My Favorite Art Journaling Supplies

Circa 2013. I’m new to Pinterest, and I’m seeing all these amazing pins about art journaling. I pin each one I like until I decide that I’m going to try this. I jump in my Jeep and drive to Michael’s. I wander the aisles, trying to figure out where ‘guess-oh’ would be. I ask the saleslady. “Guess-oh? You mean gesso?” Oh. It’s pronounced jess-oh. She leads the way to the acrylic/watercolor/oil painting aisle. Oy vey there’s a lot to choose from!

Fast forward to today, and art journaling is one of my biggest tools to sort out my thoughts and decompress from adulting. It’s overwhelming to get started, and there are so many different items to choose from. I want to share the art journaling supplies I use the most and the items that if I had to do it over again, I would buy first. IMG_0094I tried to stick to supplies you wouldn’t normally find around the house. I didn’t put an art journal in here because with the gesso, you can make any paper you want your journal…take an old magazine, glue a few pages together, give it a coat of gesso, and you’re ready to go!

1) Clear or white gesso to prep pages

2) Matte medium or mod podge to use as a glue for collaging paper

3) Gel gloss to “seal” your pages and help create layers. By sealing with gel gloss, you don’t have to worry as much about smearing your previous layers. It goes on milky but dries clear. If you want you can create texture by drawing in wet gel gloss and letting it dry.

These first three are sometimes called ‘mediums’ in the art world.

4) Water brushes are great–they’re portable and easy to use. Just fill with water and gently squeeze the reservoir.

5) Heat gun-I’m impatient and like to speed up the drying time by using this tool. You can substitute a hair dryer instead, too.

6) Water soluble wax pastels-I like Caran D’aiche but there are other brands available too. You can use them like a crayon, or use your water brush to pick up some color. You can also mix these with the mediums to get more texture and interesting effects.

7) Faber Castell gelatos are one of my favorites. I love to use these to make backgrounds and I also mix them with mediums to use for getting more textures. Like the wax pastels you can use them like a crayon or use them with the water brush.

8) White gel pen-Sakura gelly roll pens are my favorite. It’s amazing how adding some white hightlihgts makes any page pop–more vibrant and interesting to look at.

9) My favorite pen to write in my art journal with is Micron archival ink pens. They come in different sizes–03, 05, and 08 are the ones I use the most. Archival ink is important because once it is dry, you can work on top of it with other liquid mediums and materials and it shouldn’t smear.

10) Last, are my Winsor Newton watercolors. They sell several different sized sets, from small ones designed to be portable to large sets. They have excellent pigment for a new artist and aren’t super expensive, especially if you take advantage of a sale or use a coupon.

These are just my personal faves. Everyone has their own opinion, but if I had to choose, this are my choices. What would you have on your list? Leave me a comment! 🙂


Rainy Days & Mondays

I stumbled on the Carpenters (I’m realizing I like my parents’ generation of music–Journey (so deliciously cheesy!) to Tom Petty (I feel like he just gets me) to now the Carpenters. I woke up this morning to a rainy Monday morning. This wonderful weekend flew by and I almost felt like I had a mild hangover when the boys woke me up–(I need to drink more water and less coffee/tea!) and am just feeling melancholy.

I don’t think it’s something to be medicated. I think it’s just a normal part of being human–the rainy day makes me want to do comforting things. A hot cup of coffee, sharing a blanket with my boys, and open my Bible that I have honestly not opened in a week or so. I went to Church Saturday evening…it’s so interesting to me how insidious the devil is. Dillon and I were running late and Dillon was pretty tired. I asked him if he just wanted to go home and he told me no, he wanted to go to Church. They have an amazing kids’ church, and Dillon had a blast the last time he went, but the last few Sundays he has been insisting on going to the adult’s sermon. I love the men in their 60s/70s that come up to him. Dillon has the same snap button cowboy shirts that they are wearing! But my point is, it’s so easy to convince myself that I can just go next week, and this is exactly what I need to NOT do.

The sermon was great. We are created to worship. We all worship…something. People tend to think of worshiping as going to church and singing songs about God, but it’s more than that. It’s whatever you spend your money on, your time doing. I heard someone say whatever you spend your money on, there your heart is. I thought about it, and it’s true. I haven’t had a haircut in who knows how long, but I will happily fork over money for the boys to get theirs cut. I have to be careful because Hobby Lobby and Michaels are so tempting and it’s easy to get carried away, buying art supplies I honestly don’t need.

My God is a jealous god, and rightfully so. Jealousy might have a negative connotation, but I honestly would feel hurt if God didn’t care about my love for Him. But He does. We were created to worship, and we were created by Him. I struggle with humility, the need for others’ approval, and doing everything for His glory. To paraphrase, “I must become less, and He must become more”.

I realized this morning I haven’t done a devotional since June 12th. So this rainy Monday morning melancholiness is a good thing. It pushes me into His arms, when I’ve been wandering a little too far away…

Jesus Calling by Sarah Young and My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers are still my devotionals.

Proverbs 17:22 “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” I love reading the notes in my Bible. “To be cheerful is to be ready to greet others with a welcome, a word of encouragement, an enthusiasm for the task at hand, and a positive outlook on the future. Such people are as welcome as pain-relieving medicine.”

Wow. That is perfect for me to remember as I go into work this afternoon. A large part of my job is doing patient interviews, assessing their pain, working the doctors and staff to implement medications and non-medication pain relief such as massage, TENs & other therapist driven pain relieving measures, aromatherapy, etc. But how important is distraction? I remember the last interview I did, a patient who was a little difficult to work with because she is so honest with her thoughts and emotions. I enjoyed talking with her about our common interest in art, and as I eventually wrapped up our interview, she asked me to ask the floor nurse for her pain pill. “I got so caught up in our conversation I forgot about our pain!” How amazing is that? Not that I think I deserve a pat on the back but the fact that just by sitting and talking with her, enjoying each other’s company was enough to override her brain and nerves telling her that her recently surgically repaired knee was inflamed is amazing!

I love being around people who are encouraging, cheerful, enthusiastic about getting the job done (it has to be done–why not have fun while doing it??) and look at the future with a sense that no matter what happens, everything will be okay.

I love being around people like that, and I want to be a person like this.

I remember how I felt this time last year. I was miserable, and although I know I put on a happy face for acquaintances, those who knew me best probably didn’t think I was the funnest person to be around, and I don’t blame them. My spirit was overwhelmed, crushed, dried up. You can’t give love freely if you don’t love yourself.

My Bible tells me this verse is closely associated with Proverbs 15:13, “A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit.” Yes! This is so, so true. Like I wrote yesterday, by changing my negative, pessimistic outlook on life, I unconsciously replaced my heartache with joy. I don’t have to think about smiling at strangers when I’m practicing an attitude of gratitude, I just want to and so I do. But last year, thinking that I honestly didn’t want to be on this Earth anymore, I was so inwardly focused I didn’t even notice the people around me. I was sucked into my cesspool of misery.

This verse has an annotation that directs me to Proverbs 12:25, “Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.” Being anxious is one of my biggest downfalls. I worry about everything, real and imaginary. I’ve always had an inclination to do this and somehow convinced myself at some point that if I think about something bad happening and how I would handle it, it won’t come true. This is so morbid, and even extends to worrying about the boys and Nate when they drive 3 hours away to see his mom. What would I do if they were in a car accident and gone to me forever? The thought brings tears to my eyes and my shoulders and neck tighten up. Why do I do this? Circling back to Sarah Young’s devotional for today–God is saying, “Jenni–stop trying to micromanage My job and enjoy the life you’ve been blessed with!” The idea that I’m powerful enough to micromanage God is so absurd it makes me want to laugh and shake my head. What I should be doing instead is covering them in prayer as they travel, asking God and His angels to guide them and protect them from harm. I can relax, He has made me so many promises and hasn’t broken one yet. He promised me He wants what is best for me and so I can let go of this worry and the subsequent anxiety…

This leads to Isaiah 50:4. I don’t get it, so I read up to the beginning of the chapter. God is talking about Israel, who has turned to other nations for help, and essentially rejecting God. This is crazy because God is almighty and powerful, only wants what is best for us, and only asks us to love Him in return. But by turning to other nations, Israel compromised and sold themselves out and fell into sin.

What’s even worse is that God had promised to fight for Israel, if they would only trust Him. This is obvious in hindsight, which is 20/20. But how many times have I looked to other things to protect me, to fight for me, leading God to say to me (I imagine a father and a wayward daughter)

“When I came [to rescue you], why was there no one?

When I called, why was there no one to answer?

Was My arm too short to deliver you?

Do I lack the strength to rescue you?

By a mere [command] I dry up the sea,

I turn rivers into a desert…

I clothe the heavens with darkness and make sackcloth [a very coarse, rough fabric like burlap] its covering

(This is beyond confusing–according to Google and Barnes’ Notes on the Bible–“Alluding to clouds. Sackcloth was a coarse and dark cloth which was usually worn as an emblem of mourning…to say, therefore, that the heaves were clothed with sackcloth, is one of the most striking and impressive figures which can be conceived.” The Pulpit Commentary says, “God means to assert his power of leaving all nature in absolute darkness, if he so choose-a power necessarily belonging to him who said, “Let there be light; and there was light”. Yikes–God is reminding us just how powerful He is…why are we turning others for help instead of Him??)I keep reading and my conscience prickles. Isaiah 50:10-11, “Let the one who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust isn’t he name of the Lord and rely on their God. But now, all you who light fires and provide yourselves with flaming torches, go, walk in the light of your fires and of the torches you set ablaze. This is what you shall receive from my hand: You will lie down in torment.” This doesn’t sound like a loving God at all! I read the footnotes:”If we walk by our own light and reject God’s, we become self-sufficient, and the result of self-sufficiency is torment. When we place confidence in our own intelligence, appearance, or accomplishments instead of in God, we risk torment later when these strengths fade.” Well, that makes sense. And I’m completely guilty of relying on my own self instead of looking to God. I need to become less, and He needs to become more.

An Attitude of Gratitude

My mommy juice now is tea. A glass of kombucha (fermented tea) a day, and a hot cup of tea while I work or while I’m winding down for bed. Tension Tamer is great, and I like Yogi’s Invigorating tea with the flavor of nectarines. Yogi is fun too because their tags have sentiments on them. Today I used two bags and they read, “Spread the light; be the lighthouse” and “An attitude of gratitude brings opportunities”.

I like the sentiments and I decide to glue them into my planner. As I flip the page, I realize the sticker I put on yesterday reads, “Have an attitude of gratitude”. I know this is a common sentiment, but it’s pretty crazy my tea ends up having the same phrase on the tag. I believe in signs, so here goes.

I’ve noticed a lot of changes in my life, positive changes. It’s amazing how things happened when I decided I needed a change. I love my life right now…I still get overwhelmed and frustrated, but it’s so much easier to put things into perspective.

Taking the boys out of daycare has been amazing. I look forward to going to work, to interacting with my patients. Then I look forward to coming home and slipping into bed to wake up to my boys the next morning. The two extra days to stay on top of laundry and household chores have been so good.

I’m so thankful to have a husband like Nate, who lives for his family and holds himself to such a high standard. As I watch him check the oil in my Jeep, I catch myself thinking, “Man, he’s hot…” Yet he’s the first one to jump in and do laundry and cook dinner, doing what needs to be done through the day to provide for his family financially and then coming home and working tirelessly, without complaint.

I’m thankful for my boys. Logan is at the stage (I say the last hurdle before he’s more independent!) where I have to keep a constant vigil to keep him from harm’s way. Walking the fine line between letting him learn even though it means he might get a bump or two. Dillon is such a tender hearted young man–he looks after his mama like his dad does. He knows I get lost in my head sometimes and tend to forget things, but I when I remember that I forgot something, he’s right there next to me, “Here it is, Mom. I grabbed it for you.”

Dillon told me he doesn’t like feeding the animals in the morning–the smell of the kibble makes him gag. So he asked if his job could be getting Logan ready in the morning–getting him dressed. He is such a good big brother and Logan worships him. I love the relationship they’re forming and I pray it lasts forever.

Last New Year’s Eve, I was such a hot mess but I couldn’t see a way out. It truly felt like this was just the way it was, and I was helpless. Now I know this is a lie. My mom and stepdad write down their hopes for the year every year on New Year’s Eve–not resolutions per se, but what they want to see manifested. I honestly don’t remember what I wrote down, but I do remember feeling disgusted with myself, with my drinking, and how it was affecting my relationship with my loved ones, and more importantly, the way it was affecting my self esteem. But I didn’t know how to let it go, because I needed a crutch to get me through my self-created unhappiness. Ironically, the alcohol was the main contributor of that depression and misery.

I couldn’t imagine how things could possibly get better, but SJ and Mom said it doesn’t matter–just write down what you want to have happen. So I did. I knew the morning rush & commute to get to work was too much and my mental health was suffering. I truly thought that was just the way it had to be–a depressing, disheartening lie.

Mom and SJ flew home to Maine, taking the scroll that had all of our hopes for 2018 with them. We went back to our regular routines, and while I tried to cut back on my wine, I wasn’t successful. But through a sequence of events since I started this blog, things have fallen into place. I went from feeling miserable because I felt like I was an exhausted hamster, running a wheel and not accomplishing anything to feeling…joyful and content.

Really, not a whole lot has changed…I’m still working in the same job, for the same people, just 16 hours less a week. But that small change that I was so afraid to ask for, coupled with changing how I think about things, has made all the difference.

My mindset has changed. I’ve listened to countless podcasts, read blogs, self-help books, and found my faith and my church (again). I’ve realized 3 core truths that I truly believe. I might find more eventually, which would be nice. Each truth has felt like a key, a way to release old, or even false beliefs.

1) I don’t need to worry about what others think about me or my life. The only ones I need to concern myself with is my God, and myself. As long as I can go to bed at the end of the day and be at peace with myself and my actions for the day, it doesn’t matter what other people think or do, say or believe. This might sound selfish, but I’m realizing it’s the opposite. By giving myself permission to be true to me and stop trying to please everyone, I open myself up to being real with people, and I find it’s easier to love others when I’m at peace with myself.

2) Everything is neutral. Alcohol is neutral. Death is neutral. It’s how we think about alcohol and death that makes them “good”, “bad”, etc. Dillon asked me if alcohol is bad. I told him no, alcohol is not bad. But just like anything you try in life, you have to ask yourself if you like the results you’re getting. Having a glass of wine is not bad. Having ten glasses of wine isn’t necessarily bad, as long as you don’t mind the results you get (which will likely be a nasty hangover, but I digress!) 🙂 I finished explaining to Dillon that I didn’t like the results I was getting with my drinking, and so I made the choice to stop. I told him it didn’t mean I was never going to drink again, but my relationship with Dillon was suffering because of me drinking wine, so I stopped drinking.

This is cognitive behavioral therapy–the think/feel/act cycle to be specific. I heard about this concept in Rachel Hart’s podcast, Take a Break, and it was revolutionary to me–it changed the way I viewed wine and everything else. Your life is pretty much black and white; your thoughts are what color your world. When I described my world as bleak and gray, it was mostly due to my pessimistic outlook on things.

3) You have passions for a reason. For so long I shut myself down whenever I felt creative. I would tell myself, “You’re not an artist. You don’t know how to draw. You’re being silly…” Why? Why was I squelching that little whisper, pulling away from my soul tugging at me, urging me to create? When I gave myself permission to play, and stopped comparing my beginning to someone else’s middle (comparing my beginner art to those with years of experience), and just enjoyed the process, a whole new world opened up to me and it was amazing! Colors and textures, the smell of gesso and another unfurling of a white page or canvas to reveal hidden beauty, playing with new ideas and going down rabbit trails of “What if I try this…” and “What would happen if I do that…” I don’t do it for the accolade or the money. It’s the joy of the process and I could literally sit and play and create all day, everyday.

Growing up, I had a passion for medicine that led me to becoming a nurse. I still like being a nurse, but I don’t feel a passion to keep going to school to further my career. I don’t feel called to return to the ER. I’m content where I’m at. I get to sit and talk to patients, something I love. I get to have a job that allows me the flexibility to make my family a priority. For my coworkers and my boss, Sue, I am at a loss to say how thankful I am.

When I talk to teenagers, I tell them to follow their passions. They do not have to follow the cliche of graduate high school, go to college, get married, have babies and work for corporate America. They have interests for a reason! Pursue whatever tugs at your heart, pulls at your mind, and makes you feel alive! Do it with reckless abandon and everything will fall into place. You might not be a millionaire, but you also won’t be wasting your life doing something you hate, counting down the years to retirement.

I am grateful for my life, and the change to soak up every second of it and try to capture these precious moments in words and pictures so someday I can look back on a life well lived, and a life I loved living.

Beautiful, Messy Life

Last weekend was a busy one with the Kid’s Fishing Day Saturday morning, our neighbor/Dillon’s classmate’s Colton’s birthday party at the Children’s Museum Saturday afternoon, church Saturday evening, and then a start of summer BBQ at Dillon’s school. I knew Dillon was tired but I didn’t want to not go to the small BBQ and be rude.

This weekend was more challenging than most for me. Usually Nate is able to go with us as we do things around town. It’s amazing how having another person makes it 10x easier. But it was his weekend on call and ironically, just as we were getting ready to go do something, he inevitably would get called in. He was called 5 times this weekend, working over 16 hours in 2 days after having worked all week long.

We went to the Kid’s Fishing Day at Wadsworth and met up with a classmate and friend of Dillon’s, Amaris & her family. Sweet Amaris is so good with Dillon and Logan and is the sweetest little mother hen. My dad is involved with Walleyes Unlimited so was helping out with the Fishing Day. With Grandpa’s coaching, Dillon is getting pretty good at casting!

Grandpa Scott teaching Dillon how to cast

Afterwards we loaded up and headed to Target to get Colton’s birthday present, and then headed over to the Children’s Museum.

A science experiment about mixing colors…

Dillon needed to know what was going to happen, who was going to be there, what were we going to do after…as he peppered me with questions from the backseat, I tried to explain to him it didn’t matter who was there, we would have fun even if we were the only ones! He reminded me of ME when I was younger…having to know every detail, trying to mentally prepare himself for what was going to happen. I’m not sure why we do this, instead of being in the moment and taking it as it comes. Instead we let our worry rob us of the joy of living in the moment.

We went to the BBQ and I enjoyed myself. Nate got called in once again, so I was on my own with the boys again. It was at the school, and Dillon’s classmates’ families were amazing and so helpful, taking Logan for a bit so I could eat. We managed to get them fed, and then they went outside to play. It was hot and dry–perfect for water balloons.

The time flew by and before I knew it it was time to get home. I told Dillon to pick up the busted balloon pieces like his classmates, and he realized his good time was coming to an end and lost it. Full meltdown. I knew he was tired, but this was way out of proportion. Then he started to talk so negatively about himself…His angry tirade continued as I loaded him and Logan up in my Jeep and headed home. “I hate myself!”…”No one likes me!” “I wish I was dead!” I glanced at him in the rear view mirror, trying to figure out where on Earth this was coming from. We made it home and I put a tired Logan to bed, then sat with Dillon and talked. I didn’t know what to tell him, so I just told him that those thoughts were from the devil, who hates us and God and wants to make God sad by taking us away from Him. By letting ourselves believe these negative thoughts, we are letting the devil win. I could see this slowly sink in.

Dillon and I talked, and I told him the iPad and PS4 needed to be put away. I don’t know if he’s watching something that might be triggering these ideas, but it’s summer anyway and there are better things to be doing than screen time. We cuddle until he’s calm, and Nate came home.

We talk, venting our frustrations about the 17 hours he spent working this weekend instead of being there with us, about Dillon’s meltdown, the upcoming week. He’s exhausted, and so am I, but dinner, laundry, and little boys don’t take care of themselves. We get the boys fed, bathed, and put to bed. We fold one last load of laundry and mutually agree we’re done for the evening. I am overwhelmed, and I don’t try to hide my anxiety. I’m sure everyone thinks I’m a hot mess most of the time, which isn’t far from the truth. But I’ve got an amazing husband and Jesus, and together we continue to raise up our boys and build our dreams.

I tried to unwind with my art, but I just felt…stuck. Like something was plugged up. So I did some yoga to try to loosen up my stiff back, then went upstairs. As I passed through the kitchen I noticed the lightning storm, and couldn’t help being mesmerized by it. As I watched the lightning flash, I was finally still enough to let my mind work through everything I was feeling. I went back downstairs.

So I’m sitting here in the dark, the lightning settling down, listening to worship music. I set it to random and the first song was King of My Heart, a song I feel speaks to my soul. I feel like I’m in this plateau, this middle place, like I’m stagnating and I know exactly why. I am still not giving up my need for anesthetizing myself, I’m not trusting God’s plan for me, and this only leads to anxiety. Watching Dillon, it was like he was acting out how I felt inside. I was trying to take him place to place, so he could have fun, because I love him. And instead of trusting me, he was questioning me every step of the way, letting his negative self talk get in the way of having a good time with his friends. Just like God is trying to lead me to better places, and I’m questioning Him and and doubting His plan for me. No wonder I get so anxious…

I signed up for Kelly Rae Robert’s online class that started June 1st. The purpose is to reveal the negative way we talk to ourselves without realizing it. I opened today’s email and read it. Divine intervention–I read it to Dillon in terms he can understand. We decide we’re going to make our own rock–a symbol to carry to remind ourselves–him to be joyful in how he talks to himself and me to have faith in God that He will work everything out.

We worked together and made our rocks. We’re still working on it, but I’m hopeful we can change this negativity. If we wouldn’t talk to others this way, then why do we do it to ourselves?

A Mother’s Heart

a mother's heart

My mom always says growing older is not for the faint of heart, but I’m realizing being a mom isn’t either. It has a way of revealing my insecurities and doubts, magnifying my shortcomings, and encouraging me to be a better person.

Dillon is getting older, and with that more independence. He struggles with containing his emotions and has a temper that gets him into trouble. Yet he has a heart of gold and is hardest on himself; a difficult combination to figure out how to discipline.

I remember when my brother was about Dillon’s age, he stole a piece of candy from the restaurant in Shelby. My parents saw it and made him take it back and apologize. He never did it again. I remember my other brother stealing a piece of gum from the grocery store, but he got caught. My mom picked him up and after a good scare from the friendly police officer, he never did it again.

Dillon is about the same age as they both were, and the temptation was too much for him as well. He saw a TracFone cell lying around and decided he needed it. Nate saw it and made him return it right away, but still the feeling resides–are we failing as parents?

This world has changed so much since I was in high school in 2000. Cell phones were around then, and I had one, but the only game it had on it was Snake. There was no apps to download, no sexting…

I wonder how we keep our kids from making mistakes that could have a ripple effect on the rest of their lives. Discipline–are we too lenient? Too strict? Spanking doesn’t really work with Dillon, and I believe he’s too old for that anyway. How do we get him to understand with every action, good and bad, comes consequences?

Being a parent is scary–the responsibility to we have to God, our families, and society is huge.

I initially made this background last weekend. I didn’t know quite where I was going with it at the time. Then a few days later Dillon and I went to a BBQ and he was exhausted from a weekend of too much and had an epic meltdown. We came home and I had a little meltdown of my own. I reached out to a mom’s Facebook group and was met with reassurance and advice from women who have been there.

Then I knew exactly what I wanted to do with this piece–that would be named ‘A Mother’s Heart’. I wanted it to be a little shabby, a touch beat up, but a color palette of hope. My process video is on YouTube here, showing how I made it. I originally had glued black beaded lace but decided I didn’t like it…it didn’t quite flow, so I tore it off. The hot glue made some of the canvas peel up, and I could have covered it up, but I loved the effect it gave. The strips of paper are actually tea bags that I rinsed off and dried. The cardboard from the heart came from a package that I received (it was the backing).

The video is sped up 20x and is a little shaky at times…sorry!