I have taken a hiatus from writing here … I think a six month Sabbatical has done its healing. I will be returning soon. Watch for it! First Fridays. That’s July 4th, 2014. See you soon.



Missing Women Found!

Please rejoice with us as my previous post needs this wonderful update…FOUND.
Sadly we still need to deal with this…
We need to hold our government accountable…these women were found because their community used ever means possible to search for them…now let’s find the many who haven’t come home.

Wee Mandala Tutorial

How I Create a mandala from a photograph with Photoshop Elements 11


This is a simple 4 quarters mandala; I call it Feather Mandala.

We will be working in Photoshop Elements 11. To begin pull in images that are potentials for a mandala.

Make copies of each photo so that you don’t accidentally change your original image permanently. Just a reminder, please check what kind of file you are saving. PSE wants to save anything as PSD which is their own proprietary format. However, we need to save all files as j_pegs; so please note that and choose jpg format each time you save, resave, or save as. And all will be well.

Work only with these copies, not your original photos. In fact, once you’ve saved copies, just close your originals.

Step 1: Find an image that you captured with your camera, iPhone, cellphone, iPad or tablet. It must be your own photograph or it will not have the same kind of meaning for you when you meditate on it. This picture is a pair of owl feathers that I keep in a little rock with a hole in it.

ImageStep 2: Really see (not just look at) this image. The best mandalas are composed of radiating lines. These lines will draw your eye inward and back outward. There should be a centre point also called a bindu (Sanskrit for “the point where creation begins”); it is very subtle in this particular mandala, but there is a sense of concentric circles and if you enlarge this you can see a small circle right in the centre.

Step 3:Image

Usually you will want to crop your photo to limit distractions to your mandala. In this crop I’ve used the spine of the dotted feather to pull in the eye to the centre point. This will become the top left side of the mandala. Save as a new image file. Close your original cropped image in case you change your mind or want to begin again. Close the new cropped image. When PSE asks if you want to change say no. You will still have your changes because you already saved once.

Step 5: Pull the cropped image into Photoshop Elements 11 (you “saved as” once you cropped right?)

Step 6: At the top of your screen you will have 3 options: “Quick” “Guided” and “Expert”. For this next step you must choose “Guided”.


 Once you have chosen guided, you will have a new menu bar on the right of your screen.

Touchups (click on the arrow to close this one)

Photo Effects (click on the arrow to close this one)

In Photo Play you will have a few choices.

 Choose Reflection by clicking on the word. Now you have new choices.

Click 1. Add Reflection. Pause, it takes a second or two.

You will see a faint image below your original image in reverse! Ta Da!

You want it to be as close to your original though, so now you choose 2. Eyedropper tool and choose one of the darkest areas of your image. Click!

Now choose 3. Fill background. And watch the magic. Click Done.

Step 7. “Save as” a new file for this image. I usually name it left_side.jpg It won’t stay the left side but it’s helpful for visual thinkers because that’s what it looks like now.


Step 8. Close this file, using “save as” and choosing a new name e.g. “left_side.jpg”. But don’t save the old one with a different name.

Step 9. Now open the “left_side.jpg” file.

Step 10. Rotate it to the left or right depending on where your focal point is. I like to play and try it both ways, just always remember if you do to choose save as so your original file will remain intact.

Step 11. Make a reflection of your “left_side.jpg” file. “Save as” a new file with mandalabase as part of the name. This one would be feather_mandala_base.jpg for instance.


 Step 12. Pull the mandala base file into PSE11. Switch back to Expert mode. Using your Eliptical Marque Tool scribe a circle like so…


It might take some practice, but you can always “undo” these circles until you get it the right size. Also you can move the circle once you’ve scribed it, even if it goes off the picture…

Step 13. Use the “Cut” option to cut the circle out of this image.


 Step 14. Open a new blank document.


Step 15. Choose “transparent” for the Background Contents (bottom choice box).


Step 16. “Ctrl V” to paste your cut circle into the new document.


Step 17. Save as your final name. e.g. “Feather_Mandala_Final.jpg”

Step 18. Print on high quality paper and frame! Meditate on this image frequently and bask in the glow of accomplishment.

Tomorrow I’ll share how to achieve a similar effect using only Picasa and Word. You can download Picasa (free!) from Google … here:


Mail Art – Correspondence to Memory

Mail Art is very dear to my heart, through it I have made many new artist friends and colleagues. It has stretched me to grow into a practice of art that has enriched my life. So…that said what to actually do to convey the memories mail art evokes in me.

I thought back to many of the swaps and trades, “I lost my Marbles”, Gothic Arches, Wreck this Journal. Then it hit me, 2012 was full of art “swaps” and random acts of art, how could I capture it? Hmmm…a perpetual calendar.

With only a week to produce a piece and another Random Act of Art deadline galloping toward me, I realized that I would have to turn to some already made work to come up with a perpetual calendar. One of the most fun things was doing glue pages, glue books, and ATCs with 14 Secrets to a Happy Artist’s Life and 6 Degrees of Creativity – the two online artist groups where I am deeply involved.

I rifled through leftovers. It wasn’t hard, I have a tendency to make extras of everything I do in these trades because sometimes someone hears about it and the deadline has passed. I like to be able to send a little something so that they don’t feel too left out. And hey, I have a daily art practice so it keeps my hand in so to speak.

I found some glue pages (these are 8 x 5 cardstock or ready made index cards covered with collage from magazines, handmade papers, gum wrappers, whatever you see that strikes your fancy. They are often playful, some with hidden messages. Perfect!

I managed to find 10 that were evocative of a month of the year, so I only had to put together two more to come up with a perpetual calendar. The friend I am sending the RAA to is, like me, a bit of a “Dead Head” so each one had a tiny piece with Jerry Garcia’s face or trademark hand with the missing finger on it added to it.

Just in case you’d like a peek … here


Where I live January is always cold and snowy … a black and white world.


In my world, February is a time when I yearn to leap into some sunshine.


The Ides of March … lots of time to read…love it.

Can you find Jerry?



The envelope was created with a single 16 x 20 inch piece of canvas paper. The outside of the envelope was stamped with a tiny script stamp in olive green so that it would sink to the background. Then I painted many coloured yarns front and inside. These symbolized the many “yarns” that have gone between us as we traded mail art and formed deep bonds across oceans and “borders” around the world. Art speaks a language that is understood by everyone!


More “yarns” and postage stamps to make the giftee smile some more…memories in a pretty envelope.


I applied many used postage stamps inside the envelope. It has two heart shaped holes punched in one of the extensions and 3 very long pieces of yarn were inserted. These are used to close the portfolio envelope and to echo the yarn that is inserted into the glue pages so that the perpetual calendar can be hung.

The materials I used for the glue pages that became a month in the perpetual calendar were 8 x 5 inch cardstock and index cards, glue sticks, matte medium, and papers of all sorts, some were torn from hand-painted artist tissue, some were purchased handmade paper, but much of the collage is from magazines, old or the free ones advertising upcoming events.


Materials for the portfolio envelope are 16 x 20 inch canvas paper, acrylic paints mixed with gloss acrylic medium (to enhance flow), a rubber stamp and inking pad, and used postage stamps. Each item also uses a colourful yarn that I used to knit a grandchild a hat called Flower Power.

By using these things I am sharing my art and my daily life with someone I may never sit down with over a cup of tea, but who is part of my life and so we share what is important to us.

I would definitely encourage anyone to do a little mail art. It doesn’t take a great deal of skill or expensive art materials and it revives an old way to make friends and break down borders that after all are artificial since we are all Relations and part of a great family. One recommendation I’d make is not to use metals or metallic substances in your mail art because Customs worldwide will have clanging bells of their metal detectors go off – which will slow down the delivery of your precious cargo.

Mail art is better than penpals in this day and age … it’s a piece of nostalgia with a twist. Thank you to everyone who has shared a piece of art with me…it’s a piece of you that I’ll always treasure.







Spring has me feeling like a kid again (still?) … and so I post this pic to entice you to play a little game with me. Do you know what this is a picture of? Please comment with what you think and maybe you’ll get a surprise.

ATCs anyone?

Over at the Art Therapy Alliance’s  Six Degrees of Creativity  we celebrated the new year and the closing of another session of learning new techniques with a swap called Pocket Change.   How it worked was you sent 4 ATCs and you received 3 ATCs back. Well, smarty pants moi made four times three and got back


ALLLLLLLL these goodies! Whoot! Click on the pic to embiggen and read the fine print. tee hee.

Thanks Gretchen Beth … and Hannah this was so much fun!



Sweet Lulu left Owen Sound and arrived in London, with a new name—Barb Marley! So suits her. Can’t blame a girl. Took on a whole new identity too. Now she seems “married” to Ringo. Don’t they make a lovely couple? Ahhh love…ain’t it grand!


And on another note…glue pages and ATCs arrived safely in Edmonton. ATCs were a little random act of art for a dear friend.


And last, but certainly not least, Erika’s muse arrived safely in Washington, DC! All on the same day! Whoot!!

ImageImageImageShe is actually a journal (even her sleeves! With lots of encouraging sayings, haiku, and snippets of poetry to provide lots of artsy encouragement to Erika!

Now on to prayer flags and knitting for the summer surprise … a wee granddaughter! Whoot!

Almost ready to take wing…

Oh my … this muse is getting excited. She is almost ready herself and her accessories are almost finished too. This has been a learning experience for me, but perhaps Erica is my muse and this project just inspired me to really stretch myself!

Anyway…Sunday night sneak peeks…



Well, I really must dash … much to do … and two little sock monkeys hoping not to keep their Valentines waiting!