Why are my reviews never bad?

Have you noticed my reviews are pretty favorable?
I usually am not compensated for my reviews. Jetpens.com  sent me a Stabilo Point .88 Fineliner and a Fisher Space Pen to review, and I reviewed them both (I should reblog the space pen, that was a fun test). I liked them. I have also been sent some scrapbook supplies for blog hops or guest post. However, I am usually reviewing something I have chosen and purchased on my own. How can you, my reader, tell? I always mention if something has been provided. I believe in transparency, so no glowing reviews for something just because it was free.

The thing is, since I purchase most of what I review, I pretty much like it. I am particular, and I do a certain amount of research before I purchase supplies. For the most part, I am moderately satisfied with things I choose, which is why I mostly rate between a 3-5.

There is the occasional purchase I end up loathing. The Sharpie Liquid Pencil was one. I could erase the ink with my finger, so if I moved my hand across the page, any marks were gone.  Useless pen. I didn't review it. It's junk, and I feel mean saying it because I've been a Sharpie fan forever.

Have you noticed I like links?
I link to things I am talking about, or things I like. They are not affiliate links (links where the blogger gets paid for click-throughs). The links are there because I am forever opening another window to Google a product or idea someone is discussing.

I link to stores that have provided me with good customer service, and that I frequent. I give them my money, I like them, and I want them to stay in business so I can keep giving them my money. I link Jetpens.com constantly, I also love highlighting my local hangouts.

I also like to give credit. If I reinterpret, steal, or borrow your idea intentionally, I will link to you and give credit. Sometimes, I like to post what I am looking at for inspiration. Those links are starting points in my thought process. I make a judgment call based on the process I use to create the item.  I feel transparency is respect.

I hope this helps you understand how I review, link and credit .


Product Review: Pilot Petit 1 Fine Nib Blue Black Ink

I have been playing with fountain pens since I picked up a Varsity pen at Olyphant Art Supply in Olympia, WA.  I like the way fountain pens look when I am journaling. I also like the way I feel particularly sophisticated when I use a fountain pen.

The Pilot Petit 1 is part of a collection that includes fountain, sign, and brush pens in eight colors. I chose the blue-black because I enjoy having unique pen colors for mundane tasks, but find that for some reason, the grown up world does not look upon purple as an appropriate choice of ink.

The pen is small and compact, and refillable.  I liked the blue black ink, as it was dark, but with a cool greyish feel that would look good on manila or antique paper.

The nib is sturdy, and it glides nicely over paper.  The pen itself is light, and has a clear body that allows you to see how much ink is left in the cartridge.  There is minimal bleed through and the Pilot Petit does well with both larger and smaller print.

The ink is advertised to be smudge free, but I am clumsy and managed to smudge the ink on the test page twice, so if you are a left-handed writer, this may pose a problem for you.

Clear Body
Under $4

Ink smudged in my test
Slight bleed through

Overall, I rate this a 3/5, and would use this for general writing, or journaling.

Who doesn't need a reminder that life is sweet sometimes?  I have been lucky to have people in my life to remind me that life is sweet. Sometimes, life doesn't always seem so lovely, and it is do easy to get bogged down in the things that are upsetting, depressing, or just uninspiring. 

My biggest cheerleaders are my dear husband, my beautiful girls, and my very best friend, Heather.  Each of them have brightened a dark day for me at some point, and I am so grateful to all of them for helping me to see the bright side of things, and to remember to spend time working on things I love.  So, what makes your life sweet? What makes you smile?

This little card is Jillibean Soup. I love roses on anything.  So, I adore the blue paper on this card.

Roses for Monday

I have been playing with line and contour lately. My inspiration is Art Deco designs from the 1920's and these really large contrast paintings that were on the wall of my high school that had to have been painted in the late 1970's or early 1980's. I find Art Deco designs gorgeous, and the contrast paintings at my high school, I'll abide by not saying anything if I can't be nice.

It is fascinating how line and contrast interact. I have many pre-sketches of this work, and subtle differences in each bring a different feel to the image. Sorting out ideas in a sketchbook helped me put together the elements. I'm working on a post about how I use sketchbooks in art and scrapbooking later this week.


Stabilo Point .88 Fineliner
Bristol Paper

Essay: My journey as an artist

I am an artist. Simple as the sentence may be, it encompasses years of my internal struggle. As a child, I was an artist, and I didn’t see it. Like many children, I enjoyed drawing, painting, and coloring. I was always making something. Recently, my mother told me about how I would enter every poster contest in elementary school, place, and earn a ribbon every single time. She said it got to the point it was a joke between the adults in the PTA. I remember making the posters, but I don’t remember winning, and was shocked that I was getting recognition at an early age. Similarly, my parents always told me how much talent I have, and I discounted it until I went through a bin of work from elementary school, and I saw the details of the drawings I made. My jaded adult-self had to admit there was clear talent in those early pictures. Frankly, I am probably one of the few people on the planet who disappointed their parents by not going to art school.

In high school, I was an artist, and I didn’t see it. I kept sketches, and drawings, and read about art and artists. Saturdays were oil painting classes, and I would spend hours in a run-down recreation center enjoying painting with adults twice my age. I had a full arsenal of supplies, and I used them regularly. I would paint en plein air with my mentor, a local artist, who somehow found the grace to encourage a learning artist, allowing me to follow him about painting landscapes in local parks. My first boyfriend dumped me, and as a mollifying statement said, “I’m sorry, but you’re going to be a great artist one day.” My second boyfriend dumped me, and contritely said “I’d still like to see your gallery opening one day.” In intense moments of teenage love and angst, in the process of hurting me, those closest to me avowed my standing as an artist, and I didn’t believe them. Being told I was an artist felt like a consolation prize. I minimized the fact that in ending relationships, those leaving felt it important to affirm my art.

In college, I was an artist and didn’t see it. I took ceramics, painting, drawing, art history, numerous art and culture courses, art and censorship, and anything remotely related to art. I interned at Tacoma Art Museum. I had sketchbooks, and a portfolio. I desperately wanted to study graphic design, but I didn’t. I allowed fear to rule my decisions. I convinced myself  that I wouldn’t make it. Meanwhile, I drew pictures of my first “real” love as we sat on the couch watching TV. Our romance was unpredictable and tenuous. In one of our many intense arguments leading to an off-again in our relationship, he gave me the apologetic “I know you’re going to be a great artist one day.”

As an adult, I continued to create, research, and view art, and took up scrapbooking as a hobby. Creating things was as much a part of my life as work, raising my daughter, or making dinner. Despite life surrounding me with friendships changing or ending, illness, death, and the burden of maturity, I was an artist, and I didn’t see it.

My world crashed around me at my daughter’s 3-year well-child visit. The pediatrician noted her behavior, and in a serious tone he had never used with me, asked “You know that’s not normal, right?” For three years, I adored my opinionated, sensitive, fragile daughter and her long outbursts and screaming fits. As an infant, her first night home, someone sneezed, and she screamed. Every time someone coughed or sneezed, she screamed. She hated taking off her coat, she loved wearing her Tigger costume, even though it was 90 degrees outside and August. For three years, I adapted to her needs. In rare instances, her fits scared me; the doctor in the emergency room sent me home with a printed handout about how to deal with a fussy child, which made me feel stupid. Suddenly, behavior that I had become accustomed to as normal was not, and my perfect little girl, wasn’t. My heart broke, my soul withered, and I went into a deep depression. For once in my life, I was no longer an artist. Beginning that day, everything sat untouched.

Depression took its toll. My life fell apart, I lost myself. Eventually, I got help, and things slowly got better.  I divorced. I remarried. My daughter, diagnosed with Sensory Integration Disorder, responded well to occupational therapy. She entered Kindergarten and exceled, she was an amazing big sister to her new little sister, and she exited therapy. Art was out of my life.

Over wine one evening, a friend, who had known me for 15 years, realized I hadn’t made anything as we were conversing about losing ourselves, pondering whether midlife crises ever happened in one’s thirties. She asked, “Are you serious? I can’t remember a time when you weren’t creating.” Her face darkened with the realization of how far astray we had wandered from ourselves. Despite clarity, nothing changed.

On a summer’s day, Heather, who is also an artist, shoved paper and glue at me, pulled up a scrapbook sketch, and told me to make something. As soon as I finished, she made me post the layout online, and share with a Facebook group for commenting. With that, I began to create. Scrapbooking became collage, collage became altered art, and altered art became mixed media, which brought me back to drawing and painting. I started a blog, and I started studying contemporary designers and artists. I still never dared to call myself an artist, despite others pointing out that I am.

I longed to be an artist. I kept reading, hoping to learn and became inspired. I found insight in “Linchpin”, “Ignore Everybody” and “Steal Like an Artist”. One night, I thought about the definition of artist. In my mind, artist indicated fame, even though I knew many artists were not famous or even understood in their time. I had a romanticized vision of an artist having a studio, and attending their gallery openings sipping flutes of champagne. I considered this, and some realizations became apparent.

I have a studio. Well, maybe I don’t have a studio, but I have a house, and my art is important enough to have space for work and supplies in the corner of the living area full time. Granted, I share the table space with my girls. They color and play at the table, and I create at the table. My dining room table is a mess of crayon marks, dried glue, dried paint, stickers, and pen marks created equally by my girls and me. It looks awful, and I love it. When I entertain, I cover the evidence with a tablecloth, and put the supplies away more orderly.  Mainly, it is the area where we create: a shared studio.

I don’t have showings, and I am not famous. Honestly, not admitting that I was an artist kept me from pursuing the chance to show work. The non-existent credential that I thought needed to be a real artist and participate in the art world was a barrier set up by my mind. Granted, I need to learn how to navigate the world of showings, but I also need to look at the resources I have around me, and just do the work. I need to follow up on the Art Walk showing that I offered to me last spring for this year.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized I am an artist, and that I could say it, unapologetically. The only person I ever needed to justify anything to was myself. My whole adult life, I have kept myself from it. I am enough, and I am an artist. This revelation brought a surge of joy.  

Still, I looked for validation. I texted my friend. “Am I an artist?” Heather is a friend that will hold no punches when a real question is asked. She is also an artist.

This text conversation confirmed everything. First, I am a dumbass. For years, I have had affirmation that I am an artist, and I didn’t see it. Second, I have let fear drive my ambitions. What I haven’t done has always come from a fear of not being enough. I saw Heather that night, and we chatted a little about my revelations. “I thought if I called myself an artist that I would be saying I was like artists like Picasso, Matisse, or Michelangelo.” I explained.  Heather looked at me, “You’re nothing like them, you’re like you.”

I learned from my depression that the mind makes things real that are not. As much as I had learned, I didn’t notice the negative self-talk that I addressed during my depression had always been a part of my perception of myself as an artist. I understand that now, and it has changed everything.

I am Venetia, I am an artist, and I can see it. One day, you can come to my showing and sip champagne in a flute with me. I know I am going to have one, and I know it is going to be great.






13 for 13- Book 1 "The Happiness Project"

One of my 13 for 13 goals is to read 12 books in 2013.  So far, I have read two. I started with  The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin.  I read this book because my "One Little Word" (concept developed by Ali Edwards), is Joy, and I thought a book about developing a happiness project would be an excellent start.  

13 for 13- Book 2 "Steal Like an Artist"

This is a review of the second book I have finished as part of my 13 for 13 list. I started with this book because it lit a fire within my soul.

Steal Like an Artist” by Austin Kleon has been sitting in my bookcase for months. I ordered it from Amazon last spring in the hopes of gaining some inspiration. Like many of my good intentions, I didn’t really follow through on reading it until this weekend, and I am wondering why I put off something that would so deeply resonate with me, that I so deeply needed for so long.

Rose Pendants

I didn't realize I was interested in making jewelry until I went to CKC in Seattle, and saw the booth for Craft Fantastic doing a make and take. I have a soft spot for decoupage and collage, so making altered tray pendants seemed like a natural fit. 

Inspiration from Pinterest- Motivational Poster

Like many of us, I browse Pinterest.  I don't usually make what I see, but this project was perfect for my office.  I have hyperlinked the image to what I reasonably believe is the original artist, Amy Rice's,  Etsy store.  I believe in giving credit when credit is due, and Amy's piece was the clear inspiration for my interpretation. She uses a letterpress on antique atlas pages for her unique creations.

 For my version, I used an older, but not antique folded car map of my home state and cut it to a 16x 20 canvas size. I used pen to draw the letters, and then decoupaged the map to the canvas, which gives is a slight sheen in the light.  


Stablio Point 88 Fine Tip 0.4

Stablio Point 88 Fine tip 0.4

The Stablio Point 88 from JetPens.com is a great little workhorse for the price… less than $1. The Point 88 has a smooth line that writes well on the tip, but not as well if you angle the pen much (about 75 degrees from the paper).  Expect a solid fine line, and surprising versatility in the line width. 

The pen performs well with both large and small print, and is appropriate for both general writing and pen sketching.  I would hesitate to use the point 88 as a pen with any sort of watercolor wash, as it is a water-based ink, and will smudge slightly if wet.  There is no smudging with normal use. The pen does bleed through on normal weight paper, especially when building up color. I would caution anyone who needs to work on both sides of a paper.

The pen is light, and has a hexagon shaped barrel that feels like a pencil.  This is a good choice for ruler or stencil work, as the tip is protected in a metal case.  I accidentally left the pen out for quite a few hours, and the tip did not dry out.  The pen also withstood the preschooler test, which involves a sort of write/pound/scribble gauntlet. The tip did not demolish after the preschooler test, which comparable pens like the Sharpie do not survive (RIP brand new red Sharpie).

Overall, at $.88, this is a great little everyday pen. I recommend this for people who love or need a bold line. If you are one of those organizational wizards who like to color-code everything, the point 88 comes in 25 different colors. If you forget your caps, or lose them like I do, the point 88 is a very forgiving pen. For scrapbooking, cardmaking, art journaling, or drawing, this is a solid choice, due to the lighfastness of the ink. The pen does not make claims to be acid free, and I am not suggesting it is.

Overall Rating 4/5

This pen was provided for review by JetPens.com


Valentine's Ideas- Decor

 I thought I would reshare some of my favorite Valentine's themed projects in the weeks leading up to the holiday, starting with the Kissing ball (or pomador) I made last year.  This is one of those projects that look amazing, is super simple to create, but consumes massive amounts of time.  I enjoyed making this, and I think that my 8 year old would be able to do this craft this year if we wanted to make special presents.

Styrofoam Form (could be a different shape)
Floral pins
Flower Shaped punches
Punch enough flowers to cover your shape well, and pin them onto your form.  It took about 300 for this 6in round ball, and I had double flowers, so it really was 600, but the flowers were about the size of a dime, so larger flowers would cover it quickly, which is what I would do if I were making this with the little one. As you can see above, shaping the flowers after you have covered the ball adds some gorgeous dimension and depth to the piece.

Finished Sandy Hook Project

Remember this sketch? I started this sketch after the Sandy Hook shootings, as I thought about the families of the victims. Eventually, the sketch turned into a colored pencil drawing, which I incorporated into a collage.  I am sharing this with you because  a piece that was born out of a reaction so many of us had.
Creating this was a way for me to reflect upon my thoughts about the incident, and the lives lost that day.  I wish nothing but comfort and love to the Newtown community, and the relatives and friends of those impacted by the event. 

I am not explaining the piece; it should speak for itself, because it grew from an event for which there are no words.


Altered Canvas-re look

 I find myself using a lot of hearts in my art. This canvas was a gift last Valentine's day for my husband. 

I painted the canvas with acrylic paint to get a subtle background.  I used Authentique papers for the heart element, and sketched on them to create the name banner.

I like the mix of elements on this piece, and it has happily lived in our dining nook since last year.

Paper- Authentique Journey
Paint- Daniel Smith Acrylic
Ribbon: May Art

Sketchbook share

I love contour drawing, it is a comfortable place for me.  I have managed to spend far less time with shading. Portraiture is especially not a comfort area for me.  I  intentionally spend sketch time to explore the human face, and to explore the use of shading and tone to express the essence of a person.  This sketch is of the squishy face my youngest gives me.  The sketch is imperfect, but it definitely is catching the moment. 
That is the thing about sketchbooks, taking time to play with techniques and ideas in a manner that is not intended to become a final project gives a freedom. I do this often with layout ideas, colors, drawings, and other media techniques.
I hope you like seeing the process part of some of my creative journey.  Please share your ideas too in the comments!

Product Review- Collage Pauge Instant Decoupage by Aleene's

My absolute favorite collage material is Collage Pauge Instant Decoupage from Aleene's.  I picked this up one day at  Artco, which is my favorite local (5 miles or less) craft store.

I bought this one day when Artco was doing free demonstrations.  They had a magnet making workshop, and the employee let my 6 year old sit there and glue paper to glass with this stuff for what seemed like an hour.  When we left, she begged me to buy stuff to buy more, and of course I had to buy the glue that the lady used because my daughter is literal, and if the lady used it, then this must be the only kind that would work.

I bought a 16 oz bottle, which was over a year ago and still have plenty left, after making magnets, canvases, altered items, plaques, and more. I have been very impressed at how long this stuff lasts.

I purchased the glossy version, there are versions in matte, and the website says there is a sparkly option as well. This dries clear, and does not have that sticky feeling that some products have even when dry.  The texture is thick, and it has a greenish purplish cast when it is wet, but that goes away after drying.  I've managed to get this stuff to stick to paper, wood, canvas, plastic, glass, and cardboard. Once dry, this is pretty durable stuff.  I can't get this off my kitchen table, which is also the craft table, and kids table, so the whole thing is pretty much a mess with stickers, collage pauge, acrylic paint, markers and whatever else. Thank goodness for tablecloths!

 I have not had problems with this bubbling, and it seems to level itself as it dries, so paper I adhere has warped wet, and then dried flat.

I had to google the lady on the front to see who she is, because I had no idea. Traci Bautista is a mixed media artist with a bright and eclectic style.  According to the Aleene's site, Traci designed the art on the bottle. 

The only caution I can give for Collage Pauge is to test any ink you are using on scrap paper before you use the medium on it, as many inks such as pens and markers are picked up by this product despite being permanent or waterproof. If you test first, you know how it will react, and what to expect in your finished product.

My overall rating: 5/5

13 for 2013

Serious, yes?
This year, instead of resolutions, I am doing a 13 for 2013 list, and One Little Word.  Today, I am going to share my 13 for 2013 list.  I plan to check in at the first of each month and see how I am doing on my list.

13 goals for 2013-
Revamp my blog

Finish an art journal

Improve Calligraphy

Finish 24-50 projects

Create pendants

Visit at least 4 places on this list
-Neah Bay, WA
-Oregon Vortex, OR
-Lincoln City, OR
-San Juan Islands, WA
-Crater Lake, OR
-Snoqualmie Falls, WA
-Whidbey Island, WA
-Robot Hut, Elk, WA
-Wheeler, OR
-Any Weird WA location
-Oregon Coast
-Redwoods, CA

Make house feel inviting

Visit Art Walk 4x this year

Learn Adobe Creative Suite

Read one book a month (at least)

-Meal Planning
-Weekly Planning

Focus on health

Experiences (at least 3)
-Harbor Lights
-Spa Day
-Fancy Dinner
-Tiki Bar
-Watch meteor shower
-Go to beach
-Cabin in snow