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It’s hot as hell here!

Too hot to do much of anything.

Way too hot for Fred to be outside.  (He has a long, thick, double-coat of fur.)

Fred even has his own personal fan which he loves.  

You can find Fred sitting/laying in front of his fan many hours of each day.

And, of course, my a/c has been running 24/7.

(This is what you do when your giant fur child really belongs in an arctic climate!)

“My” hummingbirds have been drinking FOUR, large (32 oz.), feeders EACH day of the heat wave.

Paul Newman was a champ last Thursday and made me feel much, much, better.  I wish I were rich so I could afford Paul Newman every day.  I can’t imagine how much less pain I’d have.

Sometimes, if there are a few extra minutes, he works on my neck too.

My poor neck does all the work of moving my arm for me.

As a result, it’s always sore and stressed.

When Paul Newman starts working on my neck,

I begin having uncontrollable, loud, moaning, neck-gasms.

I think it terrifies Paul Newman.

He promptly goes right back to working on my arm.

Ha ha!

I can’t HELP IT!

I’ve tried to have silent neck-gasms, so he will continue with what he’s doing, but I can’t control myself!

Who knew neck-gasms were a thing?

(Tomorrow I’ll tell you about the terrible mishap of an adventure I had with Fred Saturday night.  It has left me in horrible pain. Just when I thought I was over my flare-up, I’ve found myself worse than I’ve been in ages.  I think I give up …?)

I played with art on Saturday.  It was a nice, cool, thing to do during the hottest hours of the day.

This upcoming photo is a background in my “extra” book.

My Extra Book is where I rub off the extra paint on my brushes and/or brayer so I don’t waste it.

Then I come back later and try to make something from the pages.

I’m finding I enjoy my extra book more than my “real” book.

I think it’s because I’m not “trying” to make anything in my Extra Book.

It is what it is … and then I just play with it.

Right now, this page is a messy mix of leftover paint from a Gelli print, old newsprint collage, modeling paste, deli paper, gesso, etc., etc.

AJ1 © 2015 Suzanne Haggerty W

“Extra” Page from my “Extra” Art Journal

I think it’s a beautiful mess.

I’ll probably add a portrait or something to this “extra” page.

What’s currently there will only be slightly visible by the time I’m done.

Another example of an “extra” page is this weird looking girl I did:

AJ2 © 2015 Suzanne Haggerty W

Purple Girl – Not Quite A Masterpiece!

I “made” her on a page I had used to sop up extra ink … purple and yellow, primarily.

The page was sitting there unused and I decided I’d add a girl, but leave the background visible instead of painting over it.

She’s splotchy as a result, but it was kind of a fun challenge to make all the splotches into something.

Here’s a background I did from a page in my “real” book.

It isn’t done yet, it is only layer #1 of the background, but I like it so far.

AJ3 © 2015 Suzanne Haggerty W

I’m starting to learn what I like and don’t like regarding my art play.

For instance, I initially bought a lot of different types of mixed media paper – whatever I could find on sale.

But, I’m realizing paper matters.

The quality of paper makes a HUGE difference as you start adding wet stuff (matte medium, paint, gesso, etc.) to it.

I’ll use all that I have, but in the future I’ll know which paper to buy.

Also, I love color so I began by using A LOT of color.

But, now I’m realizing color can make a very dramatic impact when it’s used sparingly.

(Not always, of course, it depends on what you’re making.)

Anyway, it’s crazy how I’m already (!!) discovering strong art-play preferences and dislikes.

Tomorrow I’ll tell you all about my weekend’s Misadventure With Fred.

Having a giant breed dog is wonderful, but also CHALLENGING.


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Things I am SO Sick of!!

My tolerance for some things has ended.

For instance ….

•  I don’t think I can bear to hear one more word about the Kardashians.

•  I am SO tired of all the politicians and all their political campaigns – is the election over yet?

•  I’m exhausted by “photographers” who think they know it all, but take crappy photos.

•  Insecure women.  Seriously, if you don’t believe in yourself – who will?  You’re awesome – believe it!

•  Middle-aged men who think they’re IT.  You aren’t IT.  You weren’t ever IT.  You just thought you were.  Even if you were halfway IT, you are no longer IT so please stop acting like you’re wanted by women everywhere.

•  Older men with younger women.  I know, I know – men have been doing this forever.  But?  Do all these old guys really think younger women are attracted and/or in love with them?  Do they not see it’s all about their money?  Do they not care?  Or, are their egos so huge they really think women love their Viagra infused, beer-belly, bodies?

•  People with bad manners.  When did it become the norm to have bad manners?

•  Companies who ask to use my photos in return for “exposure.”  Exposure doesn’t pay the bills, folks.  Would you do your job for no paycheck?  And also …?  I’m pretty well established at this point in my career.  I’m very exposed – thank you very much anyway!

•  My arm.  My pain level has been SO BAD lately.  I need a mental break from pain.  I think it’s going on two weeks for this flare-up?  And I just feel like I can’t take it anymore.  Paul Newman is seeing me this morning.  I hope it helps.  I love that man.  I hope he never quits me.  I will crawl in a corner and die without his help.

•  It just occurred to me …. Maybe I’m sick of all these other things because my patience is down due to a high pain level?  But no, I really AM sick of all these things.  ESPECIALLY THE KARDASHIANS!!

•  Myself.  Yep, I exhaust myself.  Why do I always feel like I have to change the world?  Why can’t I be one of those people who’s happy with the status quo?  I’m always pushing myself to do more, be more, and to make CHANGE in the world.  I need to stop thinking I can make a difference.  I frustrate myself.

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My Ten Essentials For Art Journaling

I’m certainly not an art journal expert.

And, of course, personal preferences often vary.

That being said, I thought I’d share with you my top ten essential items for art journaling.

I LOVE my art journal.

Who knew?

I never would have imagined myself doing anything at all with art.

If someone as unartistic as me can have fun with an art journal, ANYONE CAN!

OK, here goes ….

My Ten Essentials For Art Journaling

1.  Journal.  This can be an old book you re-purpose, or any one of a number of mixed media journals.  I like this one because the paper is super high quality, but you can use any book you like.

2.  Gesso.  (Pronounced Jess-oh)  You don’t have to buy professional artist-quality gesso.  Some people don’t use gesso at all, but I can’t imagine NOT using it.  It’s like primer for your pages and to me, it’s an absolute essential.  I use Liquitex Basics Gesso.

 3.  Matte Medium – I prefer Liquitex Professional Matte Medium.  (No, I’m not getting payed to sponsor Liquitex!)  Matte Medium is used in a LOT of ways including priming a page, glazing, decoupage, sealing a finished page, and even transferring images.  (I mainly use it as a primer, as glue, and to seal over some of my pages.)

4.  Paint brushes.  These vary depending on what you plan to do.  I use cheap, disposable foam brushes and/or old used up gift cards for applying gesso and matte medium.  Actually, I use cheap brushes for ANY painting I do.  I’m not an artist.  I don’t need to spend a fortune on expensive brushes I would most likely ruin.  I have (and love!) a Pentel waterbrush for use with my watercolor paints.  I paint a lot with acrylics so I picked up an inexpensive “value pack” of brushes.

5.  Paint.  Yes, you can have an art journal and never paint in it.  An art journal can be whatever you want it to be.  For me, however, paint is a return to childhood.  It doesn’t matter if I finger paint, paint a simple object, and/or play around with an abstract.  It’s just … fun!  You can pick up “craft paints” on sale for 40-50 cents fairly frequently.  (Here’s a link to a full set, but you can pick up individual colors as you need them!)  If you’re an experienced painter you probably will want a higher quality paint.  Again, I’m not an artist.  I’m just using my journal as a place to play and explore.  For now, cheap paints are great.  I don’t feel guilty about wasting money when I botch up a page.  I like that freedom.  I also use some nice watercolor paints.  I LOVE them!  You can try whatever makes you happy!

6.  Pens.  Everyone likes different pens.  Use whatever you like.  I use a set of Sakura Micron Pens I’ve had for years.  They’re still one of my favorites … no smearing, waterproof, archival quality, blah, blah, blah!  I’ve also found, without question, the Uni-Ball Signo Broad Point White Gel Pen is the best “white” for writing on paint.  (Sharpie makes a water-based white paint pen that works great, also, if you’re okay with using a paint pen.)  I’ve found a Fude pen works best when I want to write with black on acrylic paint.

If you love gel pens, I think the original Sakura Gelly Rolls are the best.  (Again, you can pick them up individually if you want – you certainly don’t have to buy a full set unless you WANT to!)  I enjoy adding doodling and accents with gel pens.

There are all sorts of specialty pens you can delve into if you decide you love to art journal.  I’ve fallen in love with Montana Acrylic Paint Markers.  They’re expensive, but they’re refillable.  I use them for “drawing” faces and people.  (Apparently, they’re also the favorite pen of graffiti artists.)

I’m even more in love with my Zig Clean Color Real Brush Markers.  They’re my absolute favorite art tool and they can be bought individually.  I loved my first few so much I bought the full set.  (And then waited for months for the set to arrive – they were out of stock EVERYWHERE!)  I’ll probably do a whole separate post on them.  Love, love, love!  These are basically a way to “watercolor” with ink instead of paint.  I keep finding more and more uses for them.  Maybe they aren’t for everyone, but I LOVE them!  I even use them on my calendar and in my planner.  Unfortunately, these pens are not refillable but you can replace your most-used pens when necessary by buying them individually.

 7.  Pencils.  An old fashioned, or mechanical, pencil always comes in handy for sketching out your ideas.  I’ve always been a big fan of colored pencils also.  I find I use them often in my journal.  I have a full set of Prismacolor Colored Pencils and I love how easily they blend.  (You have to treat them carefully though – they break easily if dropped or abused in shipping.)  Faber-Castell Polychromos are excellent too.  I don’t have a full set of the Polychromos, but I buy them individually when I have the opportunity.  Little by little, I’ll add on to my collection.

8.  Stencils.  I’ve come to love stencils.  I primarily use them for adding layers/depth to backgrounds.  For this reason, I don’t have many stencils of “things” or “scenes.”  I do have several of geometric shapes and other “good” backgrounds.  (Bubbles, circles, diamonds, arrows, squares, “bricks,” vintage lettering, etc.)  I’ve also been making layers using stencils with my Gelli Plate.  The monoprints from the Gelli Plate then become backgrounds themselves for art journal pages, borders, collages, etc.  If I had more time I would make my own stencils.  It isn’t hard to do.  But, I never have enough hours in the day as it is.  Maybe I’ll make my own stencils – someday.

9.  Ink.  Until a couple months ago I never gave a passing thought to ink.  There are so many beautiful inks available for art play.  Some of them are reactive to water and some are permanent.  The colors, textures, and effects are very different than what you achieve with paints.  I haven’t delved too deep into the ink world yet.  I’ve primarily played with Dylusions Inks (such beautiful colors!) and Dy-Na-Flow Inks.  Inks are fun.  You can spray them.  You can dab them.  You can drop them on paper with eye droppers.  You can put them in water brushes and draw/paint with them.

10.  Ephemera.  Those fair tickets?  Or vacation brochures?  Your old postcard from Aunty Jane?  The junk mail you always toss?  They can be incorporated into your pages in all sorts of creative ways.  You can even use homework and/or report cards as ephemera.  The ideas for this category are endless!

There are all sorts of other things you can also use.  Pastels, chalk, fabric, photographs, etc., etc.

But, I hope I gave you a good idea of what I find to be the most essential items to get started.  If you’re new to art journaling, allow yourself to start slow and don’t worry about “mistakes.”

The whole purpose is to have fun!

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It’s All True

•  Yesterday’s post went up late but it IS published.

•  I’m 99.9% sure my arm is out of the socket, or subluxed, or whatever it’s called.  If I’m “lucky” it will pop back in on its own.  Paul Newman has been on vacation again and I won’t be seeing him until Friday.  He will pop it back where it belongs when I see him.  In the meantime, I’m cranky.

•  A warning light came on in my car.  Apparently, my tires were low on air.  I was near a dealership so I stopped in and asked if they could put air in my tires.  I believe my exact words were, “I can do it on my own, but I don’t want to get down on all fours and get dirty.”  Whoops!  The service guy?  He was STILL smirking when I left fifteen minutes later.

•  The babies have all hatched and my backyard is now filled with dozens upon dozens of hummingbirds.

Hummingbirds feeding.

•  My vaccuum broke a few days ago.  Newfie owners tell me broken vacuums happen a lot.  I can’t blame Fred, though.  He doesn’t shed much yet.  (He will eventually!)  I spent a few hours researching which vacuum sucks hardest.  Suckage-Research gets confusing though.  I ended up buying a Shark vacuum.  It was on the cheap side, as vacuums go.  I hope it works okay and lasts a while.  If you have a vacuum you love, and it does well with pet hair – leave me a comment or send me an email.  I want to know which vacuums are best!

•  We’ve had a few picture-perfect days lately.  Scorching temperatures will be returning soon.

View of Three Arches Bay – Laguna Beach

•  I’m stuck at home without a car for a few hours today.  I hope I get a chance to play with paint, or ink, or something fun!

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Moving Forward

I’m still updating data storage for my business, but a huge chunk of the process is now behind me.

It has been taking way longer than I expected.

My son is here for another couple weeks which is also keeping me very busy.

We went to see Mission Impossible over the weekend and I really enjoyed it.

I also spent a couple hours Saturday morning making some monoprints with my Gelli Plate.

(I’ve been trying to get the time to make monoprints for about two weeks!)

I really had fun making the prints.

Here’s a slightly blurry iPhone photo of the simplest monoprint I made.

This particular print was made on deli paper.

GP1 © 2015 Suzanne Haggerty W

Monoprint made with a Gelli Plate and printed on deli paper.

Deli paper sounds like a weird thing to make prints on, but it’s actually fantastic.

The above print will be used in my art journal.  The crinkly texture of the painted paper is amazing.

I love it!

I made a few prints to cut up also.

I printed this next one on a large piece of cardstock.

GP2 © 2015 Suzanne Haggerty W

Monoprint on cardstock.

It will be cut up into pieces for various uses including collage.

Making the monoprints was much more arm-intense than I had anticipated.

I had to limit the time I worked on them, and I’ve been in a lot of pain from the (very short) experience.

It was a pain-pill-popping weekend as a result.

I’m already trying to figure out ways to make my next attempt easier on my bum arm.

Like most activities in life, I will need to devise ways to modify the arm-involved steps so I’m better able to do them.

(Unfortunately, Fred can’t help me out with monoprinting …

Although, he did manage to get some pink paint on his tail while *trying* to help me.)

Sometimes it strikes me as so strange –

How my life is nine years post-accident.

When I want to do something my arm prevents me from doing, I set out to find a way to do it anyway.

It has just become second nature.

Some things I won’t ever be able to do again … like kayak.

But, many things I CAN do if I can just figure out a way to modify the steps involved.

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Data Storage

I might go missing for a couple days.

I’m in the middle of a massive data storage update.

Data storage is an ongoing problem for photographers.

RAW files are enormous and take up a tremendous amount of storage space.

In addition, you need to back-up all those huge files multiple times.

I was due for a storage increase prior to getting my new camera.

Now that I have the camera, I can’t work without a lot more data storage.

The Canon 5DS R shoots 51 megapixel photos – the largest of any camera.

(Someone else is sure to come out with a camera that shoots even more megapixels by next week.)

Each photo I take now, with my new camera, is more than twice the size of the photos I was taking a month ago.

My need for increased data storage has become urgent.

I admit, I crossed my fingers and held my breath as I began the process of migrating and increasing storage.

(I’m moving up to a whopping 60 TB of storage!!)

What if my computer and Drobos BLOW UP from all the hours of hard work they’re doing?

Don’t laugh – the fear is real.

Lights are flashing and my computer and Drobos are churning 24/7 right now.

I’ll try to be back to blogging soon.

Isn’t my life EXCITING?

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This and That …

•  Fred has been out and about with me a LOT lately.

He’s been very well behaved as I go about my day.

He either sits, or lays down next to me, while I do whatever it is I need to do.

“I’ll just take a tiny nap while I wait,” says Fred.

Of course, I try not to take Fred places where he’ll be an inconvenience to anyone.

He’s well behaved, but he’s also LARGE.

I’m proud of him, though.

All of my hard work has paid off with a very well behaved dog.

(Did I just jinx myself by writing that?  Will Fred chase an imaginary rabbit inside the next business I take him to?)

•  I picked up Racing the Sun by Karina Halle yesterday.  I’m in the mood for a light, romance, read.  I enjoyed her previous novel, Where Sea Meets Sky, so I’m hoping to enjoy this one too.  (Areas of New Zealand mentioned in Where Sea Meets Sky have been incorporated into my plans for visiting NZ this winter!)

•  I’ve already been exceptionally busy with my son’s visit.  We’re trying to knock out things like vision checks, dentists, etc., while he’s home.  A mom’s job is never done ….

•  I watched Interstellar the other night.  I think I’m the only person who hadn’t already seen it?  And, how could I not have seen it?  I have a long-time crush on Matthew McConaughey.  It’s not like me to miss one of his movies.  I loved it.  Oh, and I cried ….

Next up, is the last season of Game of Thrones.  I told my son I’d wait for his visit so we could watch it together.

•  We’ve had some beautiful evenings this summer.

Summer night in Laguna Beach.

My arm has been flared lately so I haven’t done as much shooting as I want/need to do.

I tend to shoot our local beaches less in the summer anyway.

I prefer them after Labor Day – when the worst of the crowds are gone.

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Even Hopelessly Unartistic People Can Have an Art Journal

I’ve gotten a few questions about my art journal.

I think of myself as a creative person, but not an artistic one.

I’ve never taken a single art class.

Up until a month or two ago, I had never drawn anything other than a stick figure.

So, what am I doing playing with an art journal?

What IS an art journal?

And, for that matter, why would an unartistic person want to have one?

I started off coloring in an adult coloring book to keep me busy on some long flights.

Then, I challenged myself to learn to draw a “real” face.

I discovered I actually CAN learn how to do a few artsy-type things if I put my mind to it.


A person I painted in my art journal!

I’ve always thought people are either born artistic or not.

It turns out art is a lot like photography.

Sure, the truly talented folks stand out from the rest.

But *anyone* can learn a handful of basic skills and improve quite a bit with some practice.

butterflyAJ © 2015 Suzanne Haggerty W

Collage with inks, stamps, old newspaper – from my art journal.

I wish I had more time to devote to learning art – and many other things also.

Time, however, is something I never have enough of.

I decided an art journal might be a nice, small, project to take on.

Art has been proven to be good for your brain, your health, and your mental well being.

I may not have a LOT of time, but I can try to devote a little.

You can make an art journal out of anything.

I use a mixed media book, but you can make one from loose leaf paper, an old book, and/or a multitude of other things.

Also, you can do whatever you want IN your art journal once you have one.

Some people use them as “journals” and write a lot … sketching in them also only when they feel like it.

On the other end of the spectrum are people who do nothing BUT art in their art journals … and never write/journal anything.

I’ve seen examples of art journals with every type of art imaginable in them -including photographs!

People collage, draw, paint, sculpt, sew, glue, etc., etc.

I was surprised to see so many people who can’t draw keeping beautiful, amazing, art journals.

(Why did I think you had to know how to draw to have an art journal?)

An art journal is nothing more than a book of some type.

You can put anything you want in it.

And …?

If you don’t like what you’ve done, you can either paint over the entire page and begin again.

Or, you can flip to a new page instead.

No one ever has to “see” your mistakes and blunders.

I only get small snippets of time to play in my art journal.

And, I figure the first couple journals I fill up will be art disasters.

I think it’s okay.

Who really cares if I fill up a book with bad art?

It’s fun.

It’s relaxing.

And … if all the research is correct, I’m doing something good for my brain in the process.

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The Weekend

I had plans for this weekend.

I had simple plans for beach time, a nice night out, a reunion with my son, some photography time, and a couple hours of art time.

My son, the Texas son, arrived home late Friday night.

He’s been in summer school since May, and now he has a couple weeks off before fall session begins.

He was last home for a quick weekend in June.

He was SHOCKED to see how much Fred has grown.

(Fred’s gigantic size is something you can’t really *get* unless you see him in person.  It isn’t fully conveyed in photographs.)

Anyway, my daughter surprised me by deciding to come visit also since her little brother was home.

A gaggle of her friends came along.

And that is how I ended up having a big  party  group at my house over the weekend.

I didn’t expect people at the house, other than my son.

As a result, I had pulled out an entire store’s worth of art supplies late Friday.

My house looks like a craft store vomited all over the place.

But, as unprepared as I was, I think it all worked out okay.

Everyone got fed and appeared to have a good time.

No one seemed to mind my kitchen table being covered in art supplies.

I had hoped to spend a big chunk of the weekend making prints with my gelli plate, but maybe that will happen later this week?

By the way, if you’re interested in playing with a gelli plate, it’s best to use cheap craft paints with it.

They have more water in the paint than “good” paint – which makes them great for work on a gelli plate.

(I pick up craft paints when they go on sale for 40-60 cents each.)

Anyway, other than all of THAT, my remaining time consisted of all the usual stuff like cleaning and laundry.

Fred has been shedding his puppy coat so I find I spend a lot of time either vacuuming,

And/or chasing dog hair tumbleweeds across the house.

Oh, Fred!

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Nine Years

Yesterday was the nine year anniversary of my car accident.

I admit, I’ve been “off” all week … not sleeping well, emotional, stressed.

But, in reality, a lot of other stuff has been going on in my life lately too.

One year ago, I wrote about beginning a search for a service dog to help me.

Fred has now been with me for almost seven months.

He turned nine months old yesterday.

Fred The Newf  —  My Service Dog Extraordinaire

In this last year, I’ve had some big changes.

I had record setting sales for my business.  It made for an incredibly busy work (and travel) year.

And, for the last seven months I’ve spent a huge amount of time on Fred’s training.

Fred – tired and messy after our hike last night.

I really had no idea how all-consuming it would be to have Fred as part of my life.

Puppies need a lot of attention.

Puppies who are training to be service dogs need NON-STOP attention.

And …?

I have one working arm.

That makes all the training harder.

(I can see why people, who can afford it, spend $20,000 to get a two year old fully trained service dog.)

But, at the same time, it’s been worth it.

Fred and I are SO bonded … we are like “one.”

Being together constantly, training all the time – it creates a very strong intuitive bond.

I know, as Fred gets older, he will continue to become more and more of a help to me.

My “situation” with my pain/arm/shoulder has improved also.

Paul Newman has been the best thing to ever happen to my arm.

(And, that takes nothing away from all the other medical people who have helped me SO much!)

I imagine I will always live with pain as my companion.

But, there’s no doubt I can *manage* my pain much better these days as long as I see Paul Newman regularly.

I still have bad pain days and flare-ups.

Most of the time, though, they’re less severe and don’t last as long as they have in the past.

With less pain, I can do more and live my life better.

I don’t want to sugar coat things …

I live with constant pain.

That’s something most people never have to experience to the degree I do.

Every day I have challenges where I can’t lift something, or open something, or carry something, or DO something.

It’s a frustration that doesn’t go away.

Pain and disability are constants in my life post-accident.

However, my situation is a lot better than it was.

And really, nine years later, that is what I’m grateful for.

Life is better than it was.

It might be improving with slow baby steps but that’s okay.

I’m happy with ANY improvements.

It’s just so nice to know I’m in a better spot now than I was a year ago.

And a much, MUCH, better spot than I was five years ago.