Saturday, December 31, 2011

Let's Wrap This Up.

Hey guys!  

I haven't been making as much art as usual in the last couple of months, but I'd love to show you what I DID manage to finish.  Wanna see?  

This little guy is an ATC.  It's a little 2 1/2" x 3 1/2" card, made from some very soft watercolour paper. The little critter is a Blue-Footed Booby. I did him for a swap I was involved in, and he's off in the mail to someone in the US. Safe travels, little buddy!

I waited for what seemed like FOREVER for Jill Berry's new book about maps to come out, and it was worth the wait. I've had a map obsession for years, and now I'm actually starting to make some maps on my own. I started with this phrenology doodle in one of my art journals: 

You might see more noggins in my work. I liked being able to pin down everything that was floating around my head and causing me to procrastinate. 

I had so much fun making this. I actually got out my compass and ruler and spent a very peaceful evening creating this from scratch on watercolour paper. Then I used an X-acto knife to cut out all the blank areas. The page is now mounted on vellum, which is that cloudy white behind the compass rose. I have lots of ideas to make more of these, in different shapes and forms. We'll see how many of those actually materialize.  : )


And then last night, on a total whim, I stuck five shipping tags together and drew the road I live on. I wanted to capture the stories of all these homes and families on the road I've lived on for most of my life.  It's not as colourful as some of the stuff I've been doing, but it does have a certain charm.

After I had an argument with my 7-year-old about which house was ours (he strongly disagrees that we live on that side of the street); I dragged out the old typewriter and typed up a couple of sentences about each house on the map. For me, half the fun and charm is the fact that you can't erase your mistakes; but my kids thought this was horrifying. They both tried their hand at typing after I was done, but beach left the room in tears because they couldn't get it just right. They are definitely children of the technological age!  Oh yeah, my 9-year-old also wanted to know "what are all the little poops" on the page. *sniff* It is SO nice to have a family who's so supportive of my art!!

Finally: this is one of my favourite things that I've worked on recently. It's pretty big; 19 1/2" across and 6 1/2" tall. It's on a piece of black heavy-duty paperboard? I'm not sure what it's called. I think you could use it as book covers, it's certainly thick enough.  I was totally inspired by this Halloween costume I saw on Pinterest.  Pretty sure I like my version better though!  HAHA!

That is all for now!!  I hope that you have all had an EPIC year, and that 2012 brings health, happiness and lots of art to all of you.


Sunday, October 2, 2011


So it's been a while.  The short version of the story is as follows: 

Things have taken a turn for the awesome around here.  I predict amazing things to come.  The end.

I'll probably expand on that one of these days but for now, here are a couple of things I worked on this week:

There is more to the address than just "SWARTZ" but I can't just go around giving away peoples' addresses all willy-nilly.  The font, called "circus" is one I downloaded from a free font site, printed out, then sat and painstakingly wrote out with a 0.1 Copic multi-liner.  I wanted to go for a circus feel, and I really liked that font.  The biggest compliment:  my son thought the letters were rub-ons.

The envelope is actually the main event - it's meant to be sent empty.  I put a piece of cardboard inside to stiffen it, but sending a decorated envelope was the whole point of this swap.  It was based on this book, called Mail Me Art (you can click to see samples inside the book); and I've been captivated by this project ever since I heard of it.  This isn't for the same project, it's a swap through swap-bot.  

My kids also bring me little bits and pieces of neat things because they know that I like to decorate the pages in my journal.  (See?  Awesome.)  They gave me this piece of cardboard, so I attached some bits and pieces I had lying around, then did a bit of random meandering journaling on it, and cut notches into it so I could slip it into the coil binding inside my book.   I hadn't worked in any of my art journals for a while, so this was more of a warm up than anything else.  

That's all for now, but stay tuned.  More awesome to come.  

Love Shelley!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Laid Bare

This is the cover of my new eight-dollar art journal.  I wanted something a little bigger (9x12") so I can make a bigger mess.  First I went through the book and tore some pages out, made fold-outs and stubs, and just generally made it a lot more interesting than it was when I brought it home.  This is what I've done with the formerly-plain-brown-and-boring cover, and as you might guess, the object of the game is to get right down to the bottom of some stuff that's been bugging me.  I have a couple of pages started in it, but nothing ready to share just yet. 

But don't worry; there will always be enough silly to go around... after all, this is me we're talking about.  This guy was speaking to me so I added him into my book, by gluing him onto a piece of cardboard and then punching holes to make him fit into the book. 

This is the back of that piece of cardboard.  Sometimes my favourite things are made from things that have no value whatsoever!  I guess I should take that to heart and quit buying expensive paper. 

HAHAHAHAHAA!!!  That will never happen.  EVER.

Love Shelley!

Monday, July 4, 2011

All Serious and Stuff

Okay, first of all that first page says "worth less" not "worthless".  I was having some pretty intense feelings when I was working on that page, of, well, being worth less.  Not as important, not as worthy, not as accomplished, not as interesting, not as attractive - I'm sure I'm not the only one who's ever felt that way.  It's a self-portrait, but to make myself feel better I made my nose smaller.  HAHAHAAAA!!  Also my eyebrows aren't really that scary, I just got carried away when I was drawing them in.  The miserable look was real that day though.  (Don't worry about me, this was very temporary.  Working it out in my journal really helped.)

The second page - well I love the badass quote, and to be honest, this is how I feel 90% of the time.  My heart is guarded, my feelings are well-protected, and most people can't see past that to the vulnerable person inside.  Which is just the way I like it.  It keeps me from having too many of those "worth less" days.  Don't tell anyone, ok?  I'm trusting you.

Love Shelley

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


SO glad the mail strike is over.  I know they don't have all their differences with the union settled yet, but I'm just (selfishly) glad that postal service will resume today.  Now I can mail some of these babies out:

I discovered a place in town called Arts Junktion last week.  It's in a semi-sketchy area but I went in the afternoon (ie. broad daylight) and everything was fine.  If you don't mind following directions that go something like this:  "Go behind the building, down the alley along the fence, past the loading doors, then up three steps into a small discreet wooden door" then this is the place for you. 

What they do is accept donations of "junk" that artists may be able to use - all kinds of stuff, from legit art supplies, to used binders and other office supplies, fabric and leather scraps, buttons... really anything that COULD be used for art.  Then?  And this is the part that floored me - you can come in and pick whatever you think you might use.  FOR FREE.  Yes!  Really!!

I was very careful not to go all crazy and grab up everything in sight, I took a few select things that I knew I would use.  For example, the three wee paintings at the top there are done with gouache and paint marker on old 5.5" floppy diskettes. 

While I was waiting for layers of paint to dry on those, I took a few minutes to put down a background in one of my art journals.  I had done half a page in here several years ago (it's horrible, I'll probably never show it to you - or I might paint over it) so I drew a black line with a sharpie and decided the bottom half of the page will be something entirely different.  Here it is so far:

I have no idea what it will be when it's finished but at least the colours are fun!

See you soon - go check your mail!!

Love Shelley!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Daily Doodle

Do you ever notice that sometimes your random mindless doodling turns out better than any actual art you attempted on purpose in a given day?

Oh.  Uh, me either.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Because everyone likes a nice octopus, right?

I was busy writing a long-overdue letter to a sweet friend of mine and I suddenly started to worry that I was going to run out of interesting things to talk about.  The problem was that I had already taken apart several empty envelopes and trimmed them all to the same size and stapled them back together into a booklet, so I was really feeling the (self-imposed) pressure to fill every single page.

Of course this was before my son engaged in a dance-off with a carnie at a rural festival; before my daughter announced she was mad at God for letting her nana's cat get run over on the road; before my husband came home with a recipe for making mini bombs out of stray blobs of mercury; before I played 'make-up bag' with my sister, and before we met the dumbest waitress on the planet (when four people arrive at a restaurant for dinner, and the waitress asks you how many of you would like cutlery... seriously?!)  So it turns out I would have had LOTS to talk about, but that's fine, because who doesn't like a nice orange octopus? 

*sorry about the facing page still being there - I scanned this one instead of taking a picture, and I couldn't figure out how to get rid of the extra stuff.  I COULD tell you what it says, but isn't it more fun to imagine what I wrote? 

And that's it for now.  I have more but I really have to figure out the technology part before I post this stuff. 

Love Shelley!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Some recent journal pages

I've been busy working on all kinds of journal pages, having fun with stuff as the inspiration hits me.  In some cases, I haven't even been waiting for the inspiration, I have just jumped right in, and actually that's how that chicken coop page started.  I added the fold-out page before I had any idea what I was planning, but luckily for me it all turned out all right.  I always feel a certain sense of relief when an experiment ends up looking like I meant to do that all along. 

A friend of a friend very gullibly trustingly sent me a couple of her journals to work in.  MOOOO HOO HAHAHAHA!  She didn't even set any guidelines, just told me to have at 'er.  Honestly, some people will trust ANYBODY!

The top page is done in a regular composition journal, and the bottom three are in a small notebook that's around 4x6".  I'll be popping them back in the mail to her tomorrow. 

Until then, keep your stick on the ice.

Love Shelley!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


Last week I had to attend a meeting for Cameron's soccer team, and since I work in the city and the meeting was in the city, I decided to stay in the city rather than driving home and back in again.  So during the downtime, I treated myself to a burger at A&W... this isn't the actual burger though.  It didn't last long enough to pose for a portrait.  HA!  No, I was way too hungry for that.  While I ate, though, I drew the burger off of the coupons they gave me.  I just used a red verithin Prisma pencil crayon that I found in my desk at work.  Originally I was planning on going over it afterwards with a Sharpie and colouring it in with watercolours, but then I decided to leave well enough alone.

Although.... if I would have painted it, then it would probably be easier to tell what each layer is. 

Bon appetit!
Love Shelley

Sunday, April 10, 2011

I've got my eye on you.

There are layers of journaling around the outside edge of these pages.  I didn't want anybody to be able to read it - I just wanted to unload into my journal and get this stuff out of my head.  I always find it helps to do a brain dump now and then!!  Anyway, I was feeling as intense as this eagle looks when I did the writing.  Afterward I was able to relax a little.  More like a ... flamingo?  Are flamingos more relaxed than eagles?  They look more cheery and pink at least.

Are you still listening to me?  I wouldn't if I were you.  I'm not making much sense.    : )

Love Shelley! 

Friday, April 8, 2011

My First Car

I learned a lot of lessons from this car when I was 17 (and so was the car).  How to pour gas directly into the carb when it wouldn't start - and how to thump the starter with a hammer when it wasn't turning over properly.  How to give it gas without flooding it.  How to do donuts in an icy parking lot.  That every car has its little quirks, and once you figure them out, then you can have a beautiful relationship.  It was a tank - chrome bumpers, everything made of steel; heavy and hard on gas.  I had a flat tire at least once a week, and for a while there I was setting land-speed records - I could change a tire in five minutes.  Especially once my dad got me a monster-sized crossbar to unscrew the lug nuts.  That was a sweet crossbar... I wonder what ever happened to it?  Likely if I had something like that in my vehicle today it would be considered a dangerous weapon.  It never really occurred to me to try to figure out WHY I was getting flat tires so frequently; looking back I can't help but suspect sabotage.  HA! 

I had some pretty good adventures with this car. Camping trips, bar-hopping, a little bit of off-roading.  I even got my first speeding ticket in this car!  Eventually it went down the line to my brother and I bought a new car.  I did some math and figured out that the new car payments would be about the same as just putting gas into this beast.  The new car didn't have as much character as this baby though.  For starters, it wasn't baby poop green...

I love these old beat-up, solid-as-a-rock, big-steering-wheeled, rear-wheel drive tanks.  OR maybe I just miss being 17?  ...Nah.  It's definitely the cars.

Love Shelley!

Monday, April 4, 2011


The eyes and nose aren't quite right, but I'm getting there!  You can tell it's a person, so I'd say I'm doing GREAT!!!

Love Shelley!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Bright Colours and Shallow Thoughts


I'm still here!

I've been doing some spring cleaning and decluttering, and not surprisingly ... creating more room got my mojo rolling like crazy once again.  Here's another one of the daily doodle postcard-sized watercolour drawing/paintings I did.

One day, I'll get there! 

(I drew and painted this based on a photo I found on flickr.)

Drew and painted based on a chocolate bar I ate.

Drew and painted based on a daily doodle of Teesha Moore's.  I didn't know I was going to take it this far with the plagiarism until it was too late.

I love the free-motion stitching pictures, because they inspire me to try to achieve lines like that with my black pens.

Sure, I try to be all badass... but it's hard to pull that off when you're drinking a bright pink concoction out of a red straw.  I have to make more of an effort to like bourbon, I guess.  (Bleah)

I have lots more to show you, but this is probably enough for right now.  I've been working on some art journal pages - they're just bubbling up out of me right now.  Spring break must agree with me!

Hope you're enjoying it too.  And if you find yourself sitting on a patio having a girly drink... have one for me too!

Love Shelley!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Nature Lover

This plant has a lot in common with Fred Penner's cat.  I wonder if I gave it to a man going up in a balloon, if he would take it up to the man in the moon...?

I guess it would be more humane than "loading up my shotgun with nails and dynamite."  Right?

Love Shelley!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Happy Mail!

Slightly crooked as usual, and the white words really disappear into the paler colours at the top.  (watercolours, sharpies on watercolour paper) 

My inspiration:

Just a little bit of the outgoing mail around here lately.

That's all for now.  Be back soon!

Love Shelley!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Bonus Day!

I was all ready to head in to work this morning when I got a call from the bus driver: school is closed!  I wasn't expecting that at all.  But really, there's no downside (besides getting further behind at work, of course, but I guess I'll just work reeeeeeeeally hard tomorrow.)

The kids were happy that I was here to have breakfast with them; less happy that I put them to work emptying the dishwasher after that, but happy again when I decided to bake!  Right now there's a lemon slice in the oven.  Maybe later: chocolate chip cookies.  After all, if the weather is miserable enough to force us to stay home, then I'm pretty sure some comfort food is in order. 

I'm also going to try to get a couple more of these little sketchy things done.  I have Big Plans for this collection of stuff.  I'm telling you that so that I will be accountable - I know my own tendency to start on a Big Idea and then not follow it through.  So I'll share this with you: I want to do 28 of these, and then make 'em into a zine.  I've always dreamed of doing zines, and after all, I AM trying to make this an epic year. 

Okay.  I'm off to see how much butter I have.  Cookies and watercolours are the order of the day, and that makes me really happy.

Love Shelley!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

You might have to squint a little


I had a great time this past weekend working on some postcard-sized doodle/paintings. And I just realized that it's already THURSDAY and wow, am I late showing these to you!

Actually I'm only going to show you one for now. I don't know if it's because the watercolour paper is still slightly curled, or if I did something wrong when I cropped out the extra stuff, but this photo isn't exactly accurate.

The colours are pretty close to the original, but the actual picture is taller and narrower, not short and stumpy and crunched-looking. So yeah, if you squint a little you'll get the idea, but I think I'll try to get better pics to show you the other ones I did. 

Back soon.
Love Shelley!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Never had one lesson!

Okay, that's not EXACTLY true.

A couple of years ago, I signed up for a beginner's art class that was supposed to teach me how to draw.  Well, the teacher and I didn't exactly see eye to eye.  Her idea of teaching was to repeatedly say some phrases that didn't mean anything to me, like, "Just draw what you see!"  (If I could do that, I WOULDN'T BE HERE) and "Compare and contrast!" (?????)

So yeah.  I've had a couple of lessons.  But on the whole, I just try to draw what I see.  HAHA!!  Ironic, isn't it.

I didn't see this chicken in person today.  Just a photo of him standing atop a building.  He's a roadside attraction somewhere, I think.  I thought he looked majestic and happy, so I decided to see if I could draw him.  I was just playing, nothing serious.

I sketched him out in Sharpie and filled it in with watercolours.  He does not look exactly like my model, but if I don't show you that one, then you can't compare and contrast, can you?  Basically, if you can tell it's a chicken without me giving you a broad hint, (BAWK!) then I'm happy with how he turned out.

Of course, I can never leave well enough alone.  I thought he was a little boring, so I added some extra details to the background.

Can you still tell it's a chicken?

Good.  Then my work here is done.

Love Shelley!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

True Confessions, Part XXIXVIMXXIV

So here's something I've been exploring: the "FAKE IT TILL YOU MAKE IT" way of life.

It's kind of cool, actually, as long as you don't lose your nerve.  When you can project the confidence that you know exactly what you're doing, that everything is going your way because it simply wouldn't dare do otherwise, that things are working out exactly as they should, and it's all because of your sheer awesomeness... well, even if it wasn't strictly true to begin with, sometimes it ends up actually turning out that way.  And somehow, you just make it look easy.

Like magic.

And then you find out?  That you had that wild, free-flying awesomeness inside you the whole time.

Trust me on this one.

Love Shelley!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

So I have this penpal...

She's awesome and amazing and has made me realize something about penpals who turn out to be (or turn into) real friends.  Just because we live far away from each other doesn't mean we have to follow the traditional penpal rules, where she sends me a letter, and then I send her a letter in reply, and then we each take turns ad infinitum writing to each otherNOOOOOOO.  Rules are for people with no imagination!

THIS penpal has sent me three very different items since the last time I sent her anything.  And one of them was a quick-and-dirty thinking-of-you note that was actually just as awesome as the other two more elaborate packages.  Which got me to thinking: that's right!  Every single thing I mail doesn't have to be "ART".  Or rather, it can be, but it doesn't have to be the kind that takes four days to put together. 

In that spirit, I dashed off a note on a long piece of gray heavy paper I'd gotten at the thrift store (a big pile of these sheets for $0.49!!) and added just a couple of embellishments, nothing fancy at all.  Just a quick hello and update on how things are going over here.  Then?  I didn't even put it in an envelope. 

I know!  How much less formal can you get?  Instead I just folded it up and used these Avery mailing seals to keep it together.   

Of course, you kind of have to know ahead of time that you're doing this, so you can leave a clear area for the address, but I think it's kinda cool. Oh, and this also works best if you're just using paper - not adding in little loose things as gifts or anything.  If this does happen to come open, nothing will be lost.  And a mailman somewhere will be highly amused to read the transcript of a recent prayer I sent up.  Win-win, right?

I didn't really do anything fancy with the back, it was getting late and I was determined that this was going to be a quick note, and would be in the mail TODAY.

I'm happy to say: mission accomplished.

Love Shelley!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Giant postcards!!

Sometimes I sign up to do fun things that have nothing to do with my own art journals, just for a challenge and because they're usually a lot of fun. Plus they always result in getting awesome mail in return.

This one was through, and the assignment was to make a giant postcard for your partner.  In the US they can send something up to approximately 6" x 11" (or is it 11" x 6"?) for FORTY-FOUR CENTS!!!  Wow.  If we had that rate on postage I'd be sending out massive postcards all the time.  Oh, plus they can be up to 1/4" thick!!  Just think of the possibilities!

Canada Post unfortunately does not have a separate rate for postcards, so I was going to have to pay the "oversize letter" rate. Which to the US is $2.06, as long as it's not over 100g. I figured I'd better get my money's worth. I made a "postcard" out of a cardboard file marker that measured 9 1/2" x 15". Since it was pretty huge and kind of intimidating, I started off by basecoating it with gesso. If I don't have any ideas for something, I'll often start by throwing down a coat of gesso or paint, just so I'm at least doing something, not sitting there stalled. And more often than not, the ideas do come.  Unfortunately I ended up covering up every bit of the card with collage material afterward, so the gesso turned out to be completely unnecessary.  That's okay though, it got me moving at least.

I started gluing stuff onto the card.

Doesn't that look amazing so far?!   Sometimes my genius is almost blinding.

I collaged a whole bunch of bits and pieces to my postcard: a parking pass, some EKG paper, tissue paper, old receipts, a calendar page, some fabric tape, washi tape, rub-ons, a computer punch card, patterned cardstock, part of a flash card, a photo, labels, magazine bits, a piece from a lottery ticket number picker - really anything that was within reach that was fairly neutrally-coloured.  Then I started stamping - I used a dotted-line roller, a date stamp, a script stamp, and some number stamps.  Oh, also the "UTILITY" stamp that I got at Value Village.  I have no idea what it was originally used for, but it's one of my current favourites!

After that I covered the whole thing in a wash of titan buff paint, to blend everything together.

Starting to look like something, right?  After that I stopped taking progress pictures, because I kind of got into it.  My victim - I mean SWAP PARTNER - likes the number 8, the ampersand symbol, and the colour blue.  So my postcard wasn't entirely made up of random elements.  I tried to make something she would really like.

 The ampersand is actually a thin chipboard cutout, covered in patterned paper and then trimmed and the edges sanded.  I did the lettering by hand, which is why it's not always straight.  But I do really like how it turned out around the ampersand!  It reminds me of an ad for a circus or something. 

It's going out in today's mail.  Hopefully it arrives quickly; mail from here to the eastern seaboard seems to take about two weeks, for some reason.  I sure hope it fits in her mailbox!

Have a fantastic day, you guys.

Love Shelley!