Organizing Creative Ideas

The thing about creative ideas is you never know when you're going to have them. Sometimes it seems like you can easily think of one idea after another. But then sometimes you feel as if your creative well has completely dried up.

Does that ever happen to you?

I've lived through both extremes and discovered that having ideas on hand is so helpful for when you have no ideas or so many you're overwhelmed.

Here are some things I do to organize ideas so they are always on hand. 

1) I use Evernote or some kind of note taking app on my phone. I like Evernote because it allows me to tag and sort things easily. And I can go back and search if I can't remember where I put something. But the point is, when I have an idea I pull out my phone and write as much detail as I can about it. Size, shape, colors, function, etc. I've learned that including a bunch of details here means I'm less likely to look at it later with no idea what I meant. I'm also more likely to be able to expand on the idea into more ideas.

2) Sometimes we have ideas that are best drawn or doodled. For those times, I keep a small notebook in my purse. And honestly I grab this sometimes when I want to write the idea too. It gives me plenty of space to draw and write what's in my mind. Many times I will go back to these and input them in Evernote so everything is together.

3) Pinterest is another tool I use. I know it's easy to get sucked into the never-ending scroll of Pinterest. But if you stay focused and don't look, you can avoid that. (Easier said than done right?) Sometimes when I have an idea, maybe for a specific project and I want a color scheme to go with it, I'll search for it on Pinterest. Or if I see a technique that I'm not exactly sure how to do, I'll search it there. Anytime I feel I need more visual direction, Pinterest is my go-to. 

4) Sometimes the idea doesn't come from my own head but from something I've seen. Maybe a window display, a photo in a magazine, or an outfit. When this happens, I try to take a photo or screenshot. Usually I do this for textures, color combos, or the aesthetic of a piece. Later, I'll go through my photos and upload them to Evernote with notes about what I liked or want to remember about that idea.

5) One last thing I tend to do is combine these tools. I'll see something that sparks an idea. Then I'll take a photo and write and draw where I want to take that idea. Then I'll use Pinterest to fill any missing pieces of the idea. Then I can put it all into Evernote for easy access when I'm ready to create.

Most of my ideas don't come when I'm at my table ready to work. But keeping track of my ideas means I have somewhere to look for inspiration when I am ready to work. Using Evernote for this gives me one place to look for inspiration. When I'm thinking of projects, I go to the art projects notebook there. Then I can take a seed of an idea and make it work for what I'm doing. Or if I have no ideas then at least have somewhere to start.

What are your favorite ways to organize creative ideas? 

DIY Clipboard Hanger

Today, I have a project for you that is so versatile! You can use materials you probably already have on hand or can get easily. This idea is based on something I saw at Michael's that I knew I could recreate to better suit my needs. 
Are you ready to get started? 


I started with a spare 1x4 board. I cut it down to 28 inches long and sanded it smooth. If you don't have a board, you can get one cut at most home improvement stores. You can also find finished wood pieces at crafts stores that would work with this. I also used some clips that resemble clipboards. You can use regular binder clips for this as well.


Then I got started on the fun part- painting! I wanted the woodgrain to show through, so I painted a light coat of watered down acrylic paint. Then I used a cloth to rub it in. I spritzed the board with a bit of water first.

Next, I had to do a bit of math... So, my board measured 28 inches long and I wanted three clips evenly spaced. Therefore, I had the two on the ends in two inches and one in the middle that was about 12 inches from the two on the outside. Using three clips made it easy. Put the two the same distance in. Then the third one goes in the middle. I used a tape measure and pencil to mark where the clips would go.
Up until this point, I had planned to hang the board vertical.  

Now, it's time to pull out the power tools! You can absolutely use a hammer and nails if that is what you have. But who doesn't love a chance to use a drill? I drilled a hole where each of my marks were. I also made sure not to go all the way through the board. This really didn't seem to matter. However, at that point, for some reason, it mattered to me. Once your holes are drilled, use a screwdriver and small screws to attach the clips.

Lastly, I put two small nails on each side and tied a ribbon around them. This is how your cool new memo holder will hang on the wall. You could also attach a picture hanger to the back if you like it without the string. I also added a little gold paint to the heads of my screws so they matched the clips.


Now hang it on your wall and admire your handy work!

How do I know when my painting is finished?

First and foremost, it’s a feeling. For me, it’s not really a sigh of relief, more of a “I’m tired of this and ready to let it go”. I don’t mean that to sound harsh. I love painting! I love the process and most of the time I love the end result. Let me tell you about a painting that I tried to keep finishing. It was several weeks ago. I was working on a canvas a good bit bigger than I’m used to. I added many, many layers to this canvas because it kept calling for more. I finally got to a point where I was ready to be finished. But as I looked at it I really hated it. It felt ugly to me on every level. So I thought, “This can’t be finished if I don’t like it.” I’m supposed to love everything I paint, right? With the hopes of “fixing” it, I hung it on my wall. I looked at it from a distance and in different lighting. But over the course of a few days, it became uglier to me. So what did I do? I painted over the whole thing with black paint and stuck it back with my blank canvases. The reality was, that painting was finished. I was ready to let it go and take the lessons I had learned from it on to another piece. Do you want to know the really cool thing about that painting? The very first layer I had painted the words, “let go” all over it. If art is about the process and if we allow it to seep into our soul, we can really learn something from it. 

Altered Book Journal with video

Aside from creating art, I would say reading is my favorite hobby. I've always loved books! So, a few years ago when I wanted to use old book pages in some art, I had some guilt. I felt bad about tearing up a book that could no longer be read by someone else. Even for a while, I told myself I had to read the book before I could tear it up. That got old fast because the books I picked out for art projects were not based on how good the book actually was. It took some time, but I eventually decided it was ok to sacrifice the book for art. There are plenty more copies available, right? And if someone really wants to read it, I'm sure they can find a digital version. Now, I have quite a few books in my art stash and no guilt to go along with it!

Today's video should be guilt free too! I'm using an old book to make an art journal. This one is a better version from the one I made for this season of Get Messy. I explain some of the differences in the video. So without further ado, here's the video!

I hope you enjoyed this project and video! I know parts of the video go a bit fast, so if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask! I would to see your journal if you make one.
Thanks for stopping by today!

Black and White- Art Journal Page

In case you haven't noticed, I really love color! And I have a hard time with white space. However, for this page idea, I really wanted the words to come across without being in competition with a colorful background. So I decided to just use a black paint pen on this page. That's it. One supply. A black paint pen. And I'm really happy with how it turned out. It feels dynamic but not cluttered. The proportions on the person are off, but that's the first time I've drawn that, so it's ok. This page gives me the courage to try more "clean and simple" styles while still embracing my style.

If you're thinking you would like to start art journaling, I suggest you give the Get Messy community a try. Not only do you get weekly journal prompts, but it comes with an amazing supportive community of artists!

Just one step at a time...

Just take it one day and one step at a time.
I'm pretty sure this is what God is telling me lately. I so easily get caught up in the distant future and how it's all supposed to work out. Then I forget the small steps along the way. I forget to focus on what I can do today and in this moment that can lead me to those bigger dreams. I forget to be present. I forget that I can't do it all right this second no matter how hard I push myself. 


Art Journaling to Remember

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, art journaling helps me work out things or emotions. But lately, I’ve noticed I’ve been adding an extra layer to this- including things I don’t want to forget. Specifically with these two pages, it’s scripture I want to make sure I remember. These two verses tugged at my heart when I read them. I wanted to process that feeling but also I wanted to document them so I could easily find them again.

Art Journaling hurts sometimes

Last week, I discussed how I love the freedom of art journaling. And I still do. But you know, art journaling can hurt sometimes. Or at least it can help us face things on paper that maybe we've been avoiding in our everyday lives. When given the push to look at our true selves through an avenue as safe as paper and paint, it's amazing what comes up. While working on this spread, I had to be honest with myself. Honestly with ourselves can be hardest to muster. But I pushed through and I'm glad I did.

My Lettering Technique

With my upcoming trip to Rwanda, I've received some super sweet support from family and friends. I wanted to thank them with special "thank you" notes. Using my faux lettering technique, I came up with these. I'll walk you through how I made them!

First, I started with an printed outline of Africa. 

Then with a pencil, I scripted out my words. This is where I played around to get the shape of the letters right.

Next, I used a fine tip black pen to outline it all. Keep in mind, at this point, it doesn't have to be perfect. This is all about getting the base outlined.

Next, I went back with my pencil and added a thicker line on the downstrokes of each of the letters. The downstrokes are simply where you naturally would pull down on the pen if you were using a calligraphy pen. If you're unsure, pretend to be writing the word and see where you are pulling down. 

Lastly, I filled in the thicker lines and cleaned up any lines that weren't smooth. Don't forget to erase your pencil lines.

I took everything a step further using my digital die cutter to make them into card fronts from printed papers. I used Matte Medium to adhere them to kraft cardstock.

I love how they turned out!!


Mixed Media Supply Budgets

I’ve been thinking lately about my go-to supplies. And the supplies I’ve had for years and can’t seem to part with. I’ve been thinking about how I do mixed media and art journaling and painting and just art in general. I guess you could say all that (over)thinking is really me figuring out my style. I’ve been creating in some form or another for well over ten years. That’s kind of a long time. It’s actually about a third of my life so far. And really I would say I’ve been creating since childhood. But anyway. Last week, I shared about finding free supplies for your mixed media projects. Today, I thought through different budgets and created supply lists for each. This is totally my opinion and based solely on how I create. I suggest you use it as a way to determine what you want to spend your money on. 

I’m going to assume you have a basic kit of a ruler, scissors, paper, and pen/pencil. 

If I only have $30 to spend where should I start?
$5-Paint. Start with a red, yellow, and blue, any shade that speaks to you. Get black and white (maybe in a larger size). Then fill in with other colors that you love. When you start on projects, experiment with color mixing and keep notes of the colors you like. I’ve worked up a collection of colors, but I still mix almost every color I use. This adds depth to a project.
$3-Paintbrushes. Get a large flat, a small round, and a fine tip one. In some stores you can get an assortment pack for a few dollars. This will help you decide which size brushes you use most often and you can begin to replace those with better quality when you need one.
$10-Acrylic Medium (not Mod Podge. This is the one place I suggest getting an art supply instead of craft supply. In the end, I’m always happier with my results with Acrylic Medium over Mod Podge.) 
$5-10-Stamps. I suggest bold lined floral sets that can be painted and cut out. 
$2-5- Permanent Dye Ink pad. Black is probably the most versatile. 
$1- Brads, Buttons, Trims, stickers. Fill the rest of your budget with these items.

If I only have $75 to spend where should I start?
Start with the basic supplies above. 
$15-Stencils. Get a few basic patterns that you love.
$5-10-Stamps. Pick up an extra stamp set or two. You could consider background stamps here.
$20-Gel Printing Plate. It’s so much fun and will make the best printed papers for your projects.
$5-White and Black Paint or Gel Pens for doodles and journaling.

If I only have $100 to spend where should I start?
All supplies listed above
$10-assortment of glitter because who doesn’t need a bit sparkle
$10-texture/molding paste to add more texture to your projects. These work great with stencils.
$5- Stencils. Stamps. 

Where you’ll want to go from here?
Mixed Media/Watercolor paper
Heat Gun
Embossing Powders and Ink
Colored Pencils/Pens/Markers
Paper trimmer

What you didn’t see:
-Patterned Paper. You have the supplies to make your own
-Colored Cardstock. Paint a white piece of paper the color you want it. 

What are your go to supplies? 

The Freedom of Art Journaling

I recently joined the Get Messy Art Journal group. It's a monthly membership site that provides you with weekly art journal prompts. Every two months a new season begins. I somehow had the lucky timing to join just before a new season began! This season is called "introspection". I'm not going to share the specific prompts, but I wanted to share my first pages and some thoughts. 

I started first my altering a hard bound journal with watercolor and cardstock pages. (I'll be sharing a more detailed look at how I made my journal soon.) Then I decided I wanted a title page of sorts. This is what it looks like. It's pretty simple. 

After the prompts were realized, I created the spread you see on the bottom. The photo was collaged after I painted the basic rays of color. After adding my journaling, I added those dots. I know there are a lot of them, but I painted them while talking to my sister on the phone, so it went by quickly. When I finished that, I had a bit of paint left over so I added some dots to the cover of another journal. 

Here is a closer view of that. 
So, here's the thing I love about art journaling. Ever since painting those dots, I've had ideas for a larger painting developing in my mind. I'm sure something I saw at some point influenced those dots. However, without the freedom of my art journal, I may not have come to the idea of the painting. Or it may have taken a while longer. While I was working on that spread, I wasn't thinking about what it may become or how it would look in the end. I was just taking one step at a time and not over thinking it. It helped something unlock in my mind. 
Have you tired art journaling yet? 

Free Mixed Media Supplies

As I'm sure you know, arts and crafts can get pricey sometimes. Those supplies add up fast. But today, I wanted to share with you a list of free (or almost free) supplies that you may already have!

-Magazines. I love using home goods catalogs. They usually have swatches of colors and patterns that can be cut up and added to your project.
-Books. I’ll admit it took me some time before I felt comfortable ripping up a book. I told myself I had to read it first. Then I got over myself. 😃 Book text is so great for backgrounds, stamped or drawn images, die cuts, anything really. Just have fun with it.
-Telephone book. I don’t think they deliver these to doors anymore, but you can find them at the phone company usually. 
-Digital Images/fonts to print
-Cereal/Cracker Boxes. I love these for journal covers or in place of canvas.
-Gift boxes. I like to paint the front as if it’s a canvas then you can still use it as a box.
-Buttons from clothing. You save those little bags of extra buttons that come with your clothing, right? You can use those bags too.
-Fabric from old clothing. Chances are you have a box of clothes you don’t want anymore. This is a great place to find fabric that can be added to your mixed media projects.
-Shopping Bags. Not the plastic ones (Although you can do some cool stuff with those.) But the ones that you get at boutiques and fancier stores. 
-Junk mail. The envelopes are cool to create pockets on your projects. The letters are fun the print over. 

I keep supplies like these in a box under my work table. It's easy to grab a small piece when I'm working on a project or wanting to use up leftover paint. 

What free supplies have you used in your art?

Painted Ceramic Tile

As I mentioned a bit ago, I recently took a trip to Pittsburgh to visit my sister. This is still a new to me city and I enjoyed exploring it! My sister made sure the trip would be inspiring to me! She's the best!
One of the coolest places we went was called Construction Junction. It's basically Goodwill for construction materials. They had everything from used furniture, to used toilets (lol), to pieces of salvage wood and materials. I was so interested in looking through everything I didn't take any pictures! However, I purchased a set of 10 white square tiles for $1.50. I knew somehow they would make a fun painting surface! 

For this first tile, I stenciled some flowers with texture paste. After a few hours of drying time, I add some acrylic paint. As it happens, acrylic paint doesn't like to stick to this non-porous surface. I kind of figured that would be the case, but decided to anyhow. While I was wiping the paint off, I saw that it actually tinted the texture paste more than usual. My original thought was I could get the pink paint in the background and wipe it off the paste leaving white flowers. I was left with opposite which looked really cool. So now I had to decide what to do with the background. Realizing the mediums were drying on the tile better than regular paint, I mixed a little matte medium with teal paint. I used a palette knife to smooth on the mixture and add a few details. After drying overnight, I called it finished!

I really love how the colors turned out with this one! I'm going to add a way to hang it on the wall. 

Collage Circle Journals

Circles make their way into my projects a lot! I haven’t figured out why that is yet, but I’m embracing it. And I will see where it takes me. This time it took me to a journal cover. Two to be exact. I posted a photo on Instagram last week before I made these into journals. I still can’t decide which one I like better. 


They are both made with painted and stenciled papers, stamping, and a bit of doodling. I love how bright and colorful they turned out! 

Paintbrush Tip

I'll admit that sometimes I'm a bit hard on my paintbrushes. I tend to leave them in my water glass for a days on end. This is a big no-no, but I do it anyway. Call me a rebel if you must. Well after doing this a few times, the tips of the small brushes can get a bit bend looking.

Here is how I fix that. I take a sharp pair of scissors and cut straight across. I now how something like a stipple brush. It doesn't serve it's original purpose but it works.

*Side note: I use synthetic bristle brushes. Mostly because I don't like the idea of using animal hair brushes, but they are usually cheaper as well. So, no animals were harmed in the making of this art. ;)*

Happy painting!

Current 5 Must-Have Supplies for Mixed Media

As I've been creating more mixed media projects, I've noticed I'm reaching for the same tools and supplies over and over. So I thought I would share those with you today. 

1) Blick Matte Acrylic Paint
Why I love it: It is thicker than cheap craft paint, but not as expensive as heavy body paint. It also comes in so many colors, but mixes well to make even more colors. I really like that it dries matte but I can mix it with a gloss medium to make it shiny. This gives me more dimension when I do a combination of both in a painting.

2) Heavy Gloss Medium
There are many brands that make a heavy gloss medium. This one just happens to be from Michaels. As I mentioned above, it works great with matte paints. But it also works great on it's own to give some texture and shine.

3) Small canvases
I most like painting on large canvases, but I've enjoyed stretching my creative muscles by painting on a few small canvases at once. 

4) Plastic Palette Knife
This is a fun tool for scrapping paint and mediums across the surface for a cool texture. I also use it scrap leftover paint off my palette or when applying texture pastes through a stencil. It's a versatile tool. You can also use an old hotel key card in a pinch!

5) My Junk Journal
I have a few of these that I work in spontaneously. When I'm painting, I like to keep one close by for any left over paint. I'm constantly wiping off my paintbrush in it or smooshing it on my palette to pick up some paint I'm not planning to use anymore. It gives me the start of layers for later when I want to art journal. 

What are your must have tools and supplies when creating?