   They are collaged on elements.

Below is a video of the song, performed by the man who, along with a friend of his, wrote it.  This is on the Ed Sullivan show.  

Below is a video which shows the English translation of the original lyrics.  "Your love has given me wings" is not in the lyrics!  I've learned that the song was Americanized to contain those words.  In fact all the English words that Dean Martin sings in his version are not in the original song!

This Dean Martin painting is going to be part of the glögg collection at Simon's Tavern in Chicago.  It will be on display during glögg season, which is in the wintertime, around Christmas.

Thanks for stopping by my blog.

Saturday, July 6, 2013


I got myself some Fabriano stationery a few years ago and it is really a joy to paint on.  Once I paint these cards, I have some cool art that can easily be mailed out to friends.  The cards are high quality watercolor paper.  I have used watercolor paints on them many times.  But in this case, with these cards, I focused mainly on acrylic paint and inks, though they are mixed media.  The envelopes for the Fabriano cards are made of a different paper, but they are also paintable.

It is a great way to loosen up and try out some new color combos and try art ideas and tools.  I was just playing.  I feel less pressure doing these than when I am making a painting, say.  I can mess one up and just throw it out.  I like the sense of freedom.

If you don't feel like mailing them out, they're easy to tuck into your art journal too.  You could make some notes on the back, regarding favorite color combos and just what you used on a given card.  

Monday, July 1, 2013

Caution, may cause happiness

I tried a couple of different, for me, art supplies on this mixed media painting, which I call "Caution, may cause happiness".  The text on the piece, glögg is the drug, is a parody of the lyrics to a song by Roxy Music, Love is the Drug.  Video is at the end of the post.

The majority of this painting was done with acrylic paint.  The outline of the bottle I did with a blue Stabillo pencil. I like how it looks.  Almost crayon-like, but a thinner line.

I got in the Swedish flag element, which I try to incorporate into every Viking piece, in the letter g in the word Drug.  This bottle is supposed to be a hybrid of a bottle of glögg and a prescription bottle.

Because I wanted to have a dripping paint look on the sides of the painting, and I didn't like how it was going with acrylic paint, I went out and got some Daniel Smith watercolor ground so I could do my drips with watercolor paint.  I applied the ground like one would apply gesso.  It primes the surface to accept water-soluble media.  I used Daniel Smith watercolor paints, which are my favorites, for the paint drips.  I like the way it turned out.  

The thing I really wanted to try the most was Dorland's wax medium as a sealer.  I learned about it from Juliette Crane in her class, How to Paint an Owl 2.  She has a special process of sealing her art that I replicated as closely as I could.  It turned out great.  It gives the painting an almost, soft-focus feel, as the wax is translucent. Her technique is a 3-step process, the last of which is application of the wax medium.  

It takes longer than just spraying the piece with varnish, which is what I had been doing on my previous pieces.  I think the result with the wax is worth the time and effort.  If you have not tried it, you may want to consider it.  You do have to let the wax medium cure for several days. It's not for you if you're in a hurry.

Because it is a matte finish you cannot put metallic paint or glitter under it because you will lose the qualities that make those things sparkle.  I miss that.  I love glitter.  For this reason, I will not use it on all my art.

This art piece I made for my good friend Scott Martin, owner of Simon's Tavern.  He was nice enough to buy a series of paintings from me.  If you're in or near Chicago, check out his bar.  It's a whole lot of fun.  I wrote about it here.

Thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

blue beard

There's a hair salon next to the art supply store, here in Bellingham, and it gave me the idea of Ben dying his beard a fun color.  We bought some temporary color chalk.  I did use a couple of apps to amp up the color in the photo.  Taking art beyond the canvas today.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

art friends

Today I thought I would share with you, links to 2 of my art friends.  I'll introduce more artists, in later posts.

The first artist I would like to introduce is my wonderful friend Mindy Lacefield.  You may know her online as Tim's Sally.  I'm in Mindy's online workshop, True Free Spirit !  It's so fabulous to be in this class.  There's a new project from Mindy each month.  I love the surprise element inherent in waiting to see what the next monthly project will be.  Playing her videos, while I paint, is like having an art buddy right here in my studio.

This piece is called "Stuart".  I bought it from Mindy at an art retreat named PLAY, in 2012.

I had the good fortune of taking a couple of live classes with Mindy (at ArtFest) as well.  Boy, have I been lucky!!  I would absolutely not be where I am today, artistically, if not for Mindy.  Her classes have been so joyful, instructive, and inspiring.  Just the perfect combination of what I never even knew I needed, to find my voice.  I'm not exaggerating when I tell you how influential she has been in my life!  I'm in love with Mindy's art and with Mindy's own true free spirit.

Additionally, I'm currently taking an online class with another artist, Juliette Crane and I love it too.  She has so many cool videos and so much instruction in this class, named How to Paint an Owl 2.  It's just brimming with information.  I've learned so much from Juliette.

I'm a lot more free with my backgrounds now.  I have loosened up.  And I only signed up for Juliette's class a few weeks ago!   I have a ways to go with loosening up, but I'm getting there.  And I haven't even painted an owl yet!  When I do, I will post it here on my blog.

Both Juliette and Mindy are lovely, generous, women who will guide you to a new place with your art.  It's worth going on this journey with them.  By the way, their classes complement one another really well.  You could take one or the other, for sure.  But I'm glad I took both of them.

With Mindy and Juliette, I've discovered tons of new art supplies.  Just when I thought I had seen it all... nope, I have not.

I know you will be just as enthusiastic, should you decide to take any classes with either of them, whether online or at a retreat.  The best part is both Juliette and Mindy have new classes coming out too.  In case you are hungry for even more.  I have a feeling you will be.

I have links to their classes in the right hand margin.

Friday, June 28, 2013

antique art supplies

A few months ago, my boyfriend, Ben, was looking around on Craigslist, which he loves to do on any given day.  We had just gotten into watching American Pickers and we got the itch to find some antique treasures, like they do on the show.

Ben found an antique stencil making machine for sale on Craigslist.  

Ben thought it might be something I would like, so we answered the ad and went over to see it.  It looked funky and cool and old, like a rusted treasure, and we decided to buy it.  Sure enough, I've used it several times to add elements to my art pieces.  In fact, I used it to create my blog banner.

Another time we went to a used building supply store called the Re-Store.  Ben asked the gentleman in the front of the store if they had any drafting tables.  As luck would have it, they had one recently brought in, and it was lighted to boot!  It didn't take us long to decide that we would buy that.  We can use it as a light table or just a desk.

Another thing I buy, occasionally, at the Re-Store is used, building material that I use for art substrates; boards to paint on.  I guess you could say that I up-cycle them.  It's cheaper than buying boards at the art store and the shapes are usually more fun and unique.

When Ben and I went to an antique store in Port Angeles, WA, we found some rusted letters.  I got the letters to spell the word glögg, since that is what my recent art pieces have been about.  It was cool to screw them onto one of my up-cycled boards to create a fun art piece.  The letters are on my Pee Wee Herman painting.  To see that, look at my blog post here.  You will notice that I also used the stencil machine for some of the words on this mixed media piece.

In summary, I would like to say that I enjoy looking for art supplies in unusual places.  I like to go out and find unique things that reflect my eccentric side.  I'm lucky in that my partner has a really good eye for antiques! This is Ben.  Thanks, Ben, for finding some awesome antique art supplies for my art projects!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Looking for a sign?

Why make art?  That is something I can only answer from my own perspective.  I like it because it allows me to flex my creative muscles.  Sometimes, someone I know will need a sign.  I take on the challenge of making it for them.  It sort of gives a purpose to my art.  The one shown above was created for a healthcare provider.

When I make a sign for something, or someone, in particular, I get to take out some art supplies and play, within a set of parameters.  That makes my art time have a framework.  In the above example, I knew the four letters I was going to make.  S-A-L-E.  I knew it was going to have a holiday theme.  Then I worked, within those limitations, and it became more of a creative puzzle to solve than if I had sat down at the art table with no direction at all.

Interestingly, after I wrote out this idea, I opened a book by Bert Dodson.  He said almost the same thing.  He says he did not like it when he was a child and the teacher would say to draw whatever you want.  His mind came up blank.  He prefers some constraints because those will activate the imagination.  That was my feeling about it as well!  The book is called Keys to Drawing with Imagination.  I just started it, but I can already tell it is going to be good.

If I am working at a job I love, I am much more apt to make pretty signs for my workplace.  Just because.  I'm feeling happy and I am in the zone.

With this piece I made the times on separate pieces so they could be changed to accommodate the changeable hours of the cafe.  The arrow points to the cafe entrance.

Next time you hear someone say they could really use a sign for this or that, seize the opportunity to make some art for them.

If you need or want an art sign, leave me a comment.  They are affordable!  I obviously love to make them.  I especially like making signs for small, independent, businesses.  Little cafes, health food stores, juice bars, bookstores, taverns, tea shops, etc.  I can do many different languages (with your help) and I can ship worldwide.  I would love the opportunity.

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

pop art

Mixed-media Pee Wee Herman painting.  Here I worked on up-cycled building material as my substrate.  I included things like vintage colorforms in the upper left and metal letters, screwed into the wood.

Lately I've been including pop culture references in my art.  It began when my good friend and former high school pal, Scott Martin, asked me to do a series of paintings for his bar, which is called Simon's Tavern. (The original owner was named Simon, in case you wondered.)  

A few months ago, I happened to make a funny art piece on glögg.  I sent Scott a photo of it, just for fun.  It was something he wanted to see more of.  He has always appreciated comedy, once studying at Chicago's famed Second City.  I can vouch for his status as class clown in high school. 

That first piece I did featured a parody lyric, "You might as well face it, you're addicted to glögg."  I had not planned to do any more.  It was a joke because I was drinking glögg with friends while I was painting it.  I was just kind of passing the time.

When Scott told me he wanted more paintings along this line, it got my creative juices flowing.  Glögg-ifying song lyrics was a blast.  I couldn't write them down fast enough.  Then trying to turn those ideas into paintings was another piece of a fun puzzle.  

How can I tie in some kind of visual, with a funny viking, that goes with the gag line?  They started out as parodies of lyrics, but eventually I moved into TV shows.  I'm working on pieces that are movie-themed as well.  I have an idea for a future piece that will merge sports and TV, with glögg of course!  Always with glögg!

I was going for a bit of a graffiti-style with this Johnny Cash inspired painting.

Thus my art has moved into comedic, pop-art, which I love.  I think I'm something of a closet comedian anyway.  This gives me a way to let that side of me out.  I aspire to be a Swedish Weird Al meets Andy Warhol. There's a combo for ya.

Incidentally, the Pee Wee piece is not part of the Simon's collection, while the Viking Named Sue piece is part of it.

Ira Glass on creativity

I was talking about Ira Glass's comments on creativity with a friend of mine recently. So I decided to post one version of his insightful comments here. I think what he says is really important.  This short video was made by Kayla Shelley.  She did a great job with it.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

nose ring bunny

Here is a bunny painting I did a while back.  I gave him a nose ring, which was inspired by the recipient of the piece.  He has a nose ring too!  I suppose the doodles on the body could be viewed as body art.  I think that makes him a true Pacific Northwest bunny.

Saturday, June 15, 2013


This is one of my first Viking paintings.  The Swedish sun glasses are based on the ones you see in the photo. It's hard to see, but Ben (shown below) is wearing glasses that have a Swedish flag design on the lens.  I intentionally gave the painting a Big Lebowski look.  It is interesting for me to see this piece now, because I did it about 4 months ago.  I look at it today, with different eyes. I would not paint is like this today.  It makes me wonder how my work will evolve in another 4 months.  Or another four years for that matter. 

Friday, June 14, 2013

Outta This World

Here is another piece I did for Simon's Tavern in Chicago.  For more on Simon's Tavern, click here to read my previous post.  I've been making a series of mixed-media paintings for my friend, and owner of Simon's Tavern, Scott Martin.  Most of the pieces, so far, are parodies of song lyrics.  This one is a parody of "Long Train Running" by the Doobie Brothers.  Click here to listen to that song on You Tube.

Thursday, June 13, 2013


This is a piece I did for a good friend of mine.  It is her pet, Spuzz!  My buddy, Jess, and her pup, Spuzz, live in the Scandinavian neighborhood, Ballard, in Seattle.  So I gave Spuzz one of my artsy Viking helmets.  

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Crash Test Dummies

Hi guys.  I recently remembered how much the Crash Test Dummies inspired me back in the 90s. I found this interview and I thought it would be cool to share that here.  I hope you enjoy.

There was something about the Crash Test Dummies that always captivated me. I wanted to figure out a way to have a creative life like the one they were living.  It's hard to explain. It was kind of a turning point in my life. Anyway, I wanted to highlight them here. Because lead singer, Brad Roberts, inspired me to be an artist, in whatever form.  Thank you Brad.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

It's time for glögg slushies at Simon's

Hi everybody.  I've been busy making art for Simon's Tavern in Chicago. This is one of nine paintings in my ever growing glögg series. 

What is glögg?  Go here to see. 

Scott Martin, the bar owner, makes glögg slushies, his own invention, in the summer.  Glögg is traditionally a Christmas drink. But it's not only for Christmas at Simon's. If you're in Chicago, be sure to stop in for a one-of-a-kind glögg slushy. Even if it's not time for glögg slushies, go anyway because it's a fabulous, friendly, and fun neighborhood bar.

Here's an awesome video about some of the history of Simon's Tavern, as told by Scott.  Simon's Tavern is in the historic Andersonville Swedish neighborhood in Chicago, IL.

Simon's Tavern was featured on Anthony Bourdain's show, The Layover. See that video here. Anthony says, "This place has got it."

My art piece up at the top, with the parrot, is a parody of Margaritaville by Jimmy Buffet.  At Simon's you will be nibbling, not on spongecake, but rather on pepparkakor, Swedish ginger cookies.  If Jimmy Buffet had tried 
glögg slushies, he would likely be booking his next trip to Andersonville rather than Margaritaville.