class review: 52 painting class

by Sarah

she sleeps in the meadow

Back in March of this year I joined Mati McDonough and Faith Evan-Sills on a year long journey of painting in their online course 52 Paintings: Exploration, Self Discovery and Community through Painting. Unfortunately for me, the beginning of class coincided with my shoulder surgery and I was unable to participate until early this summer.

untitled #2

My goal with this course is to create 52 pieces of art and build my portfolio while making and learning new techniques. So far I have completed 3 paintings; only 49 to go!

The course itself is very easy to manage with a busy schedule and I often listen to the content at night and then paint when I have free time in my schedule. I have always enjoyed classes with Mati and looking around my studio, many of the pieces hanging I have created when working with her. Faith has amazing videos and shares so much of her process from her studio in Charleston, SC. The content is robust and the techniques and tools shared have grown my art practice.

The online connection with other artists is also invaluable. Being able to post your work in the facebook group or in the online classroom has been helpful for feedback, a pat on the back and meeting other like minded artists.

This course is only halfway completed and you can sign-up at any time. I definitely recommend it for growing your art practice and your portfolio.

Have a great Wednesday, everyone!


redlinedesign: sketchbooks as inspiration

by Sarah


I have been keeping sketchbooks and journals for as long as long as I remember. They are a huge source of inspiration for me and are filled with postcards, notes, writing, sketches and lots and lots of color. I have shared a few images of my sketchbook pages over the years and am excited to share that I spent some time over the weekend painting in a new sketchbook.


My inspiration for these images comes from my pinterest board: Flowers. I have gathered so many images on this board that I want to grow my creative practice through painting and sketching, thus the new beginnings of my most recent sketchbook.

In addition to this pinterest board, I also follow some amazing artists that use paint in their own journals. Here are a few to check out:

I’m considering turning some of the sketches into prints. Let me know what you think…

Happy Monday everyone!

Whats in your toolbox – part two

by Sarah



This week in what’s in your toolbox, we will be spending some time talking about some different tools I use for painting.

From the beginning of my creative education I was always taught, as I think I have mentioned before, to purchase the best possible supplies that you can afford. For my painting supplies, I have already introduced you to the paints, so now we will spend a little time on mediums to work on, paint brushes and camera products I use to gather inspiration.

  • Mediums: use whatever you have available. There are many, many products out there so experiment. Sometimes I use watercolor paper for my acrylic work and marker work. I buy them in pads that are referred to blocks. They are expensive, so I always watch for sales and then buy in bulk to last me for awhile. I learned about this paper when I took a watercolor class many years ago. I also use Ampersand Gessoboard for my mixed media work. I like that it is primed and ready to go and that makes it all the more easy to sit down and begin. As far as size, traditionally I like to work small, so that I can feel a sense of accomplishment with my work. I have a tendency to not finish larger pieces, so this is a great way to begin. In addition to the Ampersand board, my friend Marisa introduced me to Art Boards. She does most of her illustration and mixed media work on these and chooses to create on the really small ones. I am beginning to use them in my work as well, so once I have a completed project, I will definitely share it with you.
  • Paint Brushes: again, I buy the best that I can afford and watch for sales. After having completed a class with Flora Bowley last spring, I now also add inexpensive foam brushes from Home Depot and inexpensive brushes from Ikea to the mix.
  • Cameras: I could spend a whole post discussing cameras and probably will as we move forward but for this purpose, I use a Canon Rebel T2i for all my digital camera work. I love this camera. It is an entry level professional camera that you can buy in a kit with a basic lens if you check around. I personally like to go to my local camera store as everyone is very knowledgeable and helpful. I am a touch and feel person and have a hard time buying directly online for some items. I have two basic lenses with the camera an EFS 18-135mm and a macro lens. In addition to my DSLR camera, I am an avid user of instagram and my iphone 5. If you follow my blog, then you know I am in the midst of a year and half long project, 100 Wednesdays,  where I am selecting my 3 favorite instagram photos each week and sharing them on my site. Whenever I travel, I have my phone at the ready to capture inspiration as it strikes. Sometimes it is difficult and cumbersome to carry my big camera around so the iphone is a great quick substitute.

With all the items we have discussed, you are now armed and ready to begin creating. Next time, I will give you some great courses and retreats (including my own Create Explore Discover Art Retreat) to help you grow your skills in any area of interest for you. I will also share some things I have been working on to help you along the way.

Whats In Your Toolbox – Part One

by Sarah

When you begin a creative practice or a creative business there are some tools that can be indispensable for making your life easier. Today I am going share a few tools to have on hand to get you started, no matter what direction your creativity takes.

  • A place to work: your creative space does not need to be large initially (although I am finding that I am outgrowing my own space and need to rethink how I work) just a space that you can make your own that you enjoy coming to and is filled with inspiring pieces of your life.
  • A sketchbook or notebook: whether you are writing, sketching, photographing or coming up with creative ideas you need somewhere to write down your thoughts and findings. I use primarily Moleskine notebooks but use what you have or find something that can become your sacred space to dream and ponder your creative life ahead.
  • Pens and Pencils: This is a big category for me as I have many different types of products I use for different purposes. For general writing, sketching and drawing I use Sharpie Pens and Faber Castell Pitt Pens. For sketching and drawing in pencil and writing I use Pentel Mechanical Pencils. For colored pencils, I began using Prismacolor Colored Pencils in college and have been using them ever since. They have a wonderful color range and blend really well to create additional colors. You can also by the pencils individually so if a favorite color runs low you do not have to replace a whole set.
  • Markers: I have used a good quality set of markers since I was in college. It seems there are a few investments that you will make that will stay with you throughout time. Prismacolor Markers are my marker of choice as they work really well with the Prismacolor pencils and the blending capabilities of both are excellent. As with the pencils, you can add individual colors without having to buy a set but if you can afford it, I would recommend a basic set of 72 which will have greys, some metallics and a complete line of basic colors. Watch for sales around the start of school in the fall as you can generally get a set for 50% off if you know when to look.
  • Paints: In the past few years, I have been experimenting with acrylic painting and have found that Golden Brand and Liquitex Brand are my favorite brands. With both paints you have the option for soft body, fluid body and heavy body. I primarily use heavy body and fluid body acrylics in my own work and love the fluid acrylics that Golden makes. Paints are expensive so I have built my collection slowly over time.

Next time, we will be talking about types of mediums to paint on, paintbrushes and cameras. What’s in your toolbox?



the Makerie – Photo Journal Day Two

by Sarah

morning lilacs

The first morning of the Makerie and I stepped outside to an array of color from the blooming lilac bushes. Anticipation for the beginning of this creative journey growing immensely inside me, I took a few moments to breathe in the fresh air and absorb the spring colors surrounding me. Lilacs are one of my favorite spring flowers and to see so many already in bloom was wonderful way to start the day. My course for the weekend: Bloom True with artist, Flora Bowley; How fitting with lilacs and spring and rebirth and renewal.

the blank canvas

the blank canvas prior to class starting…my thoughts? how was I going to fill 2- 30×30 blank canvases with paint? what would I create? and how would I start? With Flora as a guide, the process was not difficult but fun again, like playing when you are a child. All expectations out the window and just you, the music and color and freedom to explore. Who could ask for anything more?


monica and bel

My Bloom True partners: Monica Soeldner and Belinda Fireman; Monica and Bel have been my friends for about 1-1/2 years and we met through an online artist community called Creative Coconuts. I have written about the coconuts before but to actually meet several in person was such a treat. True life long friendships were developed during the weekend and I cannot wait to see everyone again. In the next few posts you will also meet more coconuts and some really creative, fun women from the retreat.


light; the word of the moment in one of my paintings; it did not stay long as part of our process was freeing yourself from what was in front of you and throwing all expectation out of the window. A difficult process but incredibly rewarding at the end.

bel's hand

concentration and hands; I love photos of hands and creativity. To me they show a totally different side of the creative process become that extension of brain, to eye, to canvas that we rarely take the time to look at…

flora's color lesson

a color lesson by Flora; I love color and everything about how it mixes, where it is in nature and how it all works together in your piece.

progress in yellow

one of my paintings before lunch; The final product looked nothing like this but I enjoyed capturing the moment in time where all of the parts of the painting stood. I will be showing you the progression of my paintings in an upcoming post. Over the two day period the pieces I worked on changed so dramatically that you would not even recognize this as a stage. The experience of fully letting go and allowing yourself to explore and experiment is incredibly uplifting and something that I highly recommend.

Have a great day.




100 Wednesdays Weeks 3 and 4 Paintings

by Sarah

Its been a few weeks since Get Your Paint On finished but I wanted to make sure that I shared my final projects with you. This week I have Weeks 3 and 4 and once I complete week 5 I will post it for you.

Week 3 was all about color. Lisa and Mati introduced us to some amazing artists and one that really caught my attention was Beatriz Milhazes. If you click on her name I have linked it to a page of images on google. Beatriz is a Brazilian artist that started as a collage artist. Over the years she has begun experimenting with how paint can be used as collage. Many of her pieces have large circles that she paints onto some sort of plastic medium, waits for them to dry and then adds them to her painting.

I have added an image of her work from my sketchbook and all the paint palette I chose for this weeks particular painting. My thought process in creating the piece with the quail was to create something strictly with paint and no collage attachment to it (as Lisa challenged us to do so) I experimented with layers and color and small detail with a paint brush. The result is the piece you see in the lower left corner above.

Week 4 was all about composition and looking at your pieces in a different way. Along with composition come basic design principles of harmony and balance. For me it was fun to take a step back and rethink what composition is all about. Also during the research for this week my Creative Coconuts group was in deep discussion over the word “Balance” and what that means to an artist that juggles many things in their day. I chose to include the word “balance” in my piece for the Coconuts and wanted to practice writing with a paint brush. My color palette stayed similar to my other pieces and I have included a page from my sketchbook that shows a thumbnail of my painting.

During this process, I have learned a lot about picking up a paint brush again. I have chosen small 8×8 gesso boards as my medium to paint on and have limited my paint palette so that I can experiment with how the colors go together. My pieces are also relatively simple so that I can obtain a sense of completion. My kids have also painted with me throughout the course and we have found something we truly enjoy doing together.

Hope you have a enjoyed a peek into my painting. Have a great Wednesday everyone….


100 Wednesdays: Week 2 – Painting

by Sarah

Week 2 Painting with Mati and Lisa. This week was to find a subject matter or artist that inspires you as your starting point and create a piece based upon it. My inspirations for the week included: Picasso, Orla Kiely and Jessica Swift.

The Picasso piece is petite fleur and I chose it as the main starting point because it has always been a favorite of mine. I love the simplicity of this piece, the hands wrapped in giving and the colorful flowers they are holding. It means friendship, love and happiness to me. The colors: red, yellow, pink, green, purple, blue and orange also speak of life and love when I see them. In addition to Picasso, I found Orla Kiely a nice breaking off point to begin this piece. Her designs to me, show simplicity, color, repetition of pattern and are very graphically pleasing to look at.

Next comes Jessica Swift. Her graphic details, bright colors and whimsical subject matter are what attracted me to the piece above. (incidently, it was included in a package from her when I purchased a piece of her art) The piece above by artist Betsy Walton was included in Mati and Lisa’s inspiration for the week and I included this specific one as I really liked the leaf patterns, the red glasses and the miniature house down in the right hand corner.

So what did I find about my painting this week? I really enjoy using bold color, simple patterns and a more graphic style to represent my work. Thanks for stopping by and have a great Wednesday……

100 Wednesdays: Painting

by Sarah

A few weeks ago, I signed up for Get Your Paint On, a five week e-course given by Lisa Congdon and Mati McDonough. I had no idea what to expect, except that I would be painting for the next 5 weeks. What do I know about painting? Just what I have learned in the few art courses I have taken since college and many many visits to art museums with both of my aunts and my sister Rachel.

So with this information under my belt, I grabbed a moleskine sketchbook and started taking notes and adding inspirational pieces to it in hopes that it will chronicle my five week journey into painting and give me a bouncing off point to hopefully be able to add painting to more of my creative endeavours.

The photo above is my interpretation of a Gees Bend Quilt. I actually had a sketch of a quilt that I was helping a friend to design last year and when given this prompt, it made me go back to May  to find the sketch and see if I could build upon it. The brown, grey and purple are from the color scheme we were looking at using in the room. The red and yellow are common colors I found when researching the quilts and the triangular shapes intrigued me and reminded me of the mountains in our region. So Lys, if you are reading this–this quilt is for you–hope you enjoy it…

(original interior palette-used as color inspiration)

My kids were so excited to see me painting that they wanted to join in the fun and below are their interpretations of the the quilts. I love how free and easy it was for them to paint. They took a quick look at some of the photos and at my sketchbook and set to work. Both pieces completed in a short time and joy from all three of us.

Ben: Age 13

Emily: Age 9

It always amazes me how easy it is for kids to paint and how difficult it is for adults. I think that children do not have preconceived notions about their creativity like we do and it does not hold them back. For me, painting with my kids or doing anything else creative for that matter with them helps me to loosen up, not be so rigid and be more open to less perfection in my work. They motivated me so much on Saturday that I painted a second piece with some left over color from my daughters palette.

If you have children in your life try a project with them and see how it sparks your own creativity. If you don’t have children borrow a friends kids or a niece or nephew….it will give you all something creative that you can cherish forever.

Have a great day everyone…and thanks Lisa and Mati for helping me to GET YOUR PAINT ON…