November 29, 2010

Holidays & thoughts on blogging

I thought I would give you a peek inside my Holiday weekend.

We had 21 folks for Thanksgiving dinner, and 15 over later in the evening for seconds. Mark cooks a really good turkey and I think this year was the best. We order the turkey from a local farm each year in the summer, they grow and prepare it and we pick it up on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. This year's turkey was 28 pounds. Nothing but the carcass remains, which I laid out in the forest to become part of the natural circle of life.

We always do Tex-Mex stuffing, mashed potatoes (this year we did cauliflower mashed potatoes as it seems many of our friends are South Beaching it), my favorite vegetable ~ peas, a huge cheese platter and other decadent appetizers. Everyone else brings multiple dishes and together we make a feast. Thanksgiving ~ good food, company, music and conversation.

For most Thanksgivings we have friends over, but this year Mark's dad and step mom were here from Tulsa. It was the first time that we had actual family here for Thanksgiving dinner! That was nice for the kids to have family here and good for us to catch up on family news. 

As soon as Thanksgiving was over we  turned our attention to Christmas. The women's group at our church is having their Christmas tea in my house, so I needed to go ahead and get the place decorated. So, while I missed out on the whole Black Friday shopping thing (seriously, what kind of name is that?) on Saturday we went ornament shopping at World Market. The kids went to town picking the most lovely (expensive/breakable!) ornaments until I calmly directed them to the cheaper/non-breakable ones. 

It is funny watching myself do this ~ prepare for holidays just like everyone else ~ because I am so not a holiday person. I have never really like tradition or the silliness of shopping and all that. I don't like being artificially told to think about Christ's birth, I prefer to mediate on that in my own time, when it seems organic. But I have children so I do it for them. I do it for the memories we are creating in their minds. I grew up with Christmas carols and hymns and dinner and presents and all that, so I don't want to deny that for my kids (and my husband who LOVES holidays and abundant gift giving!).

Anyhow, after shopping we then came home and decorated the tree in the living room. And Laura decided to decorate herself:


I have been thinking about blogging a lot lately ~ thinking about it's purpose, my place in it all, my voice, the hugeness of marketing via blogging. I have visited so many successful blogs and love to see how committed folks are to their vision and the process of art and blogging. I know, unfortunately, that I can't compete. I am just not that fired up as I feel I need to be to be truly successful. I have made some changes around here and some folks kindly told me that my blog looks more professional now. But 1) my traffic has not increased for the effort and 2) my very closest friend told me that my blog no longer sounds like 'Shona'. So what is the point of it? For the discipline of coming up with ideas? To market my book? To please others & get kudos? To record my life? To cast a vision of the Artistic Mother? To be really me?

If I want to do posts that are interesting to others then I feel that I need to come up with something new. I don't like to do things that everyone else is doing. I am a starter and when I find that what I am doing is being done over and over I loose my motivation and want to go on to something new, this has always been an issue for me. Also to create good posts I think that they need to be interesting! And you know, a lot of my life is just not that interesting/exciting/artful.

So to come up with new/interesting ideas for blog posts it takes time and effort. And with a young toddler, who has taken to opening and emptying every kitchen cupboard, that is just plain hard to do. I am pretty good at ordering my day so I can see exactly what I am spending my time on. And I have been wondering ~ is this really how I want to spend my limited free time? What about my art and writing? I know that every minute I am blogging I am not spending time creating. And when I am not creating then, as my husband pointed out, I get in a funk. I need to have a project. I need to have something new going on, something to create.

So this December I am going to challenge myself to make a piece of art everyday. It is going to be some combo of photography, poetry and mixed media collage (my big three). I will post my findings here, everyday for the month of December and then see how I am doing. But I won't be doing a whole lot of talking here. I will be posting without words. Focusing on the art and not the blogging.

I hope to have more blogging focused discussions with fellow bloggers on Dec 8 at La Madeleine's in The Woodlands, Texas at 7pm. There is a good group coming. It is going to be fun to be around people who like to talk about a topic that is interesting to all of us. If you live anywhere near Houston, you are invited to come. Let me know if I can expect you.

November 18, 2010

Art Finds Friday - November 19, 2010


Last night I left the comfort of my home, my kids in care of daddy and went to Houston to a book signing  - Chris Guillebeau's book 'The Art of Non-Conformity'. I have been enjoying his blog for a while, he talks about leading a life that is outside the norm, doing what makes us really happy all in the context of service to others. I think that as a homeschooler it is inevitable that I would be a part of his audience. I like to listen to what he says and then apply it to my life as an artistic mother. Chris spoke for a while last night and then opened it up for Q&A, which was good, but to be honest I would have preferred to hear more from Chris, he has some interesting thoughts and ideas.

It was fun being there. I got to meet Chris, have my book signed and I met a few other bloggers. It was fun to be around folks who talk the same blog speak and know about things like Seth Godin and NaNoWriMo, stats and traffic and all that. I briefly spoke to author and blogger Karen Walrond, who was the host of the meeting.

I enjoyed watching this video Crystal Street put together of one of his meetings in North Carolina, it made me not so nervous about attending the one in Houston.

The Unconventional Book Tour stops in Durham, NC. from crystal street on Vimeo.

Videos are a powerful medium. I am in the process of creating one to talk about my book. It is a lot harder than I thought. I have given myself a Christmas deadline.


Please visit me at Stephanie Levy's blog. She interview me about being an artistic mother and has posted it on her blog yesterday. I am sure she would love to hear from you. If I remember correctly I actually got the interview because I left a comment on her blog one time I had wandered over, so you never know what can come of saying hello!


I about fell over when I saw a man's name in my 'follower' list! Joel of Wildberries signed up and I am so glad he did. He has a downloadable journal fantasy, poetry and art called 'Wildberries Journal of Mythic Fantasy'. You may not be as into poetry as I am, but the art on p6s 6 and 17 by Christina Cairns is worth a look.

I am just over 800 followers now! Thank you, where did you all come from? It amazes me when I step back and think about it. I appreciate you visiting and letting me know you hear me. Nothing better than that for the writer soul in me. 


The man can sing. When you first listen to Jack L, you have no idea the amazing voice that is to come. I got to see him in concert in a pub in Ireland the summer before last, he was an amazing performer.

Here he is singing 'Rooftops' live with Dublin behind him:

And here is another lovely Irish singer, Lisa Hannigan. She used to be with Damien Rice, but has since become a singer in her own right.


1) Hang out with this cool, happy baby & his siblings.

2) I am going to focus on writing poetry for the remainder of this month. I will write everyday. This is my accountability. This, me announcing it. Here. Even on Thanksgiving day. Especially on Thanksgiving day!

3) Take next week off from blogging for Thanksgiving. So see you 11/29.

Please leave me a comment to tell me how I am doing with my new blog schedule, I am, again, rethinking it! My blog is like a tinker toy I just can't leave alone. I am seeking a balance between speaking in my own voice/way/content and giving my readers what they want. It is not an exact science!

November 17, 2010

Workshop Wednesday - Tin & book

A few weeks ago I asked you, my readers, if there was anything that you wanted to see by way of workshops. Donna wondered if I have done videos of work that is in my book, The Artistic Mother. That is a great idea Donna. Thanks. While I didn't get around to doing a video, here is a photo workshop based on an altered tin and handmade mini collage journal that does appear in my book.

Through out my book there are what is called in the publishing business 'beauty shots'. Marissa Bowers, the book's designer, staged art work with props to best show off and illustrate the type of artwork you, the reader, the Artistic Mother, could do. On p 18 is an altered collage tin that houses a little handmade book. Today I am going to show you the steps for making one.

But first, here is a peek inside the one that appears in the beauty shot in my book:


Set up your photos on your computer. I use PhotoShop Elements 8.0. I opened 4 different photos and then choose a new blank document. I moved the 4 photos over into the new document.

Line the photos up, then crop the image in a long strip and save the file as a jpeg.


Open your word processing program. I use Microsoft Word for Mac. Insert your photo onto a new blank document. Re-size your image. Copy and paste it and re-size the 2nd image (smaller), so you have 2 sizes of the image (one will be for the cover of your little book, the other will be art to collage the tin with).


Trim your images. And set the smaller image aside. You will use the larger strip image as the cover of your book.


Fold your strip image loosely in half, this will be your book cover. Find scraps of paper that will fit as pages in the book.

Layer the papers together. The top piece of paper should face the rest of the paper.


Poke a line of holes in the papers. Use an awl to make the holes by holding the point of the awl in place and tapping the back of the awl with a hammer to ensure that the holes go the whole way through the stack of papers. Hold the papers very tightly together before sewing. TIP: Thread your needle before poking the holes, so you are ready to go once the holes are made. Now, sew the papers together. I sewed forward and then back again to make sure the papers were very secure.


Put the book pages (signature) into the cover, fold the front and back signature pages and align them with the cover. Glue the outside of the signature into the book cover. Use your fingers to smooth the signature in place.

To cover up where the fold is, add a little loop of coordinating twine and tie it. Set the book aside.


Next you will want to alter your tin. I used a gift card tin that I got at Michaels, but an Altoid tin will work too. First thing to do is sand the tin. Any grit sandpaper will do, but I used a medium fine grit. Sand everywhere that you want to be painted. You don't have to erase the whole design, but to rough it up enough to receive paint.


Paint your tin with a layer of gesso. Dry it with a craft gun or simply wait 10 minutes for the paint to dry and then paint with acrylic paint. I used Moss Eco-Friendly paint.


 Stamp the tin with Staz On ink. I always use Staz On ink because I end up painting over the stamp. This stamp is called 'Plume' from Linda Schnieder's collection by Stampington & Co.


Over paint the stamps with another color (here I used a little bit of turquoise) and then gesso to soften the color. Rub the paint with a rag to give it that blendy, airy feeling.


Pick out some scraps to collage on the top of the tin, including the smaller printed out version of the book cover photo. Glue them in place.

Put your little book inside your tin and that is it!

I hope you have a go at making one of these. They are quick and simple. Even my kids altered their own tins (of course!!):

If you are a collage artist, why not consider adding your name the collage making directory? As of today there are 95 collage blogs listed! It is a great place to jump from when you need some collage inspiration. Scroll all the way down and leave a comment and you will be added to the list. 

November 15, 2010

Making the most of it

We all have to do things as Moms that are seemingly 100% for our kids. Like attend soccer practice, kids birthday parties, make kid lunches, go to kid friendly restaurants, correct homework and on and on. On the surface there is nothing in it for Mom. We are sacrificing our time for them. But is that not just a state of mind? Isn't the possibility of art in everything, in every place, in every situation?

As an Artistic Mother I have to believe that to be true.

So when I am doing seemingly kid only things I take my camera, my notebook, my eyes and look and often find the art in the everyday, the mundane, the awful blaring kid places - like the dreaded Chuck E Cheese.

We mamas have to make the most of what we have.

If you have done a blog post about finding art in your life as a mom will you leave me a link in the comments?


Talking about making the most of it.... Maximus is, as I told you last week, learning to walk. I just had to share this little video of him being so proud, so proud of his own little self.

Maximus James learing to walk from Shona Cole on Vimeo.

November 12, 2010

Art Finds Friday - November 12, 2010


I met Mindy from the Wishstudio last week in San Antonio and it was so fun to put a face and live personality to all of our online interaction. I thought 'you know I could meet more fellow bloggers and like minds', so I am going to get the ball rolling!

I would like to invite bloggers who live in the Houston and North Houston area to come to a Blogger Meet Up. 

Why not join me?

Visit this blog post for the details and to leave a comment specifically about this meet up. 


We had a music concert at our house the other week. Marcus Mucha, Shannon's husband sang a number of his latest original songs. He performed five that day, this one, 'Nails' was my favorite. I filmed it with my new camera, without a tripod, so forgive me for the terrible camera work. Just enjoy the music.

Nails from Shona Cole on Vimeo.

This week I have enjoyed visiting the blog of Sloane, Sunny's Smile. Her blog has few words, but many snapshots of her life as a creative mama. I love the straightforward simplicity of her vision. Her blog nails her purpose "This is the blog of a creative mama who seeks to capture beauty and inspiration in everyday moments." Sloane also shares her mixed media designs on her new art blog Sunny's Smile Design. I love her blog banner!

4) GIVEAWAY - winner
The results are in: For visitors to this blog space mixed media is overwhelmingly the favorite art form:
Mixed Media 29
Photography 17
Poetry 4

Interestingly many noted that mixed media is so great because it can include both photography and poetic words. I second that. I like how Shelley of Single Stone Studio put it "For me everything is rooted in mixed media - it might contain photos or poetry but the roots are always mixed media. I love paints and papers and fabrics. I love building layers and talking to God while I create. It's always a time when I get quiet and he speaks. It's why I create."
Well, there can only be one winner of Liz Lamorex's book 'Inner Excavations' and that is....

Elizabeth C of A Creative Beginning

Congrats. Let's talk via email, I will get your physical address and get your book in the mail.


An Etsy Store! Yep, I opened 'The Artistic Mother' Etsy store.

I thought about Christmas coming and gift giving and thought that the perfect gift for The Artistic Mother would be my book and some supplies to get her going. So I put together some craft kits:

1) Kits for making the paper bag card, which is the project on p117 in my book.
2) Kits for making the balsa wood 'Butterfly Reminder', which is the project on p87.
3) Basic supply kits
You can buy the kits alone (not the basic kit, yet) or the kit plus a signed copy of my book.

So if you are looking for an inspiring crafty gift for your sister, new mother or best friend please consider visiting my brand new store!

Alternatively, buy a copy of my book (cheaper) on Amazon, go to your local craft supply store and purchase some of the 'Essential Tool Kit' listed on p67 of the book. If you want I can send you a signed sticker to place inside the cover of the book, it is the next best thing to having a truly signed copy of a book! Email me and I will mail you one, no charge to you at all. 

I am telling you, having the right supplies on hand makes creating so much easier. That is especially true for the busy mother.


I was a 'character' model for Shannon Mucha's narrative art three times these past few weeks. You may remember I blogged about it here. Well, Shannon has posted some of the photos on her Flickr. Here is her finished narrative, you can scroll up and down for other images in this brilliant series. Thanks Shannon for letting me be a part of your art, me and my kids are looking forward to the next shoot!

Blogger Meet up - Houston, Texas

I would like to invite bloggers who live in the Houston and North Houston area to come to a Blogger Meet Up. 

When: December 8, 2010

Time: 7-9pm

Where: La Madeleine in The Woodlands,
9595 Six Pines Drive, Suite 100, The Woodlands TX, 77380

Who: bloggers who would like to put a face and voice to a blog/name

What: a relaxed evening to chat and eat some yummy food with wine or coffee

RSVP: You can leave a comment on this post and/or send me an email at 

Space is limited to the first 20 bloggers who give me a firm commitment that they will be there, so let me know soon if you can make it. I will post a list of who is coming as the RSVP's roll in.

You can spread the word using this badge image. Email me if you want a jpeg copy of it.

November 08, 2010

Learning to walk

My life as I knew it is over, at least for a little while. Max turned one last week and is moving about more and more and even beginning to walk. I can no longer put him down and know I can do a quick blog post or eat my lunch. No, he is all boy, opening the back door, longing to go outside, batting away books, preferring to crawl quickly to cupboards or drawers to empty the contents. I am this close to giving up putting everything back in place at least until he is older!

This may sound like a complaint, but really what a privilege to help launch this child into the world, to give him stronger legs, to be there as the world comes rushing towards him! Lord, help me be a good Momma.

and so where does it come from,
this drive to rise up?

he came to my arms lying down
he has been carried
he has been worn

I did not tell him to walk
I only cheer
when he pulls to a stand
I lean in
lending my hand
a finger hold
the last thread of security

this is his world to discover
these are his legs to strengthen
his pine cones to navigate
to pick up and be pricked by.

how he faces it, wobbling today,
running tomorrow, is his business

I can blow breath in the direction
I think is right
but he will learn the hard way
like every other boy before him

Shona Cole

November 05, 2010

Art Finds Friday - November 5, 2010 & giveaway


I am reading B.H. Fairchild's latest book and so far it is excellent. He is a master at long sentences that somehow don't lose the reader's attention and narratives of strange characters' momentary events, steeped in unusual histories. I love how he sees the deeper character in those people he comes in brief contact with or imagines. His poetic voice is very American, independent and confident. Good stuff, interesting. (Not for kids).

There is a very powerful poem 'Madonna and Child, Perryton, Texas 1967 about a screaming baby who calms down only when the momma nurses her baby, his description is so spot on. It is such a poignant moment that 'forty years later this scene still hangs in my mind'.


A junk mail journal with painted junk mail for the paper and cover, my own photography, and rubber stamps - these Fanciful Outline Lowercase Alphabet. I received these stamps in my capacity as an Artist On Call for Stampington. Every few months I get some new stamps to work with, some of this work then appears in Stampers' Sampler magazine.


I spotted my book in my local Hobby Lobby. This photo is of my dad looking at his daughter's book and his grandkids' photos!


This week I would love you to go check out the blog of Kelly Thiel. She is a very talented sculpture artist, art journaler and mother. She gives her readers a very interesting look at the process involved in creating her bronze sculptures. She also blogs about being a mom and posts some recipes. Worth a look.


I came across this book 'Inner Excavation' on Liz Lamoreux's blog about 6 months ago. The subtitle is 'Explore your self through Photography, Poetry, and Mixed Media'!!!!!!! As those are the same arts that I am involved in I immediately went to Amazon and hit 'pre-order'. About 2 months ago I was again on Liz's blog and I read more about her book and, completely forgetting that I had already done so, I pre-ordered it again! Imagine my surprise one day, when the book was released, that 2 copies of the book arrived to me!  I guess I really was meant to have this book.

Well, as I have 2 copies I am going to give one of them away. To you, or one of you!

So leave me a comment and tell me which is your favorite of these 3 arts: Photography, poetry and mixed media. I will announce the winner next Friday (11-12-10).


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