Between The Pages Of My Sketchbook

The Good, The Bad, The Overworked, And A Bit Of Promise.

Hello Everyone,

I decide that it would be fun (and real) to give you a look at the pages in my sketchbook. The good, the bad, the really bad and what came of it all.

On Monday morning, after Olivia went to school and Marc was off to work, I sat down on the floor of my studio with a cup of coffee pondering on where to start. Should I draw? Should I paint? Should I work on the commission piece that has been staring at me for weeks? Hmm...

Well, to get the ball rolling, I pulled out my favorite little green sketchbook and started sketching. This led to another cup of coffee, and of course I had to check in on Instagram - don't want to miss anything.  And then back to sketching, listening to music, checking to see if there was anything good in the fridge (no), more sketching, and a lot of charcoal flinging for most of the day. That night, I found myself back on the floor (extremely messy by now) my coffee was replaced with a lovely glass of wine, and I studied everything that I had created. Then thought - what's next? 

So, while I continue to ponder this question - here are, the pages that I worked on over the past three days. Very raw drawings, overworked drawing, bad drawing,  and some that held promise. Along with a random photo of my grandmother standing in front of palm trees -I have no explanation for this, but I just like it. 

Below the sketchbooks are a few additional drawings. I decided work for a while using my non-dominant hand (a challenge on IG from Ivy Newport) which seemed to propel me into creating something real. The last one began with my left hand and I finished it up with my right.





While I love to spend weeks on a drawing like this one, I'm loving this process as well. I believe it is all about embracing imperfections.  They are real and they are beautiful.

Have a beautifully, imperfect week.



Techniques I Use To Stay Inspired.

“The seed of your next art work lies embedded in the imperfections of your current piece. Such imperfections are your guides–valuable, objective, non-judgmental guides to matters you need to reconsider or develop further.” ~David Bayles


Just wondering....

Have you ever been at a creative standstill?  Wanting to create, but just not feeling it. Wandering in and out of your creative space with the hopes that inspiration will whisper in your ear and tell you what to create?  Then, only to find yourself on the couch watching Outlander Season 1 - again!  

Now, I LOVE making art, I love creating and I love hanging out in my little studio. But, every so often I feel resistance and it is usually accompanied by its sidekick, my inner critic. They make quite the duet! Singing and dancing away in my brain - at times, there is even a full blown musical going on inside my head.  In order to get this very distracting duet to exit stage left I have come up with a few little techniques that seem to work for me. Techniques and practices that I would like to share with you.


1. Practice drawing your subject over and over. I have found that when i focus on one subject and draw it over and over on cheap paper, I begin to feel a shift emotionally.  I find that I can keep going and begin experimenting and push myself . I become clear and I get more ideas! I feel inspired! 

(Don't approach this technique with the notion you are going to create art or a finished piece - just practice and allow the shift to take place. It always does.)

2. Pull out your old sketchbooks or art journals and open them to a random page. Lay them all out on the floor. Then just look at them. Look for a common thread in your work - you may be very surprised by how much inspiration you can glean from your past journals.


We are always evolving as artists and our past work is part of the puzzle. This work is our guide, and it has brought us to where we now stand as artists. I believe it will take us to where we need to go as well. I find this exercise very powerful and some of my best ideas have come from looking at my old sketchbooks and art journals. There is no better creative guide than what lies between the pages of your journals.


3. Get out of your house/studio. Take one art journal and one pencil and go for a walk. I know this sounds so simple, but walking down the streets of your neighborhood will free your mind. Make quick sketches of what ever catches your eye. Oh, and leave your phone at home - I promise you will see more. What a welcome relief to leave it behind.

4. Go to the library and check out books on artist you know and artist you don't know. Then, light a candle, put on relaxing music, pour your self a cup of tea (or glass of wine:) and immerse yourself in the richness of what lies between the pages of those beautiful books. There is always so much to learn from other artists, and it is so good for the soul.

5. If you have children, visit their bookshelves. Or, visit the children's section in your local bookstore or library. I love pouring over the illustrations in children's books - they are beautiful, magical, emotional and quite often nostalgic.

6. Take an art class. It is a great way to try out new techniques, connect with other creative people and hold yourself accountable. There are so many beautiful online class available now, and you can do them anytime of day or night. Below are a few of my favorites:

Ivy Newport

Jeanne Oliver

Kara Bullock

So, should you be faced with  the cast and crew of Les Miserables performing in you head, then give some of these little tips a try. And, just in case you were wondering, I love Les Miserables and I have the soundtrack playing as I write this post. 

I would love to know what you do to push past your moments of feeling uninspired, feel free to share it in the comments below.



Finding The Right Colors For Your Art.

Color is such a personal thing.

Some of us are drawn to the bold contrast of black and white. Others to pale and faded pastels, or vibrant primary colors or maybe moody tones.  There is no right or wrong in your color choices. You love what you love!

If you look at my artwork, it is more than obvious that I love pink!  I can't hide it, nor do I apologize. It is a glorious color -  I never met a pink that I didn't fall head over heels madly in love with.

However, I'll let you in on a little secret, there is a color that I love more than pink. I know, shocking!  It is a deep dark charcoal gray. I love how everything paired with it looks! Green golds, Yellow Ocher, Bright Pink, Vintage Pink, Vibrant Reds, Pale Blues and a shimmering gold. 

These particular colors make my heart beat faster, ideas begin to flow and art happens. So I am going with it. 


Because I'm very committed to my color palette, it makes purchasing art supplies so much easier. I don't spend a lot of money on colors that I won't use and I rarely buy a set of any supply.  Don't get me wrong, I do experiment with new colors, I think it is important to the development of my art. And, I want to see if I have the same reaction and if I do, then I will add it to the mix. 

As a tool on keeping my colors organized, I made  a color deck to catalogue my favorite colors and brands.  It is also a great way to play with the value range of a color, and to experiment mixing colors. 

To create your own color deck, tear a sheet of mixed media paper into pieces - mine are 4 x 6. Then add color in the medium of your choice. Make sure you record the name of the brand and color on the back. If I'm mixing colors, I write down the formula as well.


In addition to creating my color deck, I have a few great books that I refer to over and over to get a better understanding of this big topic.

My few favorite books on color. 

1. Color Mixing Bible by Ian Sidaway - a must for every artist! 

2. Color Lab by Deborah Forman - great projects, especially for Mixed Media artists.

3. Making Colors Sing by Jeanne Doble - main focus is on watercolors

4. Interaction of Color by Joseph Albers - A masterwork and must have for all artists. 

5. The Magic Palette  - color mixing deck - I love this.


I believe it all comes down to how color makes you feel and then you will create what you feel in your art.  So, look around your house, your wardrobe, your garden. What colors do you really love?

What colors make your heart beat faster? 

Have a beautiful and creative day!

Create Textured Pastel Flowers

Hello Everyone,

I love practicing and working out my ideas on a piece of kraft paper - I have a big roll in my studio and I probably use it everyday.  I also like to repurpose my grocery bags as well -  yes, I am completely  guilty of forgetting my shopping bags when I go to the grocery store.

I thought it would be fun to share a step by step of one way that I like to use a  brown paper bag as an alternative substrate for creating. This is a great way to practice sketching, composition, color and mixing up art supplies on free paper! If you have kids, have them be your "gesso assistant" my daughter loves this job and often ends up sitting with me and creating - which is a beautiful thing!

Supply List:

Brown Paper Bag or a roll kraft paper, white or black gesso, pastels in the color palette of your choice (I combine Sennelier soft pastels and Sennelier oil pastels to create a chunky texture) charcoal pencil and a palette knife. If you  don't use pastels you can substitute with acrylic paints, watercolor or inks.



I cut a 9 x 12 rectangle out of the bag and then taped it down to my work table. Next, I added an even coat of white gesso.



Grab a couple of your favorite charcoal pencils and loosely sketch out your flowers.


This is such a good exercise to loosen up your hand. Try standing up and hold the pencil at the top while you draw. 


Select your favorite colors! I usually select three or four in a color family - dark to light. I begin with the darkest and then add in the medium color and finish up with the lightest color. I usually blend the colors with the pastels and sometimes my finger.


Begin laying down your color, work in tandem with your value range of dark to light. Create a loose charcoal outline to your petals.


Work back and forth layering your color. I  "lightly" push and pull the pastels through the colors to add more texture. Next, I added oil pastels over the soft pastels in a few areas like the center of the flowers, the leaves and a touch on the background. The chunky texture created by this technique is wonderful!  But note, it doesn't work to add soft pastels over the oils.


Adding marks in your art work will add interest and reflect your personal style. I made small tick marks and dots in charcoal and pastel to add interest. Next, I used a palette knife next to create the veins of the leaves - I particularly like the effect of scraping the palette knife through the gray oil pastel mark created a "grass like" effect in the above right image.

In addition to the little marks, I always add a large, illegible script to most of  my artwork. I set an intention, or write a quote or maybe a random thought about the process. 


The final step is to spray with a fixative.

I hope you enjoyed this little demo and I hope to have more in the future.



Art Journaling And How It Will Inspire Your Art

For many years I kept a sketchbook and would practice drawing and  jotting down my  ideas. However, it wasn't until I began diving into the creative practice of art journaling that I saw a significant shift in my artwork. It was a place to explore color, lines, mark making, and build up layers of beautiful materials - all without fear.

 art journal inspiration   

art journal inspiration


Your art journal will become a sacred place where you can pour your ideas out onto the page. Ideas that are uncensored and pure. It allows you think, and then you will create. You will feel and create what you feel. By gathering ideas, your emotional connection to your work becomes richer, more intuitive and a more fulfilling creative experience. 

 gather what inspires you and keep it in your art journal

gather what inspires you and keep it in your art journal

If you are new to art journaling here are a few tips and techniques to get you started.

1. Decide on what time of book you would like to create in: Strathmore Mixed Media Art Journal is one of my favorites or breath new life into a vintage book that you pick up at the local thrift shop. 

2. Prepare your pages (especially in a vintage book) with gesso. I like to use Liquitex Clear Gesso, - or you can choose from white or black as well.

3. Begin to gather things that inspire you - words cut from a magazine, colors and images you love, vintage papers, theater tickets - anything and everything. 

4. Pull out your art supplies and begin.

 gather your art supplies and practice in your art journal everyday

gather your art supplies and practice in your art journal everyday

If you are interested in learning more about art journaling I have a few online classes that will guide you through the process. 

 art journaling tips and techniques in my new online class

art journaling tips and techniques in my new online class

My newest class, The Painted Camellia, can be found on Ivy Newport's creative network. We will dive headfirst into three inspiring art journal projects.  The class begins March 8th and there is currently Early Bird registration available. So, take a moment and visit Ivy's site.

In addition, there are two more classes that begin with art journaling projects, Full Bloom and Beautiful Pages. 

 your art journal is a sacred place to keep your creative ideas

your art journal is a sacred place to keep your creative ideas

Make sure you visit my instagram, @reneedesigns for daily art and inspiration., or feel free to  visit my Facebook page.

Have a beautiful and creative week


A Space to Create.


This piece is called Crepe Myrtle and hangs in our kitchen where I can see it everyday. It is inspired by beautiful memories of my grandparent's home in Metairie, Louisiana. It represents love, joy, creativity, summer, freedom, fun, a lot of food and most importantly, my family. It is the perfect piece to welcome you to my creative home.

I have been thinking about starting a blog for sometime now, however, much like opening a brand new sketchbook and making that first mark upon a stark white page, starting a blog is a bit daunting. With so many beautiful blogs floating around in "beautiful blog world" I decided that the only thing I can do is to be me. Really me!  Real art is made from a place of honesty and it is my pledge to share it all with you.

I'm a mom, wife, artist, dance teacher, car pool driver, snack maker, library volunteer, book lover and all round romantic - I probably left a few things out, but I'm sure they will emerge as time goes on.  I would like this to be a place where I share what works, what doesn't work and what inspire me to create art. I will share my techniques, my creative practices and my process with you.

Soooooo, what's next?

I have some fun plans in the works. Very soon I will be launching a beautiful (FREE) art journaling class that will give you suggestions for gathering ideas, creating beautiful journal pages and suggestions on how to create a meaningful art practice. I will share many of my tips and techniques along with how I generate ideas for larger works through art journaling. And, in January 2018, I will release my first online art class, Full Bloom, this course will dive deeper into creative practices so you can make art that is truly unique to you. 

I welcome you to join me as I practice, share ideas and follow inspiration down the rabbit hole. Whether you are just beginning or just need a new perspective this will be a very nurturing place for all creative souls.

 Above are the supplies that I used in making of the mix media piece, Crepe Mrytle:  Ink, watercolors, acrylics, charcoal, pastels and  white gesso. I can't live without gesso!

Above are the supplies that I used in making of the mix media piece, Crepe Mrytle:  Ink, watercolors, acrylics, charcoal, pastels and  white gesso. I can't live without gesso!


Thank you for stopping by,


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