Saturday, August 22, 2015

Artists' Journal Workshop: Personal Favorite Supplies from Cathy Johnson

I am on hold for Cathy Johnson's Artist's Journal Workshop book at the library right now, so I looked more into and found this great page while I'm waiting. She lists all of her favorite supplies for painting and artistic journaling. I'm in love!

I have always liked the idea of using watercolors out and about, but haven't tinkered with the supplies much. Mostly, I get overwhelmed by the idea of getting all the supplies together, making sure I had everything, and then "setting out" to find the right place. By then, it's a big thing in my head, and the thought of going out and doing it sounds like a whole lot of work, and maybe it would be easier to stay in and take a nap? No more! (Well, not no more napping, naps are good, too.) With these little tools, it would be easy to keep supplies in my car, and use inspiration as it comes to me. Or throw them in a tote bag when I may have down time, and just go from there. True artistic journaling.

Seriously? Here she uses a recycled Altoids tin with little trays of color, a tiny spritzer with water, and a tiny pencil and pen. Genius! She stuffs some good watercolor paper into a notebook skin and she's good to go! TWO THINGS to carry that can fit in your purse.

This is a little more like me. I might need more colors than an Altoids box affords. Luckily, I have a little tray of paints from when I was very young that words perfectly for this.

And lastly:

A little spray bottle that she uses to wet the paints in her tins, to add texture, etc., and she has a nesting cup that fits on top, too!

Go to her website below for more great stuff, it's fantastic! And if you haven't checked out her book yet, find that, as well:

Find it here

Please see Cathy's post, here:

Artists' Journal Workshop: Personal Favorite Supplies: What Journaling Supplies Work for YOU? We all like to see what other artists enjoy using in their journals; I started our with jus...

Monday, August 3, 2015

"Dog Days of Summer" Library Display

Thought I'd bring out one of my displays of August past by showing you...

Relax in the Dog Days of Summer - August 2013

I really had fun with this one. It's very simple. I found an image of a dog laying in the grass like this and wanted to basically make a display out of it. I had a volunteer cut out my little grassy pieces and pick out the letters. I drew the dog because the picture I had couldn't be blown up without a lot of pixellation. Add in a ton of books of all ages featuring dogs - and Dog Days of Summer came to life.

See more displays like this here.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Book Review: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Image from

Book Review: 
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Scribner. May 2014. ISBN: 978-1476746586

I waited a long time in line for this book at the library. When I first put myself on the holds list, I was 213th in line, and with a little bit of patience (and a lot of copies in circulation!), it finally landed on my desk. Problem was, when I got it I really wasn't in the mood for a WWII historical novel that was over 500 pages long, and I had a bunch of other books to read as well. I let it sit on my desk, silently judging me for not passing it on to the next eager patron on the waiting list, and just before I was about to check it in and send it on its way, I had a sudden urge to give it the benefit of the doubt. I would prove that I wasn't interested! I would just read a few pages...and now here I am, writing this review.


This book follows the stories of two children before and during WWII and leads up to their ultimate convergence in the occupied French town of Saint-Malo. Spanning several years, the story is told from the alternating viewpoints of orphan Werner Pfenning, who grows up in the mining town of Zollverein in Germany, and a blind French girl named Marie-Laure, whose father works as a locksmith for the Natural History Museum in Paris. Werner lives in a children's home with his sister Jutta, and becomes especially good with radios. He gets the attention of the Third Reich, and is eventually recruited into a Hitler Youth school. Marie-Laure meanwhile, learns how to navigate without sight through Paris with the help of her father, who builds her a small replica of the city. She and her father eventually must flee Paris due to the occupation, and go to live with her great-uncle in Saint Malo, a tiny island off of the coast of France.


This book was beautiful in every aspect of the story - the characters, the plotting, the language, the detail. The language was especially incredible to me - all at once poignant, but not overwrought - leaving little images, or sounds, or textures, lingering in your head. The feel of being in Saint Malo smelling the sea air as a thousand snails crawl at your feet. The sense of dread as you wait in a truck beside Werner in a field full of sunflowers. It was easy to get hooked right away - Doerr's short chapters alternate voices, giving you a new perspective every few pages. This is great for short attention spans, and for short chunks of reading time (me on my lunch break, for example). Even as the story shifts from 1944 Saint Malo on the day that it is being barraged with bombs, to 1940 Paris as Marie-Laure and her father evacuate the city, Doerr's use of present tense makes everything feel crisp and of-the-moment.

It's a gorgeous story through and through, and those 531 pages were worth every word. Moreover, as does good literary fiction, it really reminds you that not everything is black and white, and makes you question what you would do under similar circumstances.

You'll like this book if you like:
  • great characterization
  • descriptive language
  • historical fiction
  • realism with no sugar coatings

And just for kicks, check out this video of author Anthony Doerr talking about All the Light We Cannot See!